SEALS SUMMARIZED: Volume 1
If there were any doubts about the National Lacrosse League (NLL), or the sport of Lacrosse succeeding in San Diego, the first two home games for the San Diego Seals prove otherwise. A total of 18,606 fans attended the team's first two home games, including a crowd of 11,323 for the team's home opener on January 12th.
The new sports fan base has ranged from die-hard Lacrosse fans, casual fans, Local lacrosse club teams, and High School teams have wandered the concourse queued up for merchandise, $3 Latitude 33 Blood Orange IPA's, advanced tickets to the team's next home games and chances to win team signed attire at the team's ticket booth.
While the fan support has been excellent to start to the team's early start at home, the team's play at home is off to an awesome start as well. In this edition of SEALS SUMMARIZED, you'll get a first-hand account and recap of the team's start to the season and the first two home games played in San Diego.
The Seals got off to a 1-2 start to the inaugural season after playing their first three games on the road. The Seals won their inaugural game in franchise history on December 22nd, a 17-12 triumph over the Colorado Mammoth at Pepsi Center. Garrett McIntosh scored the first goal in franchise history. After the team's victory in Denver, San Diego struggled on the back end of their road trip with losses to both the Calgary Roughnecks 9-5 at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 28th and a 16-12 setback against the defending NLL champions, the Saskatchewan Rush at SaskTel Centre on January 5th.
The team would finally lift the curtain on their home opener on January 12th as they would face the Rochester Knighthawks. A crowd of 11,323 was on hand as the pregame pageantry included a posse of lowriders making their way out on to the field, the first dance routine for the Sirens Dancers and the debut of Salty the mascot. Seals president Steve Govett gave a pregame salute and address to the San Diego faithful as did team owner Joe Tsai via a pre-recorded video that was played on the video board.
A hype video narrated by hometown hero Bill Walton built the anticipation up to the Seals introductions. The video is highlighted by the players literally surfacing from the ocean waters and storming the San Diego beach with a player sticking his stick into the sand. One by one, the players were introduced through a duo of flamethrowers and clouds of fog that rose to the roof of the arena. Following the singing of the National Anthem, NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz dropped the ceremonial first ball with the team captains of both teams taking part in the festivities. After all the anticipation and build up, it was finally time to play.
Adrian Sorichetti would bring the home fans to their feet after his breakaway goal on a beautiful assist from goaltender Frank Scigliano in transition to light the lamp to give San Diego a 1-0 lead. The back and forth contest would see the game tied a 3-3 after the first quarter of play, tied at 6-6 at Halftime and tied at 8-8 after the third quarter. In a game where the Seals were running out of gas, it was the fans that carried the team through the fourth quarter of play.
After Dan Dawson scored with 5:54 left in regulation to give the Seals an 11-10 lead, the crowd in the last row of Terrace Level 1 went bananas as they were jumping up and down, high fiving, hugging and spraying what was left of their $3 Latitude 33 IPA's on each other. Austin Staats, the team's first ever Entry Draft selection would add an insurance goal that gave San Diego a 12-10 lead. Staats celebrated the goal by grabbing his jersey as he celebrated on the glass with his teammates.
When asked about his celebration, he said: "I grabbed the Seal on the front of my jersey in the fourth quarter to show the fans how much I respected them and enjoyed their presence. It was pretty cool, and it was the loudest arena that I have been to so far.”
As the final minutes and seconds winded off the clock, the energetic crowd rose to its feet as one loud voice as they would be rewarded for their energy all game long as the Seals would ensure the 12-10 victory before the ruckus crowd at Pechanga Arena San Diego, their first home win in club history.
In a display of appreciation, the team encouraged the fans who helped carry the team to the finish line down on to the field for a postgame autograph session with the team. And when I say the team, I mean the whole team, not just the guys who suited up and played, but the players who didn't play put on their jerseys and signed autographs and took photos with the fans.
Dan Dawson, the man who put San Diego ahead 11-10 has played in the NLL since 2002 in Columbus, Arizona, Portland, Boston, Philadelphia and most recently in Rochester. He talked about being apart of a new franchise just starting out from square one.
"I said it from the get-go, to be a part of something from the foundation up is really special and we had a really emotional special day and it carried on to the game.”
Dawson elaborated about the team's emotional day as they heard from members of the U.S. Navy SEALs, one the reasons as to why the franchise has the namesake. "We had a really emotional special day getting to hear some stories from some Navy Seals and more about what this emblem means. Togetherness, embracing the moment, adversity and the brotherhood. That's what it’s all about, is playing for something greater than yourselves and that's what we pride ourselves on in our dressing room."
It wouldn't be too long before the Seals would get the chance to play in front of the home crowd again. Just six days after the grand opening, San Diego would host the Calgary Roughnecks on January 18th. A crowd of 7,283 would once again have their voices heard in a huge way, even one fan far down below from my vantage point on Press Row did not sit down at all during the game and did his part to rile up the crowd on the Terrace Level all game.
While the crowd did their part, the Seals offense did their part to send the fans home happy as San Diego used a third-quarter goal barrage along with undisciplined play in the fourth quarter by the Calgary Roughnecks proved to be the turning point in San Diego's 15-9 victory.
You could feel that the blood was boiling throughout the fourth quarter between the Western Division opponents as the San Diego faithful got its first taste of NLL roughhousing. It would be Cam Holding and Dane Dobbie taking part in a few extracurricular activities following a whistle that brought the crowd to its feet. Both players threw their sticks aside, but no punches were thrown, just a few hard shoves. The scuffle would only make the crowd volume increase as the players were escorted to their respective penalty boxes.
Much like the conclusion of the home opener, the team once again welcomed the fans down to the field for autographs and photos with the players and the Sirens Dancers.
The victory over Calgary had some special meaning for Seals goaltender Frank Scigliano, who was a member of the Roughnecks before being taken by San Diego in the Expansion Draft. “It’s always fun when you’re winning, We battled for 60 minutes. We talked about the plan beforehand, stuck to the process and it paid off for us tonight. The little things add up, and that run in the third was huge for us. It was a lot of hard work between two teams. I wanted to beat them.”
The Seals would polish off a weekend divisional sweep by holding off the Vancouver Warriors for an 11-10 victory at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on January 19th. The Seals are now winners of three straight games as they improve to 4-2 on the season and climbed back to .500 on the road at 2-2.
The Seals will be back in action and at home for their only home game next month on February 8th when they host the Vancouver Warriors at 7pm from Pechanga Arena San Diego.