Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Derrick Tuskan
On Friday April 15, 2022, Panther City (7-9) headed to Pechanga Arena to face the San Diego Seals (9-7) for the final meeting of the two teams in the 2021-22 season. This was also the final home game for San Diego and their 6,200 fans would see the team drop their fifth in a row, not what they were hoping for. The Seals had beaten Panther City in the last two meetings, but even though Dane Dobbie was back from the IR and sparked the offense in the second, the San Diego offense did what it has done in the last four contests and their offense went stagnant in the last frame. Panther City would see Phil Caputo come away the hero scoring not only the tying goal, but the GWG in the last 1:31 to overtake the Seals for the win. Final Score: Panther City 11—Seals 10.
The first got off to a slow start with the two teams putting only five shots for the Seals and six shots for Panther City on cage in the first five and half. Austin Staats would get nabbed for a holding call giving the visitors an early man-up advantage and they’d capitalize. Will Malcom (2g, 3a) from way out fired one around the screen and found a hole between the legs of Frank Scigliano at 6:37 and they were up 1-0 with a power-play goal. Staats (2g, 3a) would make up for his mistake when he created some separation and fired an overhand shot stinging the top corner for his 30th on the year at 7:54 for the equalizer 1-1. The teams would trade possessions for two and change before Patrick Dodds (2g, 4a) would get a three-goal run going for Panther City and the go-ahead tally 2-1 with 4:46 in the frame. With 3:07 left, Phil Caputo (4g) from out in front would pick up the garbage, dive across the crease and dunk it far side 3-1. Seals Bench Boss Patrick Merrill threw the challenge flag which seems to be happening a lot these days for all the teams with the ever-present crease dives, but after about three minutes, with inconclusive evidence to overturn, the goal stood. On their next possession and with four seconds on the shot clock, Dodds would wind up from the left side, catching Scigliano off guard and fired it five-hole and the ball passed the plane of the goal line just as the shot clock hit zero with 2:35 left. Right then, Scigliano was pulled in favor of Chris Origlieri the youngest player in NLL history at 19. On the Seals next possession, Casey Jackson had a low to high shot from the backside corner, but it was called back as the shot clock expired. The Seals offense in the first was very stagnant, they had little ball movement, and they were slow to get on the floor. While on the other side, Panther City was able to get their offense set up quickly which was evident by the score. First quarter stats: SOG—Panther City 12 Seals 15; Face-offs—Panther City 3-6 Seals 3-6; Saves—Panther City 14 Seals 8. Score at the end of one: Panther City 4—Seals 1.
Panther City would get it going quickly in the second. Caputo was left wide open on the left side, got a beautiful feed from Malcolm, headed to the cage and on a one-on-none faked left-right-left and dunked it near side 53 seconds in putting them up 5-1. After 10:14 of being kept out of the net, Brett Hickey (3g, 1a) would end the drought for the Seals with a step-down laser blowing it past Nick Damude far side pipe at 3:08 closing the gap to three 5-2. In Panther City’s previous meetings against the Seals, they have led by multiple goals and lost, so they could not let up. Once again, the net-minders were playing well blocking shots and finally after four and half, the Seals would score. Jeremy Noble (2g, 1a) who had not scored since March 19, would finally get on the board. The shot clock had not reset, Noble was at the restraining line, and from up top, fired one over the shoulder of Damude that hit just under the pipe at 7:43 and they were within two 5-3. At 6:16, Panther City’s Dylan Hutchinson (1g) in transition on a three-on-two faked high and went low on Origlieri and put it just under his arm 6-3 for the visitors. Right then, Origlieri headed to the bench and Scigliano headed back to the cage. On the ensuing draw, Cam Holding (1a) who has 111 LB on the year, would scoop the loosie and fire it cross field to Dane Dobbie (1g, 4a) coming off the bench, and Dobbie on the run placed a beautiful BTB shot past a shocked Damude at 6:16 sparking the Seals offense and sending them on a five-goal run 6-4. With 4:38 in the half, Hickey got the feed from Dobbie and with a hard cut from in tight, finished it on the inside pipe from in tight 6-5. The Seals would go man up with 3:11 in the half and they’d capitalize. San Diego with great ball movement, got the feed to Casey Jackson (2g, 3a) on GLE and he dropped it in on the left side for the equalizer 6-6 and the power-play marker. San Diego would get their first lead of the contest with 1:11 on the clock and another from Jackson with a twister shot in tight far side low. Second quarter stats: SOG—Panther City 7 Seals 17; Face-offs—Panther City 5-9 Seals 4-9; Saves—Panther City 5 Seals 11. Score at the end of two: Seals 7—Panther City 6.
The third slowed to a snail’s pace and was a defensive battle of the net-minders with a combined total of three goals. Scigliano stopped 11 shots on cage while Damude stopped five. Hickey would get it going at 1:38 from right out in front splitting his defenders with a bouncer shot to beat Damude five-hole putting the Seals up 8-6 giving him the hat-trick on the night. After almost six full minutes of scoreless lacrosse, Malcom would break the 13:43 minute scoring drought for Panther City from the right wing when he snapped the shot inside pipe at 7:27 getting them back to within one 8-7. It was a track meet for the next three minutes and 15 seconds before the next point went up on the board. Dobbie shot on cage and Damude made the save, but Noble who was out in front of the net, cleaned up the garbage when Damude was low and found an opening around the screen with 4:15 to go and his second on the night. The is the first time this season that Noble has scored two goals in a game. With 15.8 in the frame, the Seals would get hit with an illegal substitution penalty but did not capitalize before the buzzer. Third quarter stats: SOG—Panther City 7 Seals 12; Face-offs—Panther City 2-4 Seals 2-4; Saves—Panther City 5 Seals 11. Score at the end of two: Seals 9—Panther City 7.
The wheels fell off the Seals offense in the fourth while Panther City’s offense was able to set up and outscored the home squad four to one. Just as the man up ended, Cam Milligan (1g, 1a) from out in front went low-to-low at 2:13 closing the gap to one 9-8. Dean Fairall (1g, 1a) with a no angle shot on GLE would sneak one in five-hole at 4:36 tying the game 9-9 the first time since it was tied 1-1 with 7:06 left in the first. Panther City would go man down at the 5:10 mark. San Diego is 6 of 15 against them so far this season, but they’d forget that stat and notch the man up marker. Forty-three seconds in, Staats from in tight, went airborne threw three fakes while in the air and dunked it over the right shoulder of Damude at 5:53 for the go ahead tally 10-9. But that was it for the Seals and it started getting chippy after that. Panther City went man up with 3:09 as it got physical and Caputo on the rebound scooped the garbage again, jumped and dunked it far side for the power-play tally hat-trick to tie it at 10’s with 1:31 on the clock. With 27.2 Caputo notched his fourth when he fired one through traffic, started low and hit far side pipe for what turned out to be the GWG. San Diego would call a time out with 18.9 and went with the empty net but couldn’t find a way to find the back of the net like they did the weekend before and would drop their fifth in a row. Final Score: Panther City 10—Seals 10.
Panther City Lacrosse Club—SOG 38; Face-offs 13-25; Saves 45; Assists 13; LB 45; PP 2-3
San Diego Seals—SOG 55; Face-offs 12-25; Saves 27; Assists 17; LB 41; PP 1-2
San Diego’s last two games are “Must Wins” in order to hold onto second in the West. They are now a full game behind the Colorado Mammoth, but still hold the tiebreaker against the Calgary Roughnecks as they have defeated them twice. It’s an extremely close race in the West at this point with the teams vying for that home advantage for the playoffs.
The San Diego Seals (9-7) will head north of the border to face their Western Division rivals the Saskatchewan Rush (5-10) at Sasktel Centre on Saturday April 23, game time 9:30 p.m. EST. This is the “Game of the Week” in the USA so fans can catch the action on ESPNU or ESPN+. Fans in Canada can catch the game on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
The Panther City Lacrosse Club (7-9) will play host to the Georgia Swarm (8-7) at Dickies Arena, in Ft. Worth, TX on Saturday April 23, game time 8:30 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+. This is the “Game of the Week” for fans in Canada and they can catch the action on TSN or the TSN app.
Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©