June 2, 2018 — After a tough loss the previous week in LA, the Growlers faced yet another test, this time at home versus the defending AUDL Champion San Francisco FlameThrowers. As is usually the case in the ultra-competitive West division, the fans were treated to a drama-filled night at Mission Bay HS.
San Diego received the opening pull and patiently scored when Michael Tran dished to Steven Milardovich. The teams traded goals until 4-4, when San Francisco took advantage of a couple Growlers turnovers for the first 2 breaks of the game to go up 6-4. SD got back on track and the teams traded again as the quarter ended on an incomplete ‘Hail Mary’ from SF, ahead 7-6.
In the second quarter, San Diego had a chance to break but floated a pass too high, then gave up a break on their next possession, trailing 9-6. The Growlers stopped the bleeding, the teams traded, then after a SF turnover and SD timeout, Travis Dunn assisted to a sliding Scott Radlauer for a break, 10-9. SF scored and the teams traded out before halftime, 12-10 FlameThrowers. The Growlers started the third quarter with a timely score, then the teams traded until Dom Leggio fed Zeke Ivers for the break to tie the game at 14 all. SF fired back, the Growlers captains connected on a long huck (Dunn to Milardovich), but the FlameThrowers were fired up with another goal and a break off a tipped disc to pull ahead 17-15. The quarter came to a close with nice defense after a turn from Josh Kohl (point block and the assist), and Will Turner blocked SF’s final bid to score in the endzone, 17-16.
SF and SD scored on offense to kick off the fourth quarter, then a Milardovich interception led to a Kyle Rubin assist to Nate Bridges for the 18-18 tie. On defense, Will Turner dialed in the launch codes for the layout block on Antoine Davis, which eventually led to a Will Griffin goal for the break and the lead, 19-18. The teams traded scores until SF turned the disc over, and the Growlers called a timeout. SD worked the disc patiently all the way to the endzone but the pass hung in the air a second too long, leading to a FlameThrower score that tied the game at 21 with 1:18 remaining. Mark Slader hucked deep to Dunn for the go-ahead score with 41 seconds, but SF countered with a bladey flick over the top of the defense with 1.2 seconds left, 22-22. Despite a valiant effort from Leggio’s full field flick bomb, the disc was blocked in the endzone and the game headed to a 5 minute overtime!
The FlameThrowers won the coin toss, received the pull, scored, and the Growlers also held on O. After a long point and a SF throwaway, the Growlers completed several passes then took timeout to set-up their offense with 1:48 left. Inexplicably, the first centering pass was dropped and SF capitalized with a goal to go up 1. The crowd still believed with chants of “Let’s Go Growlers”, and Milardovich found an open Wes Groth to tie the game at 24 with 29 second left. SF received the pull, completed nine passes, then a hammer was thrown as time expired that was deflected backwards by Dunn, but somehow still found a diving Greg Cohen, a San Diego native, for the winning score, 25-24. Click here for video highlights of the game.
The Growlers were led by their captains Travis Dunn at +9 (6 assists, 4 goals, 1 defensive block, 2 turnovers) and Steven Milardovich at +7 (3 assists, 3 goals, 2 defensive blocks, 1 turnover). Honorable mention goes to Will Turner for his stellar defensive effort (4 blocks) and huge layout bids.
The Growlers are in a three-way tie for second place in the West with SF and SJ and travel north to play the Spiders this Saturday in an attempt to create some separation (the teams split their 2 previous matchups). San Diego’s next home game is Sunday, June 17, versus the Seattle Cascades at Mission Bay High School at 1:00 pm.