July 9, 2016 — This was the last weekend of the AUDL regular season, and the Growlers made the drive north to Occidental College on Saturday night to play their closest rivals and playoff bound Los Angeles Aviators.
Both teams got off to a shaky start with multiple turnovers and after nearly three minutes, the Aviators converted by scoring a break point, 1-0. San Diego adjusted by scoring on offense, then broke LA twice in a row, capped off with a huck to Travis Dunn, 3-1. The Aviators responded strongly by scoring on O, then breaking SD three times in a row to reclaim the lead, 5-3. The first quarter of action ended after the teams traded 2 O points and both failed to score before the buzzer, 7-5.
LA opened the second quarter by scoring on offense, but then San Diego came roaring back to take the lead after a deep throw to Jesse Cohen and three consecutive break points, 9-8. The back and forth defensive nature of the game continued when the Aviators stopped the bleeding with an O hold, then broke back twice to end the quarter on top, 11-9.
Coming out of halftime, the two rivals traded two O scores each, then LA’s defense produced a block and scored to extend their lead, 14-11. The teams traded 3 more points until the Aviators held on O and broke the Growlers as time expired when Mark Elbogen secured a desperation hammer for the 19-14 lead.
San Diego needed their offense and defense to step up and make plays if a comeback was in the cards, and the fourth quarter started with trading until LA converted a break, 22-15. With a couple starters absent from the Growlers lineup, there just wasn’t enough firepower to keep up with a confident LA group. Some more quick trading followed with a couple breaks weaved in from both sides until the scoreboard showed 30-24 in the Aviators’ favor.
The Growlers were led by Travis Dunn with an outstanding +9 performance (3 assists, 5 goals, 3 defensive blocks, 2 turnovers). Nate Bridges (3 assists, 3 goals) and Jesse Cohen (2 assists, 3 goals, 1 defensive block) also stood out with very strong +6 games.
For the entire 2016 campaign, Travis Dunn finished first on the team with +55, followed by Steven Milardovich with +42 and Nate Bridges with +38. Will Griffin led the way in total assists (40) and completions (463), Milardovich led the team in defensive blocks (27), points (363) and minutes (511) played, and Dunn and Casey Wu shared the most goals with 32. San Diego finished 2-12 (with several close losses) on the season and hopes to get back on the winning side of things in 2017.