July 21, 2018 — The Growlers headed north to LA to square off against their SoCal rival in the first playoff appearance in franchise history. San Diego was coming off a huge win the previous weekend at home against the Aviators so they were a confident group headed into this rematch.
The Aviators started the game with two breaks, the Growlers held, and after a Will Griffin hand block, Wes Groth’s smooth flick found Trevor Purdy for a break and a 2-2 tie. Both teams settled in and hit their offensive stride by trading several goals with LA ahead 6-5. San Diego was unable to score on their last possession of the quarter due to a drop in the end zone, but a great defensive block by Michael Tran prevented the LA break as time ran out.
LA received the second quarter pull and both offenses picked up where they left off with several strong offensive holds. But a couple more difficult drops in and around the end zone led to 2 more Aviator breaks that gave them the lead 11-7. The trading resumed, highlighted by a Dom Leggio interception in the end zone for a Callahan score. After a hold for each team, Michael Tran’s bending flick to Travis Dunn was the final score of the first half with the Growlers behind 13-10.
San Diego started the offensive trading barrage like a heavyweight boxing match that lasted almost the entire third quarter. Even after a Growlers turnover, Steven Milardovich ranged half the field to defend a hammer throw and was eventually fed by Travis Dunn for the bookend score. The last San Diego possession of the third quarter was controversial when no foul was called after a Los Angeles defender contacted the thrower, which caused a turnover. The Aviators picked up the disc and threw a floating pass into a group that was dropped after two Aviators collided mid-air, but a foul was called on a Growler defender instead. LA was awarded the disc on the end zone and scored with 1 second left to extend their lead to 19-15.
After a couple trades to start the fourth, the Growlers had their first chance to break but the Aviators held. Two points later, San Diego finally converted a much-needed break to get to 23-20 when Trevor Purdy dished to Sam Fontaine with 6:16 remaining. More trading, then the Growlers broke again with a Travis Dunn assist to Scott Radlauer, 24-22 with 2:02 left on the clock. The Aviators felt the momentum shift, called a timeout to regroup, and were able to score a pivotal offensive hold as Mark Elbogen made an incredible leaping catch on a high-stall bailout throw. That play sealed the game with time winding down, and LA went on to win 26-22 to advance to Championship Weekend in Madison, WI. Click here for game highlights!
Fittingly, the Growlers were led by their captains Travis Dunn (4 assists, 4 goals, 1 turnover) and Steven Milardovich (5 assists, 2 goals, 1 defensive block, 2 turnovers) with +7 and +6 games, respectively.
San Diego suffered a loss in their first West Division playoff game in franchise history but also gained valuable experience for the future. With a young and talented roster, the Growlers figure to be in the playoff mix for many years to come. Thanks to all our partners, sponsors, fans and supporters!!!