The San Diego Seals put together a complete game at Pechanga Arena San Diego on Saturday night, defeating the visiting Vancouver Warriors, 13-10, in a contest San Diego controlled from the jump.
“We thought we played a really good first half,” Seals general manager and head coach Patrick Merrill said. “We had a good start and getting that early lead in the first half gave us a confidence boost. We were also in the same situation in the last game, but we let it slip away from us. It was a real character game for us in the fourth [quarter].”
San Diego led 7-4 at the break, as forwards Casey Jackson and Austin Staats combined for nine points (4 G, 5A) through the first 30 minutes of play. Jackson’s two goals were the only scores from either side in the first quarter, while Staats started to catch fire in the second with two goals of his own and the momentum through the fourth quarter.
Staats, the Seals’ No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NLL Draft, did was he’s done all season: dominated the offensive end of the field and found the back of the net. He finished the affair with four goals, two assists and an impressive nine loose balls.
Praise for Staats’ performance followed suit, but he was quick to push all of the acclimation to his teammates in purple.
“My teammates helped me out,” Staats said. “I was getting chucked down a couple times in the past couple games by [Vancouver], so my teammates helped me out to get a little more separation and I got my shots in there.”
Seals veteran forward Kyle Buchanan was one of the guys creating separation for Staats with his own offensive efforts, as he took goalie Aaron Bold and the Warriors’ defense for a team-high five goals and one assist. He also scooped up nine loose balls like Staats.
“I think we started the game with a lot of energy and a lot of speed,” Buchanan said. “When our offense is moving our feet and moving the ball, very simple stuff, it gets the defense thinking. We’ve got a lot of weapons up there, so we’re getting the ball in the back of the net. It’s nice to have the Western Conference tie breaker against them, its huge and now we’re moving on to next week.”
Jackson, Staats and Buchanan drew the flashing lights with their scoring efforts, but the win was truly a collective effort. San Diego topped Vancouver in forced turnovers (11-5), loose balls (88-65) and faceoffs won (19-8).
Vancouver’s offense went through Jordan McBride and Mitch Jones, as the duo each scored four goals in the contest and combined for 21 shots. Forward Keegan Bal played his part in McBride’s and Jones’ success, picking up an assist on all four of McBride’s goals and one on Jones’ fourth-quarter goal. Warriors’ Logan Schuss, a seven-year NLL veteran and five-year player with the Warriors, tied Bal for the team-high in assists with five.
San Diego will take any leftover momentum from Saturday’s win to the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday, March 9 at Denver’s Pepsi Center. Faceoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PST.