It was everything but for the Whanganui men in their Premier Group B final with late season nemesis High School Hockey Club A, who won the title with the game's sole goal inside the last minute on Saturday.
Whanganui were the underdogs going into the playoff at a wet Twin Turfs in Palmerston North, having lost twice to HSHC A in the Group B division after previously breezing undefeated through the Premier Reserve grade to claim that title.
Without veterans Chad Warner and Craig Ritani, and remembering how they gave up three goals in the third quarter of their previous win over College B, Whanganui rejigged their lineup with senior player Calum Wilbur dropping back onto defence.
"We set, after last week, to play half court as much as possible," Wilbur said.
"Put the young legs up front to just go and go. It worked to a peach."
The only problem was Whanganui's youngsters rushed a few attempts on goal or tried longer passes rather than keeping it short when coming out of their half, leading to a succession of turnovers.
Still, the defence was immense, especially the young Whanganui Collegiate goal keeper TJ Sunthornyanakit, who blocked out 5-6 good shots from HSHC A.
However, with sixty seconds left and both teams wondering about extra time or a penalty shootout, HSHC A got a penalty corner opportunity and slammed their shot into the goal's back wood to finally go ahead.
Desperate, Whanganui attacked from the resumption and got a penalty corner opportunity of their own off the final play, but could not connect with an equaliser.
"There wasn't a huge amount more we could have done, other than take those chances," said Wilbur.
Despite the heartache, Whanganui proved a point this campaign after feeling they were unjustly ousted from the Premier grade at the start of the year.
The Premier Reserve title was followed by four more wins in Premier B over College B and Palmerston North Boys High, the latter granted the last spot in Premier ahead of Whanganui.
By making the final with HSHC A, the only team to beat them in 2019, Whanganui have qualified to re-enter Premier for the start of 2020.