Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis
It was a “must win” for both the San Diego Seals (9-5) and the Philadelphia Wings (8-8) who made the trip to Pechanga Arena for an East vs West match up in front of 5,688 Seals fans. With a win, the Seals would lock in a play-off spot and go one and half games up in the West. The Wings would get closer to securing that elusive fifth spot, the Wildcard spot with a win. Unfortunately for San Diego, they would be without Dane Dobbie, while on the other side of the bench the Wings would have their star Matt Rambo back after being out since March 12. The Seals net-minder Frank Scigliano was sitting second in the league in saves with an .810 save percentage. Wings net-minder Zach Higgins wasn’t far behind with a .797 save percentage. San Diego had a rough go in Toronto the previous week and in the last four games have been unable to put up more than 10 goals in game. They needed to work on their transition game and ball movement which they did in the first quarter but seemed to lose that momentum until late in the game which was costly as the last-minute comeback in the fourth to tie it up sending the game into OT wasn’t enough. The Wings would fire that final goal only 31 seconds into the extra frame for the win. Final Score OT: Wings 13—Seals 12.
Trevor Baptiste (21-29) would win the opening draw for the Wings. In the last four games he’s won 73% of the draws, is third in the NLL with 67% FO%, is second in wins with 250 and fourth in LB with 162 so he’s pretty tough to beat. Tre LeClaire (2g, 2a) would open it up when he split the defenders and fired a twister shot near side pipe at 2:58 to get the Seals on the board 1-0. In transition, Matt Rambo (2g, 4a) got the feed from Ryan Wagner (1a) and fired a bouncer shot on the inside pipe to tie it up at 4:33. Kevin Crowley (1g, 5a) cut to the backside, tip toed the crease and dunked it stick side for the Wings lead 2-1 at 5:55. That’s when the Seals shut it down and would score five in a row. LeClaire would knot the equalizer on the give and go and uncorked one from way out through traffic over the shoulder at 8:05. Next up, Casey Jackson came around the back of the cage, flipped to Mac O’Keefe (1g, 1a) and he beat Higgins with a left-handed shot with 5:12 to go 3-2. Then Zack Greer (3g, 4a) with the high heat, shot over his defender and hit top corner with 4:46 remaining 4-2 Seals. The Seals transition game transition game was on point so far along with their ball movement which was keeping the Wings on their heels. With 2:42 on the ticker, Brett Hickey (1g, 1a) who was facing his former team for the first time since being traded, would hit top corner from way out with a low angle release shot that got Higgins to go low and the ball went top corner 5-2. It took only 23 seconds before they’d notch another. Austin Staats (3g, 1a) got the late feed and from in tight, went airborne, faked right, and went left for the dunk shot. So far this year, when leading after the first the Seal have not lost this year, but tonight that stat would fall. First quarter stats: SOG—Wings 11 Seals 15; Face-offs Wings 8-9 Seals 1-9; Saves—Wings 9 Seals 9. Score at the end of one: Wings 2—Seals 6.
It was a completely different Wings team that stepped onto the floor in the second. Kyle Jackson (1g, 3a) came from goal line extended (GLE) and with a little trickery, lept in front of the net, twisted, faked high and went low at 1:03. The goal was challenged by San Diego but there was inconclusive evidence 6-3 Seals. The lone goal for the Seals in the second came at the 2:15 mark from Staats. On the pick and roll, he came in tight, tip toed the crease, faked high and went low 7-3 Seals. At this point the Seals had matched their goal total from their game last week in Toronto but they wouldn’t notch another before the end of the first half. Ben McIntosh (4g, 1a) came across from the right wing, got top side and shot on the run far side low at 4:23 to start a six-goal run. Rambo would come from behind the cage, flip toss to Corey Small (3g, 1a) in tight and he beat Scigliano stick side 7-5 at the 7:36 mark. Small has always had great success against Scigliano in his career and tonight was no different. Kiel Matisz (1g, 4a) on a second chance effort would get the easy goal with Scigliano on the ground after making the save would hit the empty net at 8:10 putting them within one 7-6. They’d get the equalizer off a pick when Blaze Riorden (1g, 1a) on the front door faked right and went down low left side to tie it at 7’s with 5:18 in the half. San Diego’s off ball movement had slowed in the second and they had no transition game which proved to be costly. With 1:38 in the half, the Seals would go man down as the frustration built. Staats would head to the sin bin for a slashing call and the Wings who are first in the league in PP% made them pay. With 12 seconds on the shot clock and 1:08 in the second, Small shot past his defender and snuck it past Scigliano for the go-ahead power-play goal. San Diego had been held scoreless for 12 minutes and 45 seconds. Second quarter stats: SOG—Wings 22 Seals 10; Face-offs Wings 7-8 Seals 1-8; Saves—Wings 9 Seals 16. Score at the end of two: Wings 8—Seals 7.
The third was a defensive battle with both net-minders holding strong and standing on their heads in between the pipes each only allowing one goal apiece. The Wings would score early at 1:04 when McIntosh uncorked one deep from up top inside stick side for the two-goal lead 9-7. Philadelphia would go man down at 5:35. They are the only team in the league with under 10 minutes per game in penalties this year, but they are also ninth in PK% with 52.8%. On the other hand, San Diego is also ninth in the league in PP% with 42.9% and this stat held as they couldn’t score. In fact, neither team was placing their shots like they were earlier with most shots hitting mid chest of the men in between the pipes. It took an eternity before the next goal went onto the board. The Seals would finally score after 24 minutes and 21 seconds without a goal. Staats would end the drought and the six-goal run with a well-placed shot, a deceptive twister shot that he tucked under the stick side glove with 3:24 to go in the third. The Wings when leading after the third are 4-0 on the year and this stat held. Neither team would tally another before the end of the frame. Third quarter stats: SOG—Wings 12 Seals 15; Face-offs Wings 2-3 Seals 1-3; Saves—Wings 14 Seals 9. Score at the end of three: Wings 9—Seals 8.
The fourth quarter was an interesting one. The Wings would get hit with a five-minute major high-stick penalty against Jackson Suboch at the 2:39 mark. The Seals who were unable to capitalize on a five-minute major the week before, took advantage scoring two on the man-up opportunity to take the lead. At the 5:30 mark the Seals had perfect ball movement going, Casey Jackson (2g, 3a) set up behind the cage came around and tucked it in short side for the equalizer for the first power-play tally and we were knotted at 9 apiece. So far in the first five and half minutes San Diego had outshot Philadelphia 7-1 so they had really upped their game. It took only 60 seconds, when Wes Berg (5a) found Jackson cutting to the net and with the quick stick he fired it down low near side for their first lead since the 8:10 mark in the second. It had been 21 minutes and 40 seconds since the Wings had scored, all the way back to the 1:04 mark in the third. Rambo would team up with Small again, with the feed, Small with a well-placed shot would sting the top far corner for the hat-trick tying it up at 10-10 with 6:24 remaining in the fourth. The next goal was an impossible shot. Rambo would dodge, he sold the cross-crease dive to open the top right corner, got Scigliano to lean left and somehow found a tiny piece of the top corner and dunked it in for the go-ahead goal with 4:59 to go 11-10 Wings. McIntosh off the feed from Rambo with backside cut on the doorstep dunked it in high and tight top left corner for his hat-trick with 1:51 on the timer for the two-goal lead 12-10. You could see that San Diego had fire in their eyes as they wanted this win with a road trip next up in Colorado Saturday night. On the ensuing face-off although Baptiste would win the draw, the Seals would grab the loosie, Berg fed to Greer he turned left, the turned right for the finish and dunked it glove side in tight…beautiful feed…beautiful finish with 1:16 and plenty of time to tie it up. San Diego would get the next draw with Belgrave grabbing the loosie and called time out with 1:10 to go. They’d go with a six-on-five and the empty netter, so they had the best chance for the equalizer. With 36.4 on the buzzer, Greer from the outside faked far side and pulled it near side top corner for his first hat-trick of the season and the tying goal. After the ensuing face-off the Seals would win the draw, but the Wings defense was stellar and on a shot clock violation would not score. The clock would run out and we’d go into OT. Score at the end of four: Wings 12—Seals 12.
This would be the first time this season that fans would see an OT game at Pechanga Arena; San Diego has not played an OT game this year; and the Wings are 3-0 in OT this season.
In OT, Baptiste would win the opening draw and Wings Bench Boss Paul Day would call a time out six seconds in to draw up what would turn out to be the game winning play. With some excellent ball movement, McIntosh would get the one-handed flip toss from Crowley, and he’d uncork it five hole on Scigliano for his fourth on the night only 31 seconds in. Final Score OT: Wings 13—Seals 12.
Philadelphia Wings—SOG 51; Face-offs 21-29; Assists 20; LB 58; Saves 41
San Diego Seals—SOG 53; Face-offs 8-29; Assists 20; LB 72; Saves 38
The Philadelphia Wings (8-8) will head to MVP Arena to face the Albany FireWolves (7-9) on Saturday April 16, 2022, game time 7:00 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can catch the action on ESPN+. Fans in Canada can see the game on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
The San Diego Seals (9-5) are in Denver tonight to face the Colorado Mammoth (9-6) to determine who will take over first in the West. This is an extremely important game for both. When San Diego was in Colorado on December 11, 2021, they handily defeated Colorado by the score of 13-4. Colorado is coming off a two-game winning streak while San Diego is on a three-game slide. Both teams will need to bring the “A” game. Dillon Ward has been stellar in net giving the Bandits only their third loss on the year. This is the game to watch tonight. Fans in the USA can catch the action on ESPN+. Fans in Canada can see the game on TSN.ca or the TSN app.
Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©