Photo by John King – Ultiphotos.com
The day started off squally, but the weather cleared up before the rivals took the field in at Milwaukie High School Turf Field, right outside Portland. The Rainmakers started off keeping pace against the Stags in the first quarter. Seattle scored five goals to the Stags seven, leaving the Rainmakers only a couple of break points behind at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Stags adjusted their defense, however. Portland’s strong defense only let Seattle score one point in the second quarter. The four break points for the Stags let them pull away from the Rainmakers, ending the first half with a score of 12-6. “We did a great job of racking up points in the first quarter,” said Coach Kate Kingery. “Portland did a good job of adjusting their D to slow down our O by poaching off of the handlers and forcing straight up to make the deep shots more challenging. We did not adjust as well as we would have liked.”
It was smooth sailing from there for the Stags, as they crushed the Rainmakers. The Rainmakers experimented with a zone defense against the Stags. Coach Kingery said, “We threw a zone in the interest of slowing down their offense and forcing turns. It worked some of the time.” Newest Rainmaker Daniel Walton said, “I think we were trying out some things, and I think we were doing a lot of thinking out there, and that meant we forgot to bring the intensity. We weren’t playing quite up to our highest level in terms of execution or intensity.” In the third and fourth quarters the Rainmakers scored two points per quarter, while the Stags continued to score. It was a victory for the Stags with 20-10 for the final score.
The Rainmakers only brought 18 players to Milwaukie Stadium on Saturday, and it showed. Clay Dewey-Valentine said, “We’ve been plagued by injuries and unforeseen circumstances. So we go from having a roster of 30 to a roster of 18.” He did see an upside from a player’s perspective, though. “It’s hard, but it’s also fun to play a lot.” The Rainmakers were missing key players unexpectedly, including defensive handler Henry Phan, offensive handlers Daniel Trytiak and Jonathan Masler, and defensive hybrid Matthew Neeley. Along with other inactive and injured players, the Rainmakers lines were very short, especially on defense, while the Stags kept putting out fresh legs. The Rainmakers never started up their defensive scoring machine, getting zero break points this game. The Offensive Scoring Efficiency (OSE), or percentage a team scored when they began on offense, was a whopping 91.7% for the Stags, showing that the Rainmakers did not slow them down. Another illuminating statistic is the number of turnovers; Seattle had 26 to Portland’s 14 this game.
Clay Dewey-Valentine said that he was, “incredibly disappointed in the result, but I thought our attitude was in a really good place.” The Rainmakers were still trying in the second half, even if they weren’t succeeding at scoring. A small group of players were integral to the goals Seattle got this game. Peter Ostergaard caught it in the endzone three times, while Brad Houser had two goals, two assists, and a block. Robin Breen had two goals and one assist, while Evan Klein had one goal, one assist, and three blocks. Handler Dewey-Valentine had two goals, one assist, and one block. Cutter Issac Entz had two assists, while Cam Bailey, Steve Gussin, and Eddie Feeley all had one assist.
The Rainmakers were trying out some new approaches this game. Coach Kingery said, “We went into this [game] realizing that we could use it to experiment, gather data and decide what strategies to use next week. … I look forward to watching the game film, analyzing everything that we tried and nailing down the best way to beat the stags next weekend!” Walton said that he expects the next game against the Stags to go down differently. “I don’t think we came into this game with the fire that will come into next game. We’ll have a bunch of players back from injury, which will be key. A lot of our defensive players will be back. We only had 18 guys on our roster today, and it looked like we were a little fatigued out there. Next week we’ll come out strong.” This loss to the Stags could give the Rainmakers the hunger they need to win next Saturday when they meet the Stags in Portland for the Western Conference Championship.