The San Diego Seals (4-4) will host familiar foes at Pechanga Arena San Diego on Saturday night, squaring off against a Vancouver Warriors (3-7) team that has defeated and fallen to San Diego already this season.
Vancouver suffered an 11-10 loss at home to the Seals in January but followed the defeat up with a 14-6 beatdown of the Seals in San Diego in February. Warriors forward Keegan Bal almost single-handedly took down the Seals in the teams’ most recent affair.
Bal, Vancouver’s third-round pick in 2013, had scored just six goals in his NLL career before taking on San Diego February 8, 2019. He doubled his career goals total in the contest, logging six goals and four assists en route to the Warriors’ 14-6 win over San Diego. Bal dropped down to the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League, where won three straight President’s Cups and won league MVP with the St. Albert Miners (Senior B), before returning to the Warriors this season.
To avoid falling to Bal and the Warriors again and dropping the three-game series, San Diego will look for rookie phenom Austin Staats to make things happen on the offensive end.
The 2018 NLL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick, Staats was selected as The World Games Athlete of the Month for his efforts in January and currently leads the Seals in goals (20), points (37) and shots on goal (93). The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Six Nations, ON native has proven capable of dominating in one-on-one situations near the net and has been the key to San Diego’s success offense all season long.
San Diego has leaned on three seasoned vets in Kyle Buchanan, Dan Dawson and Garrett Billings to facilitate Staats and the rest of the Seals’ offense so far this year. The seemingly ageless trio have each logged 19-plus assists and 27-plus points.
While Bal has made a meteoric rise in recent weeks, six-year veteran forward Mitch Jones has been the epitome of consistency as the Warriors’ top offensive weapon. Acquired via trade in November 2018, Jones leads Vancouver in goals (20), assists (29), points (49) and shots on goal (100). His 20 goals also rank tied for ninth in the NLL.
On the defensive end, Warriors’ Matt Beers has been a force, logging 15 forced turnovers and scooping up 84 loose balls on the year. Tor Reinholdt has played that role for San Diego as the team’s top defender, as he has recorded 12 forced turnovers and 60 loose balls.
Goals will be hard to come by for both sides with the success of the goalies scheduled to start in the Saturday contest. Vancouver goalie Eric Penney ranks third in the NLL in save percentage at .790, and San Diego’s Frank Scigliano ranks just ahead of him at second (.795).
Faceoff is set for 7:00 p.m. PT. Warriors’ and Seals’ faithful can watch the game on the B/R Live app available through iTunes, Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon Fire and Roku.