August 20, 2021 --- With a home playoff game already secured, the San Diego Growlers hosted the San Jose Spiders to finish off the last game of the regular season. It was also Fan Appreciation Night so all kids received a free disc at the door and the crowd was entertained with other giveaways and games.
On an almost windless night, San Diego and San Jose traded successful deep throws and offensive scores, and the Spiders registered the first break for an early 2-1 lead. The teams traded a pair of goals, and after a Hunter Corbett interception, Zac Schakner dished to Steven Milardovich for the break and lead 5-4. The Growlers doubled down when a Milardovich block led to Stefan Samu assisting to Jeff Silverman for another break, but the Spiders held and broke back to tie the game at 6s. With no time remaining in the quarter, Travis Dunn reeled in Jonathan Helton’s hammer in the back of the endzone for the goal, 7-6.
The Growlers took advantage of a turnover when Reggie Sung connected with Will Turner for the break, but the Spiders struck back with a hold and break, 8-8. Righting the ship, Tim Okita placed a slick lefty forehand down the sideline to a streaking Wes Groth for the hold, but San Jose countered. San Diego held then broke after calling a timeout as Groth hucked to Dunn, 11-9. On the next point, Milardovich intercepted the disc then immediately threw to Michael Tran for another break. Seizing the momentum, the Growlers cemented their lead with two additional breaks (Silverman to Turner and then Dunn to Helton). The Spiders ended the fist half with a buzzer beater catch from SDSU alumnus Jackson Stearns over a crowd of players, but still found themselves behind 14-10.
San Diego started the third quarter by slicing through San Jose’s zone as Givol hit Dunn for the goal, then Tran’s layout block and eventual assist to Sung increased the lead to 16-10. After a San Jose hold, Helton dished to a sliding Wes Groth in the endzone to register his 3rd assist of the game and 358th of his career, tied for most all-time in AUDL history with Keenan Plew! San Jose kept fighting with a hold and break, and after Paul Lally connected with Helton, the Spiders countered and broke again to climb back in the game, down 18-15. Both teams held to close out the quarter at 19-16 in favor of San Diego.
San Jose continued to make plays with a score and San Diego matched them with a Dunn to Kyle Rubin combination. The Spiders scored and broke to get the game close, 20-19, but Corbett threw a perfect forehand to Helton on the next possession to bounce back. Sensing the need to make a big play, Milardovich rose to the occasion to prevent a goal with a huge layout block, and the Growlers marched the full length of the field with a Turner to Bryce Lozinski break score with 4:05 left on the clock. After a Spiders throwaway, the Growlers called timeout and secured another break for a more comfortable 23-19 lead late in the game. The teams traded out before San Diego earned a 24-21 win and improved to 10-2 for a regular season AUDL West Division Title.
The Growlers were led by Steven Milardovich (1 assist, 3 goals, 3 blocks) and Travis Dunn (4 assists, 4 goals, 1 block) with +7 performances. Kyle Rubin was solid and contributed 4 goals as well.
San Diego will host the West Division Playoff game at Mission Bay HS on Saturday, August 28 at 6 pm vs the Dallas Roughnecks. This is a rematch of the 2019 AUDL Championship Semi-Final and this season’s rubber match as both teams earned a home victory. The winner will advance to Championship Weekend in Washington, DC on Sep 10-11 for a chance to claim the 2021 AUDL Title.