Photo by Sandy Canetti – Ultiphotos.com
After missing the playoffs in 2014, the Rainmakers were ready to show they had what it takes in 2015. After a rough start, it remained to be seen if they Rainmakers could rally and become the west coast contenders that they were in 2013.
The season came out to a rough start with a devastating 12-21 loss against the Portland Stags. The Rainmakers were able to turn things around for their second game, but still came up short in the second annual “Border Bid” against the Vancouver Nighthawks.
Heading into Week 3, it became clear that if there was one thing that the Rainmakers could rally around, it was being the underdog.
Facing off against the San Francisco Dogfish (1-1), the Rainmakers had few expectations for them. Jumping out to a 6 – 1 lead, Seattle made it clear that this was a different team than in the previous weeks. While the Dogfish were able to make a comeback, the Rainmakers walked away with their first win of the season 20 – 17. Matt Neeley came away from the contest with SportsCenter Top 10 play.
With their first win in the bank, the Rainmakers were able to build that momentum into a 3-game winning streak, with wins over Vancouver and San Francisco. Sitting at 3-2 for the season, the Rainmakers were ready to take on the Stags again after their struggle in the season opener.
It was a battle from the beginning with both teams making a case for being the best in the west. In the end, the Stags were able to pull ahead to a 20-17 victory over the Rainmakers. While it was a loss, the Rainmakers looked at it as a stepping stone on their way through the conference.
“It’s a puzzle,” said Rainmaker veteran Mark Burton. “We’re putting together the pieces and getting closer and closer. We had opportunities this game, now we just have to take them.”
With their schedule more than half over, the Rainmakers still had lot of work to do to see the playoffs. The Rainmakers pulled off a close 28-27 victory in a high scoring game against the Nighthawks before they had to face the Stags again.
In the third matchup the Stags again took home the victory with a 20-18 final score.
Nearing the end of the season, the Rainmakers once again defeated the Dogfish on the road, clinching their playoff berth with a 29 – 21 victory. With the playoffs already in hand the Rainmakers played their final game at home against the Nighthawks.
In what turned out to be an exciting final few minutes the Nighthawks pulled ahead and delivered a 19-20 loss the Rainmakers, ending their season 5-5, but still with a spot in the playoffs and a date with the 9-1 Stags.
If the Rainmakers felt like the underdogs earlier in the season, it became even clearer as they got ready for the Western Conference Championship.
“I will have to admit and everybody knows that we are the underdog in this game and personally I love that. We love that,” said Burton. “There is no pressure for us. They are home, they won the Western Conference regular season, they won our head to heads, but that doesn’t matter to us. What matters is how we play together as a team. Seattle style frisbee.”
With that love for the game the Rainmakers came into the Western Conference Championship ready to upset the Stags.
In one of the most exciting games of the season, the Rainmakers controlled the game from start to finish. While the game had some hints of their previous meetings, the Stags were never able to lead. As the final minutes of the fourth quarter wound down it was clear that the Rainmakers had put in the work all season to get to this point and this was their final payoff, a 17-16 victory against the Stags in their most important game of the season.
With their ticket to the MLU Championship booked it was time for the west to finally test their mettle against the Eastern Conference Champions. The Western Conference was 0-2 in MLU Championships. The Boston Whitecaps, MLU’s winningest franchise and 2013 Champions, were ready for the Rainmakers, but were the Rainmakers ready for them?
The Championship quickly got out of hand for the Rainmakers, as early game mistakes added up and near flawless play from the Whitecaps kept them from clawing back into the game. With the Whitecaps proving too much and the game out of reach, the Rainmakers fell 17-31.
While it wasn’t the end of the season the Rainmakers were hoping for it was truly a special season for the team as they were able to make a turn around and prove that they were not only a team to watch in the west, but the team to win it.
Expect the Rainmakers to come back even stronger next season with a chip on their shoulder from the finals.