Seals rally to score in final seconds, win 10-9

Credit: San Diego Seals

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Credit: Josh Jimenez/ EVT Sports

The San Diego Seals pulled off an incredible comeback in dramatic fashion to win 10-9 against the Saskatchewan Rush.

The team came back from down 9-4, as Jeremy Noble’s rebound goal with 1.3 seconds left in the match finished off a fantastic win for the Seals. San Diego now finds itself atop the Western Conference by a game and a half.

The Seals trailed 5-1 after the first period and then fell behind by five after Robert Church scored just over a minute into the second half. The Seals, who’d allowed nine goals in just over a half, didn’t surrender a goal for the final 28:51 of the game on Friday. The team found just enough offense to complete the comeback. Wesley Berg put together a hat trick and had the shot that turned into the assist on Noble’s game-winner. Dane Dobbie had four huge assists for the Seals as well. The win showed absolutely everything that the Seals were made of, resilience, toughness, and pure passion.

While not the case in the second half, the Seals just couldn’t stop the rampant Rush in the first quarter, who scored five times from four different players.

Jeff Shattler found the back of the net twice, on his way to a four-goal performance. Mark Matthews, who came into the game 12th in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) in points, added another by starting off the scoring, before Shattler doubled the advantage with his first of the night two minutes later. Seals defenseman Cam Holding pulled a goal back on a deftly executed counterattack with fellow defensemen Tor Reinholdt, but the Seals weren’t able to turn their first goal into any long-lasting momentum. Shattler restored the lead to two goals less than a minute later, before assisting as Dan Litner made it 4-1. The Seals did manage to catch a break as Shattler appeared to have scored his third of the night, but it was ruled out as he had not re-established himself outside of the crease.

Things quickly turned from bad to worse for the Seals. The Seals were given a shot clock violation in the closing seconds of the first quarter, and Sasckatchawan player Jeff Cornwall slotted the ball past Seals goalie Frank Scigliano with under a second left in the first quarter, making it a four goal lead for the Rush.

Credit: SD Seals

The second quarter was much more even, but also much less clean. The Seals struck first, as Dane Dobbie scored while the Seals found themselves on the power play, before the referees had to briefly stop play for physicality between the teams. No penalties were handed out. Matthews’ second goal of the night for the Rush made it 6-2, but the Seals quickly struck back on yet another power play. Casey Jackson scored from behind the net in a stellar diving play, before Wesley Berg scored his first goal of the night to bring the Seals within two.

However, Tor Reinholdt found himself in the penalty box for five minutes due to roughing, and the Rush took full advantage, as Jeff Shattler scored twice more, both of which came off the power play from Reinholdt’s penalty. In the NLL, five-minute penalties are not cleared when goals are scored, while two minute minors are. The second half started in the same way, as Wesley Berg found himself in the penalty box for cross-checking under a minute into the half. Robert Church expanded the lead to five on the resulting power play. 

However, from that point, it was as if a switch had been flipped, and the Seals absolutely dominated the rest of the game.

They outscored the Rush 6-0, and five of the six goals came while the teams were at even strength. Berg scored his second goal of the night from long range, and rookie Mac O’Keefe brought the Seals within three to close out the third quarter, giving the Seals the glimmer of hope that they needed. An early Saskatchewan penalty for holding quickly turned into another Seals goal, as another rookie, Tre Leclaire brought the Seals within two on the closing seconds of the power play. Berg completed his hat trick on a shot that went in off the Rush’s goalie, Eric Penney’s back, which sent the crowd on the verge of explosion, before Zack Greer found the well-deserved equalizer to absolutely blow the roof off of Pechanga Arena with just a minute and twenty seconds to play. 

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The Seals won the next face off, which gave them the first shot at breaking the deadlock, but Dobbie’s shot was saved, and the Rush called timeout with 38 seconds left, and in possesion of the ball. The eight second difference between the shot and game clock meant that the Seals were guaranteed a final chance with the ball, and after Scigliano produced a stop, Seals coach Patrick Merrill immediately called timeout. With a little over nine seconds left, Berg brought the ball up, and shot, and while Penney did manage the save, the ball fell to Jeremy Noble, who secured the dramatic win with under a second and a half to go, sending the crowd into a frenzy again.

The Seals will host the Colorado Mammoth next week on March 19, in a critical matchup for the Western Conference. The Mammoth currently occupy second place in the conference. 

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