25-23 LA Aviators (1-1) over SD Growlers (0-2)
Recap: All their talent, and the Growlers are winless through their first two games. Mickle, Lance, Gibson, and Ackley seemed more comfortable in their second game and started to establish a rhythm on offense, but the San Diego defense could not slow down the speed and hucks of LA. The Aviators came in with a much better gameplan, eliminating mistakes and starting to figure out the proper roles for their roster full of athletes.
LA Stat Leaders A – Bacon(7) / G – Nguyen(6) / D – Boyd, Carnegie(2) / Box Score
SD Stat Leaders A – Curtis, Lance(5) / G – Gibson(4) / D – Leggio, Mickle(2) / Box Score
Like Vancouver and Seattle, LA and San Diego also experienced the first match of their five-round regular season battle this past Saturday – San Jose and San Francisco also will play each other five teams in the wonky West Division schedule. Unquestionably, the Growlers led the SoCal expansion scene in preseason hype, but on the field, it appears the Aviators are gelling slightly faster.
“San Diego mostly stuck with either a junk zone or looked for a lot of switches in man defense,” Tyler Bacon said, who led the Aviators with seven assists in the two-point win. “When we were able to stay disciplined and move the disc at low stall counts, we constantly were able to find open targets downfield.”
Interestingly, Bacon helped lead the LA offense primarily from the cutting role, rather than the handler responsibilities he occupied in Week One against Seattle.
The Aviators took a 3-2 lead in the first quarter and never trailed again, leading 8-5 after one, 12-9 at half and 20-16 after a high scoring third. The advantage grew to five early in the fourth, shrunk to two late, and up by two in the final minute, LA’s steady offensive line, often featuring Elbogen, Bacon, Bryan Nguyen, Eric Lissner, Stephen Chang, Joe Forbes, and Grant Boyd, kept the possession and put the game away.
Defensively, Aviators leaders were quick to credit Andrew Pebley and Mitch Steiner as unsung heroes who, along with Jeff Silverman, Husayn Carnegie, and Greg Husak, helped contain San Diego’s top threats.
“They might not have filled out the stat sheet,” Bacon said. “But they made San Diego’s big time playmakers work hard for every touch as well as applied more cardiovascular punishment when they got opportunities on offense. I think this drew some tired throws, cuts, and defense out of the Growlers and we were able to capitalize.”
Los Angeles will relax this weekend and enjoy their win until preparations begin for an even tougher test. The Aviators will host the defending champion Spiders on Sunday, May 3.
“Can’t wait to see my old team in two weeks,” Elbogen said, the former Spider-turned-Aviator. “That should be a fun one.”