They wouldn’t have written it up this way, but yet again, a slow start from the Colorado Mam-moth who dug themselves into too deep of a hole to climb out of. After falling 13-10 to the San Diego Seals tonight, the Mammoth lost their fourth home game in six chances this season.
With the season-series on the line, if the Seals were to win, the Mammoth needed their defence to step up and also take advantage of offensive opportunities. Yet, in the first half, the Seals out-played the home side behind a smooth offence and steady goaltending.
Seals netminder Frank Scigliano looked crisp from the get-go, all-in-all making 44 saves in the contest. His opposition, Dillon Ward, matched him at times, even having a few highlight-worthy stops, but could not disallow enough of the barrage from the Seals.
The visitors had a pair of goals from Kyle Buchanan and Casey Jackson and saw the veteran Dan Dawson feed out six assists on the evening. But the team’s first star of the night was Garrett Billings who had three goals and four assists. His seven points on the evening are his most since February 2016.
For the Mammoth, the newest of newcomers to the franchise, Cory Vitarelli, attacked Scigliano early and often. He scored the Mammoth’s first goal of the game and would finish with 10 shots (second-most taken by a Mammoth player tonight), that goal and an assist. Another, newcomer to the Mammoth’s roster tonight would also make his mark, but not until the second half. That other newcomer was Jeff Wittig, who played in his first NLL game tonight, scored two goals and added two assists. His excitement when he scored both goals was incredible to watch. He nearly jumped out of his shoes while simultaneously fist-pumping the air. For he and Vitarelli, this newfound production could be a key to winning a few games down the stretch.
It’s almost to be expected at this point, but Eli McLaughlin netted his first of three goals on the evening in the first half. His one point blossomed into six for the night following an explosive second half that included two more goals and a trio of assists. McLaughlin has now scored at least six points in three of his last four games and has five on the year. He has clearly been the Mammoth’s best and most consistent offensive weapon this season.
Unfortunately, McLaughlin’s burst wasn’t enough to get out of their 7-2 deficit at the half. What was admirable though about the Mammoth’s performance tonight was their fight in the final 30 minutes. They staged several runs to cut the Seals lead but had their backs broken when the Seals would counter just in time to keep their lead to two or three goals.
In an attempt to shake things up in net, Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle replaced Ward with Steve Fryer late in the third quarter. In just under 18 minutes, Fryer stopped seven of nine shots and basically did all he could to keep the game from getting away from his squad.
The Mammoth’s playoff chances took a hit tonight as the Calgary Roughnecks also won on Sat-urday, pushing them and the Seals further ahead in the West Division standings. They also fell behind the Vancouver Warriors, who currently hold that tiebreak in that season-series – the Mammoth play the Warriors on back-to-back nights on March 22nd and 23rd.
This team has shown they have the pieces and the talent to win ballgames if they can play a con-sistent 60 minutes of lacrosse, it’s just not happening as often as many would like.
The Mammoth have a game against the Roughnecks next weekend to make up that ground that was lost tonight. If they can, they may move back into the final playoff spot and might prove they can play a full 60 minutes every game, so the season is far from over. However, more in-complete games like tonight will likely lead to an early vacation.