A Joyful Jones, But Warriors lose 5th

 

2019-01-19 Vancouver- Home has not been so sweet for the Warriors so far this season, well really nowhere has been and that struggle continued with an 11-1 loss to San Diego on Saturday night. The re-branded Vancouver team has sputtered to a 1-5 start to the season, and is winless in their new downtown home. Saturday  presented a tantalizing prospect for the Warriors as they welcomed the expansion San Diego Seals to Rogers Arena for a showdown, which was promoted as “90’s night.” Throughout the night there were throwbacks to the 90’s, none of which were able to help propel the Warriors to two points. Vancouver entered  the game following a disappointing yet hardworking 14-10 loss to 2018 NLL champions Saskatchewan rush, while San Diego came into the night playing their second game in as many days.

Warriors  forward Jordan McCbride has found himself as a new man recently, after spending three years outside the NLL; the New Westminster native has put up hat tricks in his last two games, cementing himself firmly in the discussion for the league comeback player of the year award. Another interesting piece heading into Saturday’s matchup was the goaltending choice for Vancouver. Eric Penney put in an outstanding performance in relief last weekend, although Aaron Bold was brought in to be the starter. In the end, coach Gill kept with Bold to start the game. For the Seals, Saturday was all about continuing momentum after winning their home opener on Friday night against Rochester.

The game started quick for the Warriors, who 20 seconds in found Justin Salt  on a breakaway and slid the ball through the legs of San Diego netminder for his first goal of the season.  The quick start was a rarity for Vancouver, who have failed to settle into games early in the past. The Warriors started the game with a lot of pace, hoping to wear down a Seals team who had spent the day traveling. However, the fast forchecking style proved costly as the Warriors gave up two goals in fast fashion on the counter attack. It was yet another shaky start for Aaron Bold, who let in two of his first three shots; although he did settle in after the unnerving beginning.

Vancouver’s 9th ranked powerplay  had three opportunities in hopes of tying the game, but failed to breakthrough a strong defensive box set up from the Seals. The first half finished with a flurry of action for the Warriors attack, as they crawled back to within one goal; only trailing 4-3 at the end of the quarter. One of those late goals came from aforementioned McBride who extended his scoring streak to three games.

Neither team was able to put up much in the way of offense  in the second quarter, as the goaltenders stole the show. Frank Scigliano was particularly prominent for San Diego, making an abundance of acrobatic saves throughout the frame. If not for him, it is very likely the Warriors could have had the lead. The Seal’s offense was nowhere near as dominant as Vancouver’s, but the leaky play of Aaron Bold and loose defending of the Warriors gave the Californians the upper hand. One of the more memorable takeaways for the Rogers Arena crowd also took place in the second quarter, as for the first time Vancouver’s lacrosse fans witnessed a full on fist fight; this one between Warriors captain Matt Beers and San Diego’s Brodie Merril.  For Beer’s, the fight came in an effort to spark his teams offense, an effort which failed to provide any results. At the end of the half the Warriors defense proved to be their demise as they trailed by three, despite putting in one of the most complete halfs of lacrosse thus far this season. The

The first half will inevitably be remembered for the outstanding goaltending from Scigliano, and the inaugural downtown rumble between Beers and Merrill, although will certainly not be remembered as fondly as the 90’s were; especially for Warriors fans. What the first half did show, is that the Warriors have fight; and with this, for the nearly 7’000 fans in attendance were more attached to the action than ever.

After a slow start to the second half, you’d expect some fans to be nearing the end of their patience with the Warriors constantly trailing. 10 minutes into the frame Mitch Jones was there to change up this problem, completing his hat trick and dragging everyone to their seats. The Warriors tied the game up 7-7 with five minutes remaining in the third; bringing them one step closer to their first home victory. Jones was all the buzz throughout the quarter, scoring two goals in the half. It was the exact spark the Warriors needed, to see one of their leaders taking the reigns and driving the offense himself. While Vancouver held a two goal lead at one point, their largest at home this season,  they ended the third leading by a lone tally. It was the first time this season in which the Warriors held a lead at the end of a quarter and the Rogers Arena fans were more ecstatic than ever with the home team finally showing some promise, although the bowl was not nearly full; the attraction and attention paid to the game was significantly greater than in the past.

 

As expected, the Seals came out determined in the fourth and final quarter; quickly stepping on the gas and putting two goals past Bold to re-take the lead 10-9 over the home side. With 10 minutes remaining, the crowd was intense as ever as they tried their best to push the home town Warriors to the win. In spite of the fans, and players best efforts; San Diego was able to put up a pair of insurance goals to lead 11-9 with two minutes remaining. A last minute push from the Warriors brought them to within one, and a ball off the post with five seconds left nearly tied it up, however neither was enough, for one goal was as close as they would get their first home win of the season.

 

Again for Vancouver, it was goaltending and early mistakes which ended up costing them.

“We have to have a better first five minutes, we have to be more focused, more dialed in.” Said Warriors head coach Chris Gill following the loss. 

he went on to add, “It seems that we conceded early before getting dialed in and that’s what’s holding us back from these close wins.”

If the game was played only in the second half, I am sure that the Warriors would have more than their single win on the season. The team has conceded early and often and has had a problem settling into the games; late game pushes can’t propel you to wins if you’re digging yourself a hole early in the day. In the end, the Warriors only finished with three shots less than the Seals; however their dodgy start cost them the game.

Vancouver will again play at Rogers Arena this coming weekend, as they welcome to town the also struggling Colorado Mammoth. Coach Gill will undoubtly be wanting a strong start from his team, as the Warriors are presented with yet another juicy opportunity to get their first home win.

 

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