July 8, 2017 — The Growlers’ playoff hopes hung in the balance as they hosted the Los Angeles Aviators at Mission Bay High School on a perfect Saturday night. Many ultimate fans and players were in town due to the San Diego Slammer club tournament and they were excited to watch the rivals duke it out on the field.
The game started by each team controlling the offensive pace and scoring 3 times, but LA took advantage of a couple San Diego miscues and broke twice to take the lead 5-3. The Growlers answered, but the Aviators also held on O, then broke again to pull ahead 7-4. With 20 seconds left in the first quarter, San Diego was close to scoring on their last possession but it was intercepted in the end zone.
The Aviators and Growlers traded 3 offensive scores to begin the 2nd quarter before San Diego earned their first break of the day after a Max Hume block and a Travis Dunn assist to Nick Minyen. Up 10-8, LA responded by holding on O, then breaking on D after a marathon point that definitely swung the momentum to the Aviators side. The Growlers dug themselves an even deeper hole with two more turnovers and the Aviators capitalized to take a 14-8 lead into halftime.
After a turnover, the Growlers got the disc back and Zeke Ivers threw another long huck to Jesse Cohen to kick off the third quarter. More trading, then LA took advantage of a San Diego drop and broke to extend their lead to 17-10. The Aviators could not stop the deep bombs to Cohen, but the Growlers couldn’t stop LA from scoring either as the quarter ended 20-13.
The teams traded 2 goals each in the fourth, highlighted by an amazing full extension layout catch from Nate Bridges that led to a Sean Ham score, 22-15. That play pumped up the Growlers, and they broke on the next point with another layout grab, this time by Mark Slader in the end zone, 22-16. San Diego needed to rattle off several more breaks in a row to have a chance, but the next point lasted 4 minutes and sealed their fate as LA eventually scored after several turnovers and a timeout on each side. After another Aviators break, the teams traded offensive scores until time ran out, 26-19. Game highlights can be viewed here.
Jesse Cohen led the Growlers with a +7 performance (2 assists, 6 goals, 1 defensive block, 2 turnovers). Sean Ham (1 assists, 4 goals, 1 defensive block, 1 turnovers) and Nate Bridges (1 assist, 4 goals) chipped in with a pair of rock solid +5 games.
San Diego will get one more shot at the Aviators on Saturday, July 15th at Occidental College in LA. The Growlers final home game will be under the Friday night lights of Mission Bay HS on July 21st versus the San Jose Spiders.