May 26, 2018 — Despite a 25-20 loss to the Aviators the previous weekend at home, the Growlers were confident in their ability to travel north to LA and steal a road win. Like most matchups between these SoCal rivals, the game was decided by several close plays, momentum swings, and execution in key moments.
The rivals began the game by trading two holds each, then LA took advantage of a couple Growlers’ turns to go up 2 breaks, 4-2. Wes Groth’s assist to Michael Tran stopped the bleeding for San Diego on offense, then Mark Slader found Marcel Osborne for a break, 4-4. The teams traded until the Growlers were not able to score on a buzzer beater to end the first quarter, down 6-5.
In the second quarter, the Aviators and Growlers traded offensive holds, then Nate Bridges dished to Steven Milardovich for the goal and Travis Dunn’s high backhand to Will Turner gave San Diego two breaks in a row and an 8-7 lead. LA called timeout, but after an interception, Kyle Rubin caught a goal for the Growlers’ third break in a row. The teams traded, and after an Aviators drop, SD called timeout and eventually scored on a Zeke Ivers blade backhand to Sean Ham, 11-8. LA bounced back to score two in a row, SD countered, then LA scored right before halftime, down 12-11.
The Aviators started the third quarter with a break, the Growlers responded, then SD doubled down with a Milardovich huck to a leaping Ham for the break, 14-12. The teams traded, then a Growlers’ block led to a Dom Leggio flick bomb to Ryan Lacy for a break, followed by another break, 17-13. Two trades later, and San Diego found themselves ahead 19-15 with 2:51 left in the quarter. The momentum changed when the Aviators next offensive deep shot was blocked by Will Turner but was corralled by a diving Sean McDougall for the goal. The Growlers next three offensive possessions (throwaway into a poach, drop, throwaway into a poach) all led to LA breaks and incredibly the game was tied at 19s as the third quarter buzzer sounded.
Los Angeles continued their push by starting the last quarter with a hold and a break to take the lead 21-19. Max Hume found Joey Huppert to put an end to LA’s 6-point run, but the teams traded until 23-21. The Aviators broke again, the Growlers held on O, then Dunn found Josh Kohl to get San Diego back within one score, 24-23, with 4:26 remaining. The Growlers had a chance to tie the game after a defensive block, but the Aviators came up with a diving block of their own and eventually held on offense, 25-23, with 2:43 remaining. The Growlers were unable to score after a couple more turnovers and a golden opportunity to win on the road was squandered as time ran out.
The Growlers were led by Michael Tran (2 assists, 4 goals, 1 defensive block, 2 turnovers), Steven Milardovich (3 assists, 1 goal, 1 defensive block) and Sean Ham (1 assist, 5 goals, 1 turnover) with +5 performances.
The San Diego Growlers next home game is Saturday, June 2 versus the defending AUDL Champion San Francisco FlameThrowers at Mission Bay High School at 6:30 pm.