Trailing 3-2 at the half, the San Diego Seals were down but not out through the first 30 minutes of play. But the second half was a different story. The Saskatchewan Rush poured it on in the last 30 minutes, leaving no doubt who the better team was in its 14-8 road win over the Seals at Pechanga Arena in San Diego.
“We were not good enough tonight,” San Diego’s general manager and head coach Patrick Merrill said. “The last three games we just haven’t been good enough. [Saskatchewan] is a good team and I felt like we hung in there in the first half and played our game. I thought it had the makings to be a really good game for first place here tonight, and obviously it took us too long to get going offensively. In the third quarter, I thought we fell apart defensively. They went on a run and we couldn’t recover.”
The Rush replace the Seals atop the West Division with its win Friday night. The reigning NLL champions now own a half-game lead ahead of San Diego and have secured the season-series edge, 2-1.
Forward Ben McIntosh, the first overall pick in the 2014 NLL Entry Draft, had six goals and two assists in the affair. And five of his eight points on the night came in the third quarter that really put the game out of reach for the Seals.
With McIntosh leading the way, Saskatchewan scored seven goals and allowed just two in the third quarter, and they carried a 10-4 lead into the final 15 minutes of action. San Diego’s Connor Kelly put in his best effort, logging two goals and an assist in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the mounting deficit.
San Diego’s shot leaders, Dan Dawson (11), Kyle Buchanan (10) and Casey Jackson (9), combined for just three goals on the night. Rush goalie Adam Shute recorded 39 saves in the contest, and the Saskatchewan defense forced 12 turnovers to boot.
“I felt like we were way too passive,” Merrill said. “We have to find more ways to be aggressive and get inside. We’ve got to look at our systems We can’t have those types of breakdowns on either end. It just seemed like at times we weren’t on the same page. We’ve got to reset and refocus pretty quickly and get ready to bring a better effort.”
The Rush will take its momentum home to square off against the visiting Philadelphia Wings Saturday night, while San Diego’s next opportunity to rebound will be against the Colorado Mammoth at Pechanga Arena on Friday, April 19.