Two games in three days, that was the case for the San Diego Seals who were facing off against a Warriors team which had a week off and were coming off a morale-boosting win over the expansion New York Riptide. The game presented a chance for the Warriors to launch themselves into playoff contention, as a win would have put them above the Calgary Roughnecks. The Seals on the other hand currently hold the division wooden spoon and a loss could put their season in jeopardy extremely early.
As mentioned in the 49 sports preview of the game, there were three Canadian university alumni who were on the rosters for the Sunday matinee, but only two took part. Matt Sykes was the lone CUFLA alum, as former Western Mustangs captain Mike Carnegie was a healthy scratch. Tyler Codron represented the rare U Sports contingent, suiting up for the Warriors, extending his iron man streak to 39 games, the most in his career.
It did not take very long at all for Sykes to make his presence felt in Vancouver. He was on the penalty kill for the Seals, a unit that did not give up a goal in the first quarter. Off of the special team, he was one of the most physical guys in the first, launching a barrage of hits which included a mid-floor collision with Warrior fan favourite Logan Schuss, drawing the ire of many in the crowd.
None of the Canadian university alumni were able to get on the scoresheet, but that’s not to say their presence was not felt. The physical force of Skykes was one thing, but Codron’s defensive awareness was another key element of the game. There was no moment where he was caught out of position, including landing a few good slashes onto the stick on Sykes.
The only boxscore stat that either made in the game were a pair of loose ball collected by Sykes in the second quarter, but the retrievals did not lead to Seals scoring chances. In only his third game of the season, Sykes is still settling into proffesional lacrosse, but he did not look out of place on Sunday.
Although there was light impact from the Canadian university players, former NCAA athletes with the University of Albany Connor Fields caused chaos for the Warriors defence. He scored his first career hat trick in the first half and added an assist in the second, capping off a wonderful start to his first full NLL campaign. While at Albany, he was named to the NCAA all-star team twice and he has brought those scoring skills into his professional career on the other side of the country.
“He’s a strong player, always a threat,” said Warriors head coach Chris Gill about the New york native, but also noted that his team has to defend him better.
Each of the 20 former collegiate athletes found themselves intertwined in a back and forth game, that found itself tied 8-8 after three quarters. Although there were many college alumni on the floor, it was the Warrior’s alternate captain Mitch Jones who took control of the home side’s offence with an eight-point (3G 5A) performance.
The game kept itself knotted and eventually waltzed its way into overtime. Both teams had opportunities in the extra frame, but it was Georgetown University alum Brodie Merril who would pot the game-winning goal thanks to a lucky bounce in the Seals defensive end.
San Diego is not set to play until hosting the Saskatchewan Rush in California on January 12th, so one would expect that veteran Mike Carnegie would find his way back into the Seal’s lineup for that one. The Warriors, on the other hand, will hit the turf a week earlier as they take on the Colorado Mammoth in the Mile High City, which includes a familiar name on the roster, as Mike Carnegie’s brother Scott dawns Mammoth maroon.