Photo by Jeff Bell – Ultiphotos.com
On a cool, rainy night in Vancouver, the Rainmakers let the Nighthawks get an early lead. The offensive line handlers got a shake up, with Daniel Trytiak and Gavin McKibben out for this game. Coach Kate Kingery attributed “some pre game jitters” to the change in personnel and the foul weather conditions. “The start of the first quarter [was] a little rocky,” said Kingery. The Nighthawks got three points in a row, helped by a number of drops on the Seattle side. The Rainmakers made some mental and tactical adjustments, and the first quarter ended with the Nighthawks up by one at 3-4. “Mentally, we simply adjusted and played on,” said Kingery. “We started playing in a vertical stack, but decided to switch to horizontal. It seemed like a better way to take advantage of our cutter’s athleticism and create easier short passes which are easier to complete in wet weather.” Evan Klein said that, “even at 0-3, our mental game was solid. The [Vancouver] fans may have thought they had a chance, but we never did! [We] trusted the team.”
In the second quarter the Rainmakers came back strong, scoring six points and only letting the Nighthawks score one goal. With just over one minute left to go in the first half, the midfield pull pinned Vancouver deep in their own end zone, and Henry Phan pulled in a callahan off the first throw. Coach Kingery said that the catch, “really fired everyone up.” The Rainmakers ended the first half at 9-5 and didn’t let the Nighthawks come close to tying it up again. “The energy from the team both on and off the field was very positive and despite the weather and the early deficit we had a blast!” said Kingery. “We were getting blocks, making exciting catches… We had fun and that’s why we play.”
In the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third quarter Seattle went on a seven point streak. There were some great blocks by Phan and Dylan Harrington. The Rainmakers outscored the Nighthawks in the third quarter 5 to 3, racking up the points to put the Hawks away. The quarter ended 14-8, thanks to some sweet Seattle scores, including back to back layout grabs by Brad Houser and Chris Rupp.
The Rainmakers didn’t let up in the fourth quarter. They scored six in the final quarter, with three of those goals scored by Houser, and kept the Nighthawks to three points and no breaks. Seattle’s strong defense and ability to score after the turn is their hallmark, and it won them this game as well. The Rainmakers had eleven breaks to the Nighthawks four, three of which were in the first three points of the game when the Rainmakers were still getting their bearings. Phan says that there were some players who stepped up to really make the win possible. “Well Tido Torpedo aka Peter Ostergaard really got to showcase his handling skills. Also, the new addition of [Daniel Walton] Peaches #32 was huge. He’s a veteran in a rookie’s uniform. Plus when it really comes down to it, we got Silky Steve Gussin. Honestly, the D-Line takes care of our O-Line, so it was pretty chill.”
Other factors in the outcome of the game include the weather and Vancouver’s poor judgement on throws. It was raining buckets at some points in the game, and the disc got very slippery as hands got colder, making for a lot of drops. The Nighthawks had significantly more turnovers than the Rainmakers did, at 26 to 19. Due to the large amount of turnovers and drops in the game, there were quite a few long points. Five points went over two minutes, with two of those going over three minutes. Vancouver may have felt pressured by Seattle’s defense, which had twelve blocks to Vancouver’s six in the game. The Nighthawks tried to huck it down the field for the score multiple times, but the Rainmakers had the height advantage with Klein (6’3”), Luke Jesperson (6’3”) and Drew Lockhart (6’4″). The tall guys kept Vancouver from making the quick scores on their long throws.
Houser had yet another great game, getting four goals and two assists. He is now the second highest in the league for goals and scoring (goals & assists), only trailing Stags Timmy Perston and Cody Bjorklund, respectively, for the top spot. Klein also had a good game with three goals, two assists, and a block. Robin Breen had two goals and one assist, while rookie Harrington had two goals and three blocks. In addition to his fabulous callahan, Phan had three assists and two blocks, while Rupp recorded a single goal and three nice blocks.
For their next game, the Rainmakers fly down to San Francisco to take on the Dogfish. The Portland Stags have already secured their place in the Western Conference Finals and the Nighthawks have been mathematically eliminated. The Rainmakers and the Dogfish vie for the chance to play the Stags in this important game. Seattle now has a 5-2 record, while San Francisco has only one win and five losses. San Francisco could make it to the finals if they win their next four games and if Seattle loses their next three games. If Seattle wins any one of their three remaining games they will have at least six wins, making their record better than San Francisco’s best possible 5-5, and Seattle will advance to the playoffs. The next two games between the Rainmakers and the Dogfish will determine who gets to play against the Stags for the division title this year, and it is sure to be tense at Yellowjacket Stadium next Saturday.