By Sam Laskaris

They gave it their best shot.

But the Merchants Lacrosse Club, which had just 13 runners (five under the league limit of 18) available for duty, came up a bit short on Saturday night.

The Merchants were downed 7-5 by the visiting Oakville Rock in an Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL) match held at the Delpark Homes Centre in Oshawa.

Oakville’s mark improved to 8-5-0, good for third place in the six-team OSL.

With the loss, the Merchants, who have three regular season contests remaining, saw their record fall to 4-8-1.

Unfortunately for the Merchants, Saturday’s loss also meant they were unable to jump back into a playoff position. The top four regular season finishers advance to post-season action.

The Merchants remain in fifth place in the OSL standings, one point behind the Ennismore James Gang.

Ennismore, which is sporting a 5-10-0 mark, also lost on Saturday. The expansion Clearview Crushers beat the host James Gang 12-8.

Merchants’ assistant coach Ryan Preston handled the club’s head coaching duties on Saturday as Clancy Almas is away this weekend.

Preston said he was pleased with the efforts of his short bench against the Rock.

“The guys battled hard,” he said.

Preston also praised the performance of Lukas Coote, the Merchants’ netminder.

“Coote kept us in the game,” he said.

The Merchants found themselves down 5-3 after the first period. Oakville managed to score just two goals in the second. And the Rock was kept off the scoreboard the entire third period.

But after netting three goals themselves in the first 20 minutes, the Merchants could only muster one goal in the middle frame and then one more in the third.

“We had our chances,” said Cody Menzies, who scored twice for the Merchants. “We just couldn’t bury them.”

John Harrington also scored twice for the Merchants while Carson Rees had the other goal for the hosts.

The Merchants will try once again to get into the win column on Sunday. They will have their second home contest of the weekend, this time against the league-leading Six Nations Rivermen, who have compiled an impressive 12-2-0 record.

The opening faceoff is set for 6 p.m.