Photo by Brian Chu – Ultiphotos.com
The Rainmakers defeated the Nighthawks for the second time this season, bring them back to .500 on the season.
The Seattle Rainmakers (2-2) started out strong against the Vancouver Nighthawks (0-5) but lost momentum in the second half. The Nighthawks did better in the second half than they have all season, but couldn’t make up the point differential and lost to the Rainmakers 28-18.
The game started with the Rainmakers and the Nighthawks trading points. Seattle got the first point of the game, a break following a long first point. Vancouver brought the score to 1-1, then the teams brought it to 2-2, before Seattle when on a short run. Christian Brink threw a cross-field huck to Brad Houser for a goal, before Matt Neeley recorded a block and was found in the end zone by Henry Phan for a bookends score. With one more Nighthawks goal, the score was 5-3. The Rainmakers went on another run, scoring five goals in a row. Luke Jesperson had a monster Callahan, intercepting a Nighthawks disc in the end zone, and Robin Breen toed in another goal. The Nighthawks scored one buzzer-beating point to bring the score to 9-5 at the end of the first quarter.
In the first quarter it was easy to see that the Nighthawks are a young team who haven’t played together enough, as they had poorly timed cuts in the end zone that either had a bunch of players all cutting at the same time or no one open. The Rainmakers defense really dominated this quarter as well, helping the Rainmakers to score five break points while the Nighthawks got no breaks.
In the first half of the second quarter the Rainmakers scored four points in a row. There were some long points in the second quarter. There were throws by both teams that were poor decisions, either thrown to no one or throws that were easily intercepted by the other team. Vancouver scored two points in a row, their only points this quarter, to bring the score to 13-6. Mitchell Dozzi-Daigle of the Nighthawks was involved in both of those points, getting a block on the Rainmakers before throwing the assist to Jasper Lu for the score and catching it in the end zone himself with a throw from the backbone of the Nighthawks, Graeme Barber. Seattle scored three more points to end the half 16-6, including a nice block from Eddie Feeley after a mid-field pull from Vancouver that he turned into an assist with a swing to handler Eddie Harmoush for a quick score.
After halftime, the Nighthawks came out stronger and the Rainmakers seemed to sag a little bit. Vancouver scored six points in the third quarter, while Seattle barely outpaced them with seven points. The Nighthawks seemed to click, scoring twice with throws from Barber to Dozzi-Daigle and scoring with Erik Hunter and Gyorgy Aponte assisting each other for one goal each. The Nighthawks were behind by too many points to make up the deficit, so even though they played well in the second quarter they were still behind 23-12 at the end of the third quarter. On the Rainmakers side, Evan Klein had a good quarter with two assists to Jonny Stacey and Cam Bailey, while Peter Ostergaard scored one goal from Steve Gussin and had two assists to Clay Dewey-Valentine and Houser.
In the fourth quarter the Nighthawks outscored the Rainmakers six to five, and had more breaks with four compared to the Rainmakers three. Vancouver’s Michael LeRoss had a good quarter with two goals and one assist, and Aponte and Hunter also got one goal and one assist each. The Nighthawks defense was working harder in the fourth quarter, pressuring Seattle into making poor choices and contesting the Rainmakers trying to score. Ben Beehner scored two goals in the fourth. The final score was 28-18, but could have been even more definitive if Seattle’s mental game hadn’t faltered.
Taking a closer look at the stats, one good indicator of weather a team’s offense is doing well isOffensive Scoring Efficiency (OSE), or the percentage of time a team scores during a point they began on offense. The Nighthawks OSE was 36.7% this game, and they have the lowest OSE in the MLU this season. It is hard for a team to win when they score less than half the time they start on O. The Rainmakers, in contrast, had a good 60% OSE for this game and a 57.1% OSE for the season, second in the West. Defensive Scoring Efficiency (DSE) is a similar statistic that counts the percentage of time a team scores when they start on defense. Seattle’s DSE was 53.3% this game, much higher than Vancouver’s 35%. This statistic is much improved from the Nighthawks previous DSE of 17% for the season before this game, however, showing how much they improved in this game and especially in the second half of this game.
The Rainmakers have gotten back up to a .500 record now, winning two games against the Nighthawks after losing their first two games against the undefeated Portland Stags. The Nighthawks are still looking for their first win. They are the only winless team in the MLU, coming in last in the standings with their 0-5 record. Both teams had key young talents missing from their rosters because of the USAU College Regionals tournament this weekend. The Nighthawks were also in an energy disadvantage coming into the game, as they had played a difficult game against the Portland Stags the day before while the Rainmakers were fresh. The Rainmakers and Nighthawks will meet again next week on the Nighthawks home turf in Vancouver, with a fully rested Nighthawks squad and a full roster for both teams.
Many of the Rainmakers agreed that Seattle’s mental game hampered them in the second half of the game. “We came out firing, we were having a good time, we were making good decisions, probably had some good fortune too in the first half. And then in the second half we came out, we got rushed, we made poor decisions, honestly, with the disc, and that led to them being able to score,” said Clay Dewey-Valentine. “I think we let off the gas a little bit. …That was just a mental decision. It’s not like we didn’t have legs. We felt like we could coast and they showed us we couldn’t and then we had to work our asses off in the second [half],” said Christian Brink. Luke Jesperson said, “We can definitely do a lot better. We just lost a little mental focus on our D, I think I did as well.” Issac Entz said that the Rainmakers will have to play hard the entire game next week in their rematch against the Nighthawks. “They’re going to play fired up next week at home, it’s going to be a tough game. We gotta make sure we… don’t get complacent when we’re up by a couple.” Brink added, “They’re not the kind of team to just roll over. They’re going to fight till the very last second.”
Clay Dewey-Valentine said that Seattle would definitely be working on their mental game. “It’s a constant battle throughout the entire season to get a better mental game and focus on what we’re doing and what we can do to be better and be patient with the disc,” said Dewey-Valentine. Jesperson said that the Rainmakers are working towards “something a little bigger” in terms of their game. “We’re working out a few different [defensive lineups] and I thought at least we technically played a little better and we were strategically more sound towards the end of the game. It feels good to improve throughout the game,” said Jesperson.
The Rainmakers will take on the Nighthawks on Saturday, May 7th at 6 pm in Vancouver. Get tickets here.
Can’t make it to Vancouver for the game? Catch all the action live on MLU Live!