Seattle headed south early Saturday morning for their first game of the season against the San Francisco Dogfish. But bright skies and high hopes were dashed as Dogfish converted late in the game and ran down the clock to end the game at 18-16, dealing the Rainmakers their first loss of the 2014 season.
The first pull went up promptly after 2:00 p.m. with the Rainmakers starting on offense and everything going according to plan. O-line handler and 2013 Western Conference MVP Adam Simon served up a pretty huck and Donnie Clark brought it down in the end zone to make it 1-0. Following a Dogfish turnover, Sam Harkness extended the lead to two with the Rainmakers second point. San Francisco got on the scoreboard with a neat pass from 2013 Dogfish MVP Evan Boucher to receiver Mac Taylor.
With three goals scored between the teams in only a minute, the game had all the markers of an offensive pileup, but turnovers quickly became a factor. Hucks were carried far past receivers by gusting tailwinds, and in-cuts on upwind points were met too often by turfed throws.
But turnovers weren’t just generated by weather conditions; strong defensive play by Rainmakers rookie Henry Phan, whose hand block late in the first quarter gave the Rainmakers a chance to pull ahead, was also featured. By the end of the first quarter, the score was a tight 6-4 in favor of the Rainmakers.
Harkness, a D-line cutter, made his presence known throughout the first half, racking up D’s and converting several goals and assists. But the Dogfish defense was tenacious and the two teams traded points and turnovers before going to the locker room tied at 10-10 at the half.
The third quarter began with a Dogfish break, and the Rainmakers saw themselves in a hole. The Rainmakers fought back and establish a 15-13 lead midway through the quarter before San Francisco went on a three-point run. The quarter ended, with no small help from a Rainmakers turnover off a travel, with the Dogfish ahead by one, 16-15.
Adam Simon got big for a defensive sky over a Dogfish receiver and the Rainmakers were able to tie things back up at 16, but only two more points would be scored in the remaining six and a half minutes of play, both of them by San Francisco. On the final point of the game, the Rainmakers rallied to try to make a comeback, but Dogfish D-line cutter Sam Adamson shut the door with a big layout D. The home team was then able to run the clock out to secure an 18-16 victory.
“Our first loss in some serious wind is actually a great learning experience,” Harkness said. “This loss will go a long way into our season.”
Defense for both teams looked strong throughout the game, but offensively the Rainmakers will need to work on being a bit more patient. Wind was a factor, but the sheer number of catchable throws that were simply dropped by receivers will certainly be a topic of conversation on the plane ride home.
“All the credit goes to Safdie and the Dogfish for putting us in situations to throw turnovers,” said player-coach Mario O’Brien. “Their double teams were the difference maker. Their game plan worked. We dropped and turned the disc. Execution wins games. Everything else was equal. Take away away the 10-plus drops we had and it’s a different game. Credit to the Dogfish for being the better team today. “
The Rainmakers host the Dogfish at home next week for a rematch on Saturday evening. Tickets are available here.