Justin Ivey, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
The Saskatchewan Rush (3-1) travelled south to play the San Diego Seals (1-4) in the final game of Week 7 in the NLL on Sunday. The team stat line showed an even match. The Rush outshot the Seals 58-52, but the Seals gathered more loose balls (73-70). Both teams were dead even in the faceoff circle going 12-24. The difference maker was the quality of the goaltending. Saskatchewan’s Evan Kirk (43 saves) had three less saves than San Diego’s combination of Frank Scigliano (33 saves) and Nick Damude (13 saves), but he came up big when required including three breakaways in the first quarter where there wasn’t a Rush defender on the right side of the field. Without the stellar goaltending, the Rush would not have led for the entire game. San Diego never trailed by more than four but could not break through to take the helm. A defensive game from both sides left the Seals still searching for their first home win of the season. Final Score – Saskatchewan-12, San Diego-9.
It took over six minutes for this game to get rolling and it was Saskatchewan opening the flood gates. Matthew Dinsdale (2G, 1A) drove across the middle of the floor while the Seals defense was still settling for the opening goal with 8:39 remaining. It was his first of two goals in the quarter, sandwiched around a Ryan Keenan (2G, 2A) score. After his second, the Rush had a commanding 3-0 lead with under five minutes to play in the first. Finally, the Seals found an opening. Wes Berg (2G, 3A) drew two defenders as he backed away from the net and was able to fire a pass around to a wide-open Jeremy Noble (2G, 2A) on the crease. A few fakes and a well-placed shot brought the score to 3-1 with 3:11 to play. Saskatchewan answered before the final horn when Ben McIntosh (4G, 1A) netted his first of the game with only 25 seconds left. At the end of the first quarter, Saskatchewan led San Diego 4-1.
In the first half of the second quarter, San Diego got in a rhythm and outscored the Rush 3-1. Connor Kearnan (2G, 1A) caught a cross crease pass from Noble with his toes on the line and buried the ball over Kirk’s shoulder into the corner. Just over a minute later, Jeff Cornwall (1G) answered for the Rush with his only goal of the game but the Seals did not pout. Connor Fields (2G, 3A) scored two in a row, the second with 7:32 remaining to bring San Diego within one goal. They couldn’t keep it up and the Rush answered with a two-goal run. Keenan scored on the power play with four minutes left, and McIntosh shot over a pick from outside just 27 seconds later to get the lead back up to three for the visitors. With a late power play opportunity, the Seals got one back on Kearnan’s late effort with just six ticks left in the half. Coming out of a timeout with 17 seconds left, the ball swung from left to right and Kearnan ended up with it on the crease. He dove for the finish and the Seals went into the locker room only down two. At the half, Saskatchewan led San Diego 7-5.
Saskatchewan flipped the script in the third quarter and outscored San Diego 3-1 in the first half of the frame. San Diego scored first to get the deficit back to one on a one timer from the crease by Berg, but in the next four minutes Saskatchewan rattled off three unanswered. Chris Corbeil (1G) used his wheels and took it all the way for an unassisted transition goal just under a minute after the Berg score. Jeff Shattler (1G, 1A) scored his first of the game followed by Mark Matthews (1G, 5A) first as well. With 9:23 remaining in the third, the Rush now held their biggest lead of the game 10-6 and chased starting goaltender Scigliano from the net in favor of Damude off the bench. The teams traded power play goals, Berg for the Seals and McIntosh for the Rush, before Kyle Buchanan (1G, 2A) closed the scoring in the third with 20 seconds on the clock. At the end of three, Saskatchewan led San Diego 11-8.
The fourth quarter was ruled by defense. The Seals fell behind by four again with McIntosh’s fourth goal of the game 6:11 in on a power play and they could not crawl back in. The Rush couldn’t score either though, happy to use as much clock as possible in the waning minutes. Noble netter his second of the game with one second left on the clock to bring us to our final. Final Score: Saskatchewan-12, San Diego-9.
The Saskatchewan Rush (3-1) host the Colorado Mammoth (3-2) on Friday, January 18 at 8:30 PM EST.
The San Diego Seals (1-4) travel to play the Halifax Thunderbirds (4-0) on Saturday, January 18 at 6:00 PM EST.