With momentum on their side, the Vancouver Warriors are poised to grab one more win in the calendar year on a rare early Sunday game at Rogers Arena.
The San Diego Seals are taking the short West Coast road trip up to Vancouver following their 16-11 loss against the Calgary Roughnecks on Friday night in the hopes of avoiding a winless 0-2 Week 5 and starting this NLL season 0-4. In the other locker room, the Warriors are looking to carry the energy from their emotional Week 3 win versus the New York Riptide to snag their first back-to-back wins since moving into their new home under their new name at the start of the 2019 season.
The Warriors have been preparing for the Seals all week long and used Friday night for an extra practice and video session. Often, teams are relying on the prior week’s footage to get a sense of their competition, but with the late-week game, the Warriors have taken the opportunity to watch the Seals first performance this weekend to get a feel of what their competition will be bringing to battle, said Warriors head coach Chris Gill.
“We’ve got a big opportunity here with this divisional game,” Gill said. “We’re jacked, we’re pumped and ready to go. We’ve watched a lot of film over the last week and a half preparing for [the Seals]. We’ll also watch the game [Friday] after practice to get a feel for what’s going on.”
For the Warriors to put together another win, their defense will need to hold strong against the wings sharpshooters. Gill says the team is going to need a next-man-up mentality to continue to deal with the absence of Nik Bilic in the back end to stop the likes of Wesley Berg and Zach Greer, who had four and seven points respectively on Friday night.
“It’s tough to replace a guy like Nik, so it’s going to have to be an offense by committee sort of thing,” Gill said. “Everyone wants to pull their weight plus a little bit of his, so I think it’s going to be a group effort.”
Anchoring the defense behind the team’s captain, Matt Beers, who leads the team with six caused turnovers, will be one of the two very capable Warriors goalies, Aaron Bold or Eric Penney. Generally, the coaching staff will follow the “hot hand” between the pipes, so following the team’s victory in their last game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bold locking down the Seals offense in an encore of his 10 goals allowed against the Riptide.
Beyond the defense, the Warriors will need their offense to be clicking on all cylinders once more. Not surprisingly, when the Warriors have scored 14 goals or more, they are 3-0, including a win against the Seals last season in San Diego. In their impressive Week 3 win, the Warriors showed that their secondary scorers can fill up the scoresheet as well. If they can threaten the Seals defense with multiple zoned-in attackers, it will be hard for the Seals to figure the Warriors offense out.
It should be a fun, fierce showcase on Sunday afternoon. The season is still early, but this could be a signature win for either club. In the highly-competitive West Division, both teams are determined not to fall behind in the wild west.