Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Di Miller
On Friday December 3, 2021 NLL fans all across the world got to see their first game in almost two years and the only ones disappointed were the Seals fans when they would see the game slip away from their team in the last few minutes. It was a defensive battle throughout with the net-minders, Alex Buque of Vancouver (46 Saves, 53 Shots Against, 7 GA) and his counterpart, Frankie Scigliano of San Diego (30 Saves, 38 Shots Against, 8 GA) keeping the game under double digits in scoring. Dane Dobbie made his debut with the Seals after being traded from the Calgary Roughnecks where he had spent his career and would score the first goal of the season for his new team. He stepped up while Austin Staats is still out recovering from the knee injury he suffered during the 2019-20 season and the team is hoping he’ll be back next week. Some rookies even got in on the action as well with Tre Leclaire and Mac O’Keefe from San Diego notching their first career NLL goals; while Adam Charalambides from Vancouver was able to score his first career NLL goal and also notching the game winning goal. Final Score: Vancouver 8—San Diego 7.
The Seals would come up with the opening draw but the Warriors would be first to get on the board with Mitch Jones (5g, 1a) 1:12 in (assist Matthew Dinsdale). San Diego continued to struggle with their offensive sets early on and couldn’t find a way to get it past the Buque wall. Vancouver would be first to head to the Sin Bin at the 9:39 mark but the Seals couldn’t capitalize. During the first nine minutes Buque stood on his head and was extremely strong in between the pipes even fighting off a two-on-one making 10 saves in the first 12 minutes. The Warriors were showing some great offensive moves, but they also couldn’t break through Scigliano. With less than two seconds left in the first, Buque made a quick stick save on his right side to keep the Seals out of the net. Score at the end of one: Vancouver 1—San Diego 0.
It was a tale of two quarters heading into the second. San Diego came out with a bang. Dane Dobbie (1g, 4a) would open it up at the 1:18 mark (assist to Wes Berg) tying it a 1 apiece. Tre Leclaire (2g, 1a) would notch his first career NLL goal when he uncorked and fired a low side arm shot through traffic at 3:01 to put the Seals on top 2-1. The second quarter really saw a turnaround on the San Diego side of the floor. Their transition was better, they had more shots on the cage and they were being more aggressive. On the other side of the floor, Vancouver hadn’t scored a goal since the 1:32 mark in the first and although Buque was making quality saves, the offense wasn’t making quality shots and continued to turnover the ball. The Warriors would get their first man-up opportunity off a holding penalty but didn’t capitalize. Finally after seven and a half minutes of scoreless lacrosse, Vancouver broke the drought. Charalambides was in front of the net but instead of taking the shot, saw Keegan Bal (1g, 3a) coming around the backside unnoticed, made the pass and Bal was able to slam dunk the shot behind the inside shoulder of Scigliano 10:25 into the second and 24:13 minutes since their first goal and tied it at 2-2. But it was short lived as Leclaire on the two man game came around the pick by Berg and fired it low through the five-hole putting them up again 3-2 with 2:20 left in the half. But with one second on the clock, Jones was able to tie the game for Vancouver. STATS: Vancouver—SOG 12; FO 3-7; Saves 28 San Diego—SOG 31; FO 4-7; Saves 9. Score at the end of two: Vancouver 3—San Diego 3.
The Seals came out of the locker room with a mission in mind and scored three goals in the first five minutes and 19 seconds. Wes Berg (1g, 2a); Casey Jackson (1g, 1a); and Zack Greer (1g) would put their team up 6-3 and the fans were ecstatic. But it would be Jones who would stop the party and the three goal run with a nifty back down, spin and bullet on the inside pipe at 8:47 for the hat-trick and the score of 6-4 still in favor of San Diego. With less than 30 seconds in the third, the Seals would get nabbed for an illegal substitution so the Warriors had their second man-up opportunity and who better than Jones to take advantage. With five seconds on the clock, Jones fired it on the cage, Scigliano made the initial save, but it trickled behind him and into the cage putting the Warriors to within one. Score at the end of three: San Diego 6—Vancouver 5.
Both teams were fired up and playing strong on both ends of the floor heading into the last 15. The Seals would see rookie Mac O’Keefe (1g, 1a) get around his defender and with an underhand sting to the top hand corner get one past Buque 1:27 in for his first career NLL goal putting San Diego back up by two 7-5. That was it for the Seals as the Warriors found the momentum scoring the final three. Jones on another man-up goal at 7:20 and Dinsdale with his first (1g, 3a) at 11:56. Vancouver would take the lead off a skip pass through the middle of the defense by the rookie Charalambides giving them their first lead since 1:32 in the game and the GWG. Final Score: Vancouver 8—San Diego 7.
San Diego—53 SOG; 30 Saves; 7-18 FO; 0-3 PP
Vancouver—38 SOG; 38 Saves; 11-18 FO; 2-3 PP
Vancouver—Mitch Jones 5g, 1a, 2 PPG
Vancouver—Alex Buque 58 Saves, 46 Shots Against, 7 GA
The Vancouver Warriors (1-0) will head to Ft. Worth, TX to face the Panther City Panthers at Dickies Arena on Friday December 10, 2021. Game time 8:30 p.m. EST. This game can be seen on ESPN+ in the USA, on TSN.ca or the TSN app in Canada.
The San Diego Seals (0-1) will head to Denver, CO to face the Colorado Mammoth at Ball Arena on Saturday December 11, 2021 Game time 8:30 p.m. EST. This is the NLL Game of the Week & it can be seen on ESPN.
Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©