Seattle defeated the Vancouver Nighthawks 20-15 to take the glory in the first annual border bid at Mount Vernon High School Stadium in Mount Vernon, Washington.
With a history of close games behind them, it was hardly a surprise that Seattle held just a two-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Up 17-15, Seattle received the disc but was unable to hold possession. Three subsequent turnovers saw Vancouver closing in on the end zone. But Rainmaker cutter Khalif El-Salaam made a layout D on a Vancouver upline pass to Morgan Hibbert. He immediately cut deep and caught the fast break huck from Seattle handler Mario O’Brien for the bookends. El-Salaam finished the night with a little bit of everything, four goals, two assists, and one defensive play.
The American contingent managed two more breaks to end the game. The Rainmakers defense was on fire at the end of the game and the Vancouver offense headed by Kirk Savage and Kevin Underhill were unable to convert scores. The five-point deficit for Vancouver marks the first loss in franchise history greater than two points.
“I feel like we executed the pregame plan really well,” said Seattle cutter Isaac Entz. “We held the marks we wanted to hold; we forced the turnovers when we were looking to. We got really hyped up and kept it to that level, especially in the fourth quarter.”
The first quarter was a back and forth affair. Seattle received the first pull and moved the disc fifty yards up the sideline before making a quick swing to cutter Danny Trytiak in the middle of the field. Trytiak made an easy backhand to El-Salaam for the first score.
On the next point, Seattle’s defense forced Vancouver into stagnancy and a high stall count. Seattle defensive cutter Reid Koss earned a turnover before Seattle punched in the break. There were numerous occasions where Seattle’s defense blanketed the Nighthawk handlers, forcing poor throws into the middle of the field which could be picked off easily by Rainmakers.
“The thing I’m most proud about tonight was that players who were getting blocks were earning them off of the work of their teammates. We were playing defense as a team,” said Rainmakers Player/Coach Mario O’Brien.
“We talked about earning a D for your teammates, about being the player who is behind the scenes not necessarily on the stats sheet,” said Steve Gussin, the other half of the Rainmakers coaching duo.
Seattle earned another break in the first quarter, but Vancouver earned them back with two breaks of their own, fueled by a fantastic layout grab by Nighthawks cutter Brendan Wong. Offensive cutter Jordan Tessarolo was instrumental in Vancouver staying close, catching a score on the first break and earning a D on the second. The game was tied 5-5 at the end of the first quarter.
Vancouver earned another break on their first possession of the second quarter, but Seattle would have two more breaks to pull ahead, 8-6. The teams finished the half at 10-8.
In the second half, Seattle’s D-line, led by Eddie Feeley, continued to earn breaks. Seattle’s Henry Phan had himself a game on the defense, earning 5 assists. The offense got contributions from cutters Danny Trytiak (2 goals, 4 assists) and Donnie Clark (5 goals).
Vancouver’s Kirk Savage and Brendan Wong anchored the offensive line. Savage was a key distributor, earning four assists. He consistently used hammers to break the mark for scores. Downfield, Wong racked up three goals and one assist.
Vancouver falls to 1-2 and returns home for a bye next week, before playing the Rainmakers again on May 10th. Seattle moves to 2-1 on the season and will host San Francisco next week on May 4th at Renton Memorial.