July 20, 2019
The San Diego Growlers hosted the Los Angeles Aviators in the 2019 AUDL West Divison Championship game, a rematch of last season's playoff contest. Jumping out of the gates with a great start, Dom Leggio defended a pass, then eventually threw the assist to Max Hume for the early break. The teams traded holds, then after an Aviators drop, Scott Radlauer's forehand to Hume connected for another break and a 3-1 lead. Los Angeles tied the game with an offensive hold and break, then both teams traded a couple goals. The Growlers held and took advantage of a turnover when Sam Fontaine fed Nate Bridges for the 7-5 lead. After a couple more LA scores, the Growlers led 8-7 heading into the second quarter.
The Growlers scored and Hume prevented a sure goal from LA, and Coach Kevin Stuart called a timeout to substitute in his offensive line. As is often the case, Sean Ham was the recipient of a deep pass and made an acrobatic catch, then dished to Jesse Cohen for the break, 10-7. The SoCal rivals traded, then Steven Milardovich intercepted the disc which led to a Trevor Purdy assist to Josh Kohl, 12-8. Los Angeles got back on track with a hold and two consectutive breaks scores to pull within one, but San Diego countered. The Aviators held, then Jonathan Helton found Michael Tran with 20 seconds left for the 14-12 lead. LA was one throw too late on their final possession of the first half as the buzzer sounded right before the would-be assist was released.
The Aviators took care of business on O, but Wes Groth's perfect backhand assist to Travis Dunn provided the answer, and LA held again. The teams traded, and the Los Angeles defense stepped up to provide two consecutive breaks and their first lead of the game, 17-16. After a Growlers' hold, Radlauer intercepted a pass and scored the bookend goal by out-jumping his defender to take the lead and momentum back, 18-17! After two offensive holds, Nate Bridges' big layout D led to a timeout. San Diego turned the disc over, but Dunn got it back with a huge interception, then Helton released a backhand just before the buzzer to Cohen for the 20-18 advantage.
San Diego scored first in the fourth quarter, Marcel Osborne recorded a block, and Fontaine dished to Hume for a break, 22-18. LA fought back by holding, but a highlight reel layout catch from Tran kept the difference at four. There were a couple turnovers on the next point and several minutes drained from the clock before the Aviators scored with 4:14 remaining, 23-20. San Diego's offense was in no rush to score and patient dump and swing motion led to a key hold. LA scored but the clock was a big factor at 24-21 and down three scores. The Growlers offense kept possession and ate up precious minutes before Dunn threw a hammer to Cohen for the final score of the game, 25-21!
Travis Dunn led the Growlers in plus/minus (+8) with 4 assists, 4 goals, and 1 defensive block. Michael Tran had 1 assist, 6 goals, and 1 block, Jesse Cohen recorded 1 assist, 4 goals, and 1 block, and Jonathan Helton produced 6 assists and 1 goal. Steven Milardovich, Max Hume, Scott Radlauer and Nate Bridges led the defensive unit with timely blocks and a solid offensive attack after turnovers were forced. The Growlers earned the victory with a convincing overall performance and are AUDL West Division Playoff Champions for the first time in franchise history! San Diego will advance to Championship Weekend in San Jose on Aug 10-11! Click here for tickets.