Big-time players step up in the biggest games. That’s exactly what the San Diego Seals Dane Dobbie and Austin Staats did for their team on Saturday night in the thrilling 11-10 overtime victory on the road in Denver.
It was a game that had you on the edge of your seat and featured a little bit of everything: high-flying goals, acrobatic saves, bone-crushing hits, game-changing momentum swings, hearts pounding out of chests, and even socks being thrown on the floor. It was everything an NLL fan wanted out of a postseason duel.
Staats and Dobbie did everything they could early on to silence the “Loud House” – they combined for all three of the Seals’ 1st quarter goals. But they didn’t stop there. Dobbie had each of the Seals’ two goals in the 2nd quarter, and Staats had both of the Seals’ goals in the 3rd quarter. But it was the behind-the-back goal from Dobbie in overtime while he was falling down to win the game that took the cake. Dobbie and Staats combined for nine of the Seals 11 goals by the final whistle.
The Seals needed every one of those goals as the Mammoth stormed back from yet another three-goal deficit to come back and even hold the lead for most of the second half. Unlike last week though, the Seals found a second and third wind in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime to put together a rally of their own, then stole a road win to force a winner-take-all Game 3 in San Diego next weekend.
Don’t think, though, that Saturday night’s game was just the Staats and Dobbie show. The Seals also had significant contributions from Jeremy Noble, who had four assists, and Wes Berg, who had five assists on the night. In between the pipes, Frank Scigliano had 42 saves – it was his second 40+ save game this postseason. And on defense, guys were scrambling for loose balls, delivering de-possessing hits, and sacrificing their bodies by stepping in front of shots.
The dramatic Seals victory not only spoiled the night of all the Mammoth fans, but it will overshadow impressive efforts from Mammoth players such as Eli McLaughlin who had a six-goal sock trick, Robert Hope’s five caused turnovers and Dillon Ward’s 41-save night.
Staats, who clearly did all he could to steal the spotlight from the Mammoth, offered more than just goal-scoring heroics on Saturday night. Postgame, the dynamic scorer, was quick to praise the rest of his teammates for the total team effort that helped propel the Seals to victory in this must-win game.
“Everyone was working their butts off tonight; it just happened to fall the lefties way tonight,” Staats said. “It took us 60 minutes of a team effort. If it wasn’t for the righties or the lefties or the [defense] or Frank, we wouldn’t have come out with that win. It was a team effort.”
Each game in this series has been decided in the contest’s final minutes. If those two games indicate what to expect next Saturday, you will want to glue your eyes to your screen, so you don’t miss any of the action. Game 2 of this series was an instant classic, and Seals Head Coach Patrick Merrill is expecting another back-and-forth slugfest next weekend.
“This is a hell of a series, and we know it was going to be,” Merrill said. “They’re a great team, and to earn and chance to get to the NLL Finals, we knew it was going to be tough. It’s going to come down to the little details again, we know, and we know they’re going to be ready. We have to start preparing tomorrow.”
With momentum on their side and a chance to secure a rare appearance in a championship game for a San Diego sports organization, you know that the Seals will do anything and everything so that the Mammoth don’t spoil their moment for history next Saturday.