Photo by Cameron Sparling – Ultiphotos.com

The Seattle Rainmakers (3-2) played a hotter Vancouver Nighthawks (0-6), but the Nighthawks defense wasn’t up to the challenge of the Rainmakers, who won 21-15.

The Nighthawks were itching for a win against the Rainmakers, who had beaten them twice in a row in Seattle. With their hunger and a warm home team crowd in Vancouver, the Nighthawks gave the Rainmakers a good game, keeping the score within four points for the first half of the game and ending the third quarter with the Rainmakers up by only two points, 16-14. In the fourth quarter Seattle went on a four point run, putting Vancouver’s first win out of their reach. The Rainmakers defense really made the difference for this game, as both teams had the same number of scores that started on offense (14), but Seattle had seven break goals to Vancouver’s lonely one break.

The first quarter started out fairly even, with Seattle and Vancouver trading points to make it 1-1 and then 2-2. The Nighthawks showed their desire to win on the second goal, with Einer Lim getting a spectacular layout grab on a bad up the line throw which he threw to Taylor Nadon for the score. The Rainmakers scored on a hold, then got two break points to lead the Nighthawks 5-2. There were a lot of turnovers by both teams and some poor throws by Vancouver, and the first quarter ended with Seattle leading 6-4. Brad Houser got an assist and a goal, Steve Gussin got two assists, and Peter Ostergaard, the highest scoring player of the game, had two goals in the first quarter.

The Rainmakers widened their lead in the second quarter. In the first part of the second quarter the teams traded points again, each team only scoring on holds. Seattle kept their two point lead and the score was 9-7 at 6:05 in the quarter. Ostergaard threw to Khalif El-Salaam to bring the score to 10-7. In the next point Jonathan Masler got a great rolling block on Vancouver, and then the play turned sloppy, with another turn for Vancouver and Seattle. After a timeout for the Rainmakers they came back and had a nice score, Masler throwing the assist to El-Salaam. The Nighthawks looked to answer back, but a change in cutting direction by Victor Cheng led to a throw to no one for Vancouver and a turnover that Seattle used to their advantage, bringing the score to 12-7 after two break points in a row for Seattle. Vancouver scored one more goal before the end of the half to end it 12-8.

In the third quarter the Rainmakers struggled against the Nighthawks. Vancouver outscored Seattle for the only point of the game, getting six goals to Seattle’s four. The Houser-Ostergaard connection made for two of those goals. Seattle got a little tired in the third quarter. With ten players missing from the game, there weren’t many substitute players. The key defensive player Evan Klein was especially missed. The defense had the only quarter where they scored no break goals, and they let the Nighthawks get their only break point of the game. There was a very long point in the middle of the quarter that lasted over three minutes in which Seattle got intercepted and had multiple poor throws. After a timeout, Vancouver scored, and the game was back within two points at 16-14 at the end of the third quarter. Seattle tried for a buzzer beater but got denied by Vancouver’s defense. It looked like the Nighthawks might challenge the Rainmakers for the game if the momentum did not shift again.

After the third quarter break, the Rainmakers came out strong and scored four points in a row, running up the score and denying the Nighthawks a chance to win once and for all. Co-Head Coach Kate Kingery said playing hard in the fourth quarter was part of the Rainmakers plan. “One of our focuses going into the game was to play a strong fourth quarter, which is something we have struggled to do up to this point in the season. We plan to make it a part of our team identity to play strong in all four quarters, but especially in the fourth,” said Kingery viagra andorre. The Rainmakers defense only let the Nighthawks score one point in the fourth, and after Houser toed another one over the line the Rainmakers won 21-15. Houser thinks that the Rainmakers defense did great in the fourth. “Our defense was down in numbers, and I think the breaks defense got in the fourth quarter was a real testament of what we can do,” said Houser.

Ostergaard, Houser, and El-Salaam all did very well this game. Ostergaard led the scoring with five goals and one assist. Houser got four goals and three assists (two of which went to Ostergaard),  and he now is fifth in the league for goals with 14 total for the season. El-Salaam sprinkling his magic over the Rainmakers once again with two goals and six assists this game and a 100% completion rate for his throws. Steve Gussin also made a big contribution, getting four assists and one goal. Ostergaard attributes his play to, “a healthy serving of oatmeal in the morning and goalty.” He says that the Rainmakers have been gelling as a team. “Things have been clicking. Practice we’ve been able to really challenge each other,” says Ostergaard.

The biggest factor in the outcome of this game was that Vancouver was not able to convert breaks into scores. They only had one break point in the game, for a very low 5.6% defensive scoring efficiency (DSE) to Seattle’s 31.8% DSE. This brought down the Nighthawks total scoring efficiency (TSE) to 37.5%, almost fifteen points lower than the Rainmakers 51.2% TSE. The teams had the same number of hold scores, 14, so the point differential in the game was entirely the result of defensive scoring. Even missing Evan Klein, who led the Rainmakers with 12 goals and 7 blocks and was second in the league for break goals with eight, the Rainmakers still had better defensive capabilities than the Nighthawks. There were a lot of turnovers in this game, with 19 for Seattle and 25 for Vancouver. 

Kingery said that the Rainmakers and the Nighthawks worked on the Spirit of the Game over their three games. The first game was a little chippy, and Kingery wanted to change that. “We were especially impressed by the progression of improved spirit over the course of our three game series with Vancouver,” says Kingery. “We addressed the issue of spirit still being a part of the MLU in spirit circles after all three games. In the circle, representatives from both teams talked about the importance of respecting your teammates, opponents, and the refs and maintaining the Spirit of the Game which we all value and appreciate about ultimate even though the structure of the game in the MLU is different.”

The Rainmakers have a bye week next weekend, and will play the San Francisco Dogfish on Sunday, May 22nd at 1 pm at Renton Memorial Stadium. Buy tickets here

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