Aviators Look to Bounce Back Against San Jose After Another Northwest Heartbreak
Heading into Saturday’s action, the Los Angeles Aviators (2-4) and San Jose Spiders (2-5) find themselves in similar situations for the 2016 season but with very different momentum after last week.
Los Angeles traveled to Seattle last Saturday night, putting together a second-consecutive stellar performance, this time against one of the league’s best. Despite falling behind early by margins of 8-3, 10-4, and 11-5, the Aviators fought back like they’d only ever done once previously. Last season, Los Angeles fell behind 7-0 to start a game against the Spiders, but won the second, third and fourth quarters to bring the game back to a 20-20 tie before falling one point short in the end. This time, they managed to get the halftime deficit down to two, at 13-11. They fell behind 17-13 early in the third quarter, but used a defensive flurry to surge all the way to a 19-18 lead. The quarter ended in a 19-19 tie, but Los Angeles quickly grabbed a 21-19 advantage in the fourth. The teams traded points mostly evenly until Seattle gained back the lead at 25-24. With 21 seconds left in the game, the Aviators scored to tie it at 26 and give the Cascades the last possession. After calmly working the disc up the field, Seattle found an opening in the end zone. A huge forehand blade crossed the width of the field to fall into the waiting arms of a cutter for the game-winning goal as time expired. That particular feeling is not new for the Aviators, particularly in the northwest. Last season, an end-game blunder allowed the Vancouver Riptide to launch a similar buzzer-beating throw. The catch merely tied that game, but Vancouver had gathered all the momentum by then and ran away with the overtime. Los Angeles was equally crushed this time, squandering an opportunity to upset a top-5 team in the AUDL and championship contender.
San Jose, on the other hand, battled those very Vancouver Riptide in sweltering heat at home. But they managed a 27-17 victory for their second win of the season. For the two-time defending AUDL champions, a 2-5 record and 5th place in the division are well below what they are used to. However, they have lost a majority of the players who played the most significant roles on those championship teams. This has been a rebuilding year, and they are stumbling through the process that most teams would struggle with in a similar situation.
This will be the first of two meetings between the teams. The second will be next week in San Jose. Los Angeles will field all of its similar faces, minus offensive line handler Eli Friedman and defensive stopper Simon Evans. The Aviators will need to focus on limiting San Jose’s Sean Ham (33 goals), Kelly Van Arsdale (18 goals, 19 assists), Jackson Stearns (17 goals, 15 assists) and Steven Chang (12 assists, former Aviator) in order to be successful. Additionally, Josiah Mort (active) and Evan Brydon (unknown) are wild cards because they spent the 2015 club season playing with many current Aviators on the Santa Barbara Condors and know those players well.
This game will feature one of the biggest promotions the Aviators have done to date. All fans are encouraged to wear as much black as possible in an effort to promote #StealthMode. The Aviators will be unveiling sleek new jerseys that are anticipated to be very popular and sell quickly.
10% of all merchandise sales will go to
First pull in Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College is set for 7:30 pm. Tickets are available online or at the box office.
by Jacob Baumer
Aviators Beat Writer & Correspondent