West Division Playoffs
The 2016 AUDL West Division playoffs begin Saturday, July 16 at 7:30 pm when the Los Angeles Aviators host the Seattle Cascades at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
The Aviators (9-5) finished the season in third place in the West. After starting the season with a 1-3 record, Los Angeles ended the season with victories in eight of their last ten games, including the current six-game winning streak they put together to conclude the regular season. Seattle (9-5) took second place in the division by virtue of winning two of the three games in the season series against the Aviators, giving them the tiebreaker advantage over L.A. The Cascades got off to an equally slow start, winning their first game then losing three in a row to fall to 1-3. From there, they went on a seven-game winning streak, including their two victories over the Aviators, to reach 8-3 before losing two of their last three games.
In the first of the three meetings between the two teams, Seattle traveled to Los Angeles and handed the Aviators their third loss of the season. The game was close early, tied 9-9 halfway through the second quarter. Seattle took charge from there. They took a 19-12 lead in the third quarter before going on to win 26-17. In their second matchup four weeks later, Los Angeles went to Seattle and the game played out to a much different storyline. Seattle took an early lead this time, going up 10-4 in the second quarter. L.A. surged back, though, working their way to a 19-19 tie. The game stayed close from there. The Aviators scored to make it 26-26 with 21 seconds left. Seattle managed to find an open receiver for the game-winning goal as time expired to escape with a victory. For the final meeting between both teams, Los Angeles was squaring off in their second game of a two-day Northwest trip. After defeating the Vancouver Riptide in a tense, one-goal game on Saturday night, the Aviators had another slow start against the Cascades on Sunday afternoon. Seattle had leads of 5-1 and 7-4 in the first half. But again, the Aviators surged and took a 11-10 lead into halftime. Los Angeles continued the barrage in the second half, putting together five consecutive break points and building an 18-11 lead. The final score was 22-16.
Los Angeles will have to key in on some of the major talent Seattle will be fielding for the playoffs. Despite playing in just 11 of the their 14 games, Mark Burton totaled 40 goals, 60 assists, and a plus/minus of +80. Donnie Clark lead the team with 42 goals, contributed 21 assists, and was second with a +59. Danny Karlinsky played in just five games all season, but is always a producing threat on the field. Reid Koss is another playmaker, and Jesse Bolton has been making regular appearances on league highlight videos recently. According to their lineup, Seattle will not have Matt Rehder, Adam Simon, Tommy Li, and Sam Hart, which could be a formidable lineup all on its own. Additionally, per his contract which restricts him from playing against Los Angeles, former-Aviator Husayn Carnegie will also not suit up on Saturday.
Not that Los Angeles is without some star power of their own. Mark Elbogen joined the elite 40-40 Club, finishing the season with 49 goals and 46 assists. Eric Lissner had 44 assists of his own, to go with his 21 goals. Bryan Nguyen is one of the fastest players in the league, which allowed him to speed past defenses for 41 goals. Brent George always seems to be open, allowing him to post 34 goals. Jeff Silverman and Zachary Theodore patrol the defensive skies, recording 22 and 21 blocks, respectively. And captain Hunter Corbett had 18 blocks, 16 goals, and 22 assists, showing how he can contribute in all aspects of the game. The Aviators excel at getting production from the entire lineup, with 14 different players recording at least 10 assists during the season, 11 players scoring at least 10 goals, and 12 players averaging at least one defensive block every other game played. That kind of production will need to come in droves for Los Angeles to be successful this weekend.
The winner of Saturday’s contest will advance to a Sunday afternoon matchup against the first-place San Francisco FlameThrowers. First pull for that game is set for 2:00 pm. Both games over the weekend will be streamed live on ESPN3 and at AUDL.tv. Tickets are available for individual games or for the entire weekend.