May 21, 2016 — Coming off their first bye of the season, the San Diego Growlers looked to get back on track as they hosted their SoCal rival, the Los Angeles Aviators. The teams split their previous two matchups, and this game would likely decide who still had a chance in the West Division playoff race.
The Aviators pulled to the Growlers to begin the first quarter and started with a defensive hand block and a quick deep throw for the first break score of the game, 1-0. The teams traded several offensive scores until LA broke San Diego again on a long point, 5-3. The Growlers cut the deficit to 1 point after scoring on offense, then had another chance before the quarter expired, but could not capitalize, 5-4.
Los Angeles started the second quarter with an offensive score and took advantage of a Growler throwaway on the next point to extend their lead to three, 7-4. San Diego fought back with a grind it out style possession to pull back within 2, but LA countered by working the disc through the middle of the zone defense to score, then rattled off three breaks in a row to go up 11-5 with 3:39 remaining. The Growlers finally stopped the bleeding by scoring on offense and punching in their first defensive break of the game, 11-7. San Diego had a golden opportunity for another break on the next point, but a costly turnover on the endzone led to a quick LA strike the other way, 12-7. Each team had chances to score before halftime, but both came up empty handed.
San Diego received LA’s pull to start the third quarter, but a couple more costly throwaways led to consecutive Aviator breaks, 14-7. The teams traded points until the Growlers showed some signs of life when Benton hucked deep to Cohen for a break score, 15-10. LA promptly returned the favor by scoring on offense and taking advantage of another throwaway for a break of their own, 17-10. Both teams traded scores four times before the quarter ended 21-14.
The Growlers needed some magic if they were going to come back from this deficit (they almost came back from a similar hole in their first meeting at LA), and they got off to a good start with a break, 21-15. San Diego turned up their defensive intensity and got a nice defensive block from Milardovich, but they weren’t able to capitalize and LA scored, 22-15. The Aviators’ Jeff Silverman made a highlight reel catch on the next point for a break, and then San Diego found its deep game when Clark hauled in a big flick throw, 23-16. In the end, there just was not enough time for the Growlers to come back from such a substantial LA lead, and the teams traded out to seal a 26-18 Aviators victory.
The Growlers were led by Ben Clark with a +4 performance (1 assist, 1 goal, 2 defensive blocks). Alec Benton (2 assists, 2 goals, 1 turnover), Nate Bridges (1 assist, 3 goals, 1 turnovers) and Casey Wu (1 assist, 2 goals) also contributed with solid games of +3. San Diego needs to find its offensive flow, reduce the number of throwaways, and turn up the defensive pressure if they intend on stopping this losing streak.
San Diego will host the two-time defending AUDL champion San Jose Spiders at their next home game on Sunday, June 5th at 1 pm at Junipero Serra High School.