July 31, 2021 --- The first place San Diego Growlers had their sights on getting one step closer to a playoff berth as they hosted the Seattle Cascades at Mission Bay HS on a pleasant Saturday evening. Tim Okita began the 1st quarter with an assist to Jonathan Helton, but Seattle held and broke for the early 2-1 advantage. Dom Leggio found Khalif El-Salaam for the answer, and after a Cascades throwaway, Jordan Queckboerner dished to Max Hume for the break, 3-2. The teams traded several scores before the Growlers cashed in a Travis Dunn goal at the end of the quarter, up 6-5.
Both the Cascades and the Growlers traded 3 offensive holds with Jesse Cohen tallying a couple goals. Then, after nice dump defense forced an errant Seattle throw, El-Salaam connected with Michael Tran for the break and a 10-8 lead. The Cascades struck back, and a Hunter Corbett layout grab kept the Growlers on pace, but Seattle held yet again, 11-10. After a couple more holds from each side, San Diego fell just short of securing a score, but led 13-12 going into halftime.
To start the third quarter, Lior Givol assisted to Paul Lally, and the Growlers forced multiple Cascades turnovers on the next possession. Finally, after a block from Will Turner, El-Salaam sent a deep throw to Queckboerner who tip-toed the sideline for an amazing break score, 15-12. Each squad held twice despite giving the other team chances to break. On the next point that featured multiple turnovers, Turner threw to Scott Radlauer for the emphatic spike and break, 18-14. Seattle had a great chance to score as time was about to expire but the attempt was thwarted by a layout block from Queckboerner.
For the second time in the game, the Growlers tight defense caused the Cascades to burn a timeout, but Seattle held on, 18-15. Corbett found Helton to hold, but Seattle answered back, then Dunn assisted to Cohen, but the Cascades kept within striking distance, 20-17. After a Seattle break, San Diego marched down the field and Dunn dished to El-Salaam for the 21-18 lead with 3:39 remaining. The Cascades held and then took advantage of a Growler misfire to pull within 21-20 with 1:43 remaining. San Diego calmly advanced the disc up the field, but overthrew a sure goal with 57 seconds left, and Seattle called their final timeout to get their offensive line in the game. The Cascades worked the disc downfield and looked like they may tie the game, but Steven Milardovich rose up for the defensive block with 1 second remaining, knocking the disc out of the endzone and securing the victory!
Statistically, the Growlers were led by Travis Dunn with a +5 performance (4 assists, 2 goals). Jonathan Helton (2 assists, 4 goals) and Khalif El-Salaam (3 assists, 2 goals) contributed a strong +4 effort as well. At 7-2, San Diego remains in first place in the Wild West Division, and will host their SoCal rival, the Los Angeles Aviators, on Saturday, August 7, at Mission Bay HS at 5 pm.