The Seattle Rainmakers (4-5) lost 17-16 to the Portland Stags (7-1) in yet another close match at Renton Memorial Stadium.
Down 17-16 with less than twenty seconds on the clock, Seattle was looking to force a turn and tie the game. The Rainmakers got their chance when Sam Harkness intercepted an up-line pass from Cody Bjorklund, and the Rainmakers moved the disc across the field and up the opposite line. With three seconds left, Khalif El-Salaam caught a long pass only ten yards in front of the end zone. He rushed the go ahead pass and receiver Todd Sliva slipped on the wet turf. The disc hit the ground as time expired.
“I know that he was real frustrated at the end of that game, he took that last throw really hard. But without his leadership downfield I don’t think we’re within two or three breaks,” said Head Coach Steve Gussin. “Khalif was unguardable tonight. He had every under we wanted. That was a big part of what we wanted him to do coming into this game. We wanted him to get out and grind in the lanes and he did a fantastic job of taking over downfield.”
The universe point was set up by a previous Portland break. After pulling to the Rainmakers, Portland forced a turnover with a Peter Woodside layout block, preventing a surefire Seattle score that would have tied the game. After working the disc down the field, Portland’s Raphy Hayes found Grant Cole in the end zone to seal the break that would prove to be the difference.
“I thought we played well,” said Gussin. “I thought that first half especially we executed our game plan and created a lot of positive situations but luck didn’t go our way.”
At the start of the game Seattle won the toss and elected to choose field position while Portland picked offense. The Rainmakers defensive line was able to force lots of dump throws on the first possession with tight defense on the cutters. After a minute of patient swinging, Portland scored on the back of Mark Burton with Ben Lohre earning the assist. The Stags defense then came out swinging, with a defensive play by Topher Davis. Portland converted the break to take a 2-0 lead with a Raphy Hayes scoring pass to Aaron Adamson.
Seattle’s offense regrouped and held the next point after a series of turnovers. Sam Harkness earned the goal after initiating a give and go with Danny Trytiak to take the game to 2-1. The two teams would trade points until the Rainmakers earned back a break after the end of the quarter when Todd Sliva made a layout defensive bid. Ben Beehner laced a bullet of a throw between Portland defenders and Rory Gallagher made a diving catch for the score.
The offensive holds would continue until a 7-6 lead for Seattle at half, but Portland would regain the lead after a drop by Danny Trytiak. Portland’s offense was unbreakable in the second half, behind excellent play by Camden Allison-Hall who was a matchup problem all night. At one stretch, Allison-Hall recorded points on four-consecutive offensive possessions. He ended the night with four goals and one assist. Ben Lohre, Jeremy Norden and Eli Friedman also earned five points apiece. The quartet accounted for 58% of Portland’s offense.
Elliot Trotter followed El-Salaam with two goals and three assists while Reid Koss distributed the disc with four assists.
Portland will travel to face Vancouver at 6 p.m. PT tomorrow for their second leg of a double-header weekend. Seattle will travel to Eugene, Oregon for a rematch against the Stags next Saturday, June 21 at 6:00 p.m. PT.