April 7th, 2017 — The Los Angeles Aviators hosted the San Diego Growlers in a SoCal rivalry game to start the 2018 AUDL season. Each team knew the other’s playing style and personnel well, and there were some familiar faces on the opposing sidelines this year. LA was at full strength, coming off a West Division finals loss in the 2017 playoffs, while San Diego came up just short last year and were missing 6 starters for this game.
San Diego started strong on defense by converting their first break chance of the game when Kyle Rubin connected with Nate Page. The teams traded scores with deep shots, until LA took advantage of a couple blocks and punched in their first breaks to pull ahead 4-2. Will Turner assisted to Mark Slader to get the Growlers back on track, and both teams continued to trade points until a Sean Ham layout goal gave SD their second break. The Aviators led 8-6 after the Growlers squandered a chance to score before the first quarter expired.
LA extended their lead with a break to start the second quarter then notched 3 more shortly thereafter, 13-7. San Diego stopped the bleeding with another Sean Ham layout grab, but couldn’t quite establish an offensive rhythm or get defensive stops. The Aviators scored right before halftime to go up 16-10.
The teams traded goals to start the third quarter, and after a Ryan Lacy block, Sam Fontaine found a streaking Max Hume for a Growlers break, 17-12. LA immediately stopped any momentum by scoring two straight, then Dom Leggio scored for SD, 19-13. The Aviators took advantage of some uncharacteristic Growler turnovers and closed the quarter with 4 goals in a row to extend their lead to 24-13.
The 4th quarter began with each team trading 2 scores, but the Aviators put the game away with several breaks in a row to take a commanding lead and eventually won 30-17. The Growlers were led by Trevor Purdy with a +4 performance (3 assists, 2 goals, 1 turnover) and Mark Slader with a +3 game (5 goals, 2 defensive blocks, 4 turnovers). Game highlights can be seen here.
San Diego will look to bounce back when they travel north to play the Seattle Cascades on April 14th and will turn around and host the Cascades on April 21st for their home opener.