On the last game of the 2014 Season, the Seattle Rainmakers fell short to the Portland Stags 13-12 in Eugene, Oregon. Down 8-4 at half, Seattle put together a huge comeback but could not pull out the win.
With 1:51 left in the game, Seattle was receiving the disc and looking to tie the game and force a break to win. But a miscued Seattle huck turned the disc back over to the Stags. After a timeout, the Stags burned what was left of the clock, with Jeremy Norden and Breeze Strout content to playing keep away in their own end zone. Seattle could not force a turnover before time expired.
Portland amassed a huge lead in the first half thanks to execution errors from the Seattle squad. The Rainmakers received the disc and after a four-minute marathon point with six turnovers, Seattle punched in the score with a huck from Jimmy Chu that hung over the end zone. Henry Phan stepped up with a huge play in the air, getting the better of his much taller defender. Seattle converted a break on the next point thanks to a drop by Portland’s Camden Allison-Hall. The D-line scored on a Rory Gallagher reception from Eddie Feeley to grab a 2-0 lead.
Portland scored after two turnovers with Breeze Strout earning the assist to Tyler Cable. The Stags broke their next point to tie the game, with Raphy Hayes earning the turnover and Cody Bjorklund hitting Steve Kenton for the score. Portland then went on a run, stringing together six consecutive scores to take a 6-2 lead. Rainmakers Coach Steve Gussin attributed Seattle’s lapse to execution errors.
“That first half we did not come out and do the things we said we were going to do. We had game plans in terms of the decision we were going to make with the disc and what we were going to take away defensively,” said Gussin.
Seattle finally stopped the bleeding with a Bryson Uhrig-Fox goal from Feeley. But another Portland break would see the Stags on top 8-3. In a bizarre play, Seattle received the disc with 16 seconds left in the first half and scored with a buzzer-beating scoober from Khalif El-Salaam to Gavin McKibben.
The Rainmakers came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, no doubt determined to win their last game for pride. Coach Gussin had made clear that they could play better than their first two quarters.
“I laid into them a little bit at halftime because we were not executing,” said Gussin. “To their credit, they came out and absolutely competed. It was night and day.”
Seattle held the first point and then scored two breaks to pull within one. Seattle’s star player El-Salaam scored two of the three goals. Portland responded with a Bjorklund point from Strout. Seattle remained neck and neck, scoring in 30 seconds with a pass from El-Salaam to Elliot Trotter. After a Max Barowski defensive play on the next point, Trotter returned the favor to El-Salaam to seal the break and tie the game at nine. But Portland managed to score in just 15 seconds, beating the buzzer and also receiving the disc in the fourth quarter. The Stags held again to grab a quick two-point lead. A break put Portland up 12-9, and despite a series of breaks by the Rainmakers, time simply ran out.
“I was super proud of those guys. This game doesn’t mean anything in terms of standings,” said Gussin “It would have been fun to win, but what I cared about most was us coming out and competing.”
El-Salaam was instrumental in Seattle’s offense, earning eight points on six goals and two assists. The next highest point total was Trotter with 3 points on a goal and two assists.
Bjorklund was his usual self for the Stags with two goals and two assists. The towering Peter Woodside netted four goals.
Seattle’s season is over while the Stags will advance to the Western Conference finals to host the Vancouver Nighthawks on June 28 at Lincoln High School in Portland.