July 14, 2018 — San Jose defeated Seattle on Friday evening, which meant the Growlers knew they had to win against the first place Los Angeles Aviators to clinch a playoff berth. The stage at Balboa Stadium was set for the last home game of the season, a SoCal rivalry with high stakes and a large crowd turnout.
The Aviators started the game with a break, the Growlers held, and after an LA drop, Will Griffin assisted to Nate Bridges for the 2-1 lead. San Diego broke again, the teams traded, then Mark Slader knifed a forehand to Nate Bridges for a third break, 5-2. Each team traded to end the first quarter, with San Diego ahead 8-6.
The second quarter began with 3 offensive holds from each team, then Steven Milardovich blocked a dump pass and Kyle Smith threw a break score to Trevor Purdy, 12-9. San Diego had the momentum and rattled off three more breaks. LA stopped the bleeding with a couple of great catches, and San Diego held to take a 16-10 lead into halftime.
A Michael Tran hammer to Sean Ham kicked things off in the third quarter, then a Sam Fontaine block led to a Max Hume huck to Mark Slader for the break, 18-10. The teams traded, the Growlers broke, then broke again as Michael Tran floated the disc to a diving Travis Dunn for a highlight reel goal, 21-11. After some trading, LA got a couple of breaks back but still found themselves behind 24-16 as the quarter ended.
San Diego rattled off five straight breaks to start the final quarter, scored by Nate Bridges, Marcel Osborne, Scott Radlauer, Kyle Smith, and Nate Bridges (off a crazy deflection). The SoCal rivals traded out to end the game, with the Growlers emerging victorious 34-21 and earning a playoff bid! Click here for a game recap by TVX Sports Video and here for our highlights.
The Growlers were led by Nate Bridges at +8 (1 assist, 7 goals), with Michael Tran (5 assists, 2 goals) and Mark Slader (2 assists, 2 goals, 3 defensive blocks) each contributing great +7 performances.
San Diego finished the regular season at 7-7, earning the #2 seed in the West Division playoff (their first ever appearance) and the right to play the first place Los Angeles Aviators this Saturday at Occidental College. The winner of this playoff game will represent the West at Championship weekend in Madison, WI on August 11-12!