Photo by Scobel Wiggins – UltiPhotos.com
On Saturday, April 18, the Rainmakers lost to Portland, 21-12, in the season opener at Hillsboro Stadium just outside Portland, Oregon.
In the locker room before the game, the coaching staff, led by Head Coach Steve Gussin, talked about trust and believing in the system. That system quickly got tested by a more experienced Portland team that capitalized on a missed huck opportunity to Seattle big man Isaac Entz in the first point of the game to put Portland ahead 1-0. Seattle quickly responded with a score of their own by Seattle Player of the Game, Mark Burton. This was the closest the Rainmakers would get as Portland continued to dominate on both sides of the disc.
Burton continued to run the show on offense scoring all of Seattle’s first quarter goals and often drawing double teams. Despite layout bids by rookies Brad Houser and Matt Neeley, Portland would continue to break at least two more times in the first quarter to lead 6-3 over Seattle.
The second quarter started on a high note for the Rainmakers as the D-line of Seattle got a quick turn and young star Henry Phan found defensive captain Eddie Feeley on an outside-in flick goal. Seattle and Portland would both trade goals as the wind began to play a factor. The Stags would break once more in three attempts making the score 10-6 Portland with less than two minutes left in the half.
Portland utilized a new MLU rule by calling a timeout between points to be able to pull from half field, hoping to trap Seattle in their own end zone for a Callahan, thereby giving them the goal and the disc. However, an offsides by Seattle started the disc in the middle of the end zone and Seattle was able to work it to half field before turning it over on simple miscues. Portland would score twice more in the final two minutes to be up 12-6 at half.
“Six points is not an insurmountable point deficit to overcome,” said Coach Gussin at halftime. “A few breaks in the third quarter and a few more in the fourth and we are right back in this.”
The third quarter started much the same way the first quarter did. Burton overthrew his target, Wes Simons, and Portland punched it in for the first goal out of half. Things would continue to go Portland’s way as a Seattle receiver ran into a ref causing him to miss the deep goal, and Portland would break to make the score 14-6.
In a strategy shift, Seattle began to play its D-line as offense. This would prove to be a good move as Henry Phan found Neeley for the next goal then proceeded to get a poach block, allowing the D-line to score quickly.
Late in the half Burton would try to shoulder the load and lead the offense with his legs; however, Portland began double and sometimes triple teaming his open cuts. The Stags would continue to score in bunches rolling off the first two scores in the fourth quarter, making the score 19-9 Portland.
Not to be outpaced the Rainmakers would score on patient, side-to-side offense, then a poach block by tall man Ben Beehner brought the score to 19-11. Portland and Seattle traded points for the remaining few minutes of the game resulting in a 21-12 game.
“What we saw in practices the past few weeks was not what we saw today,” said Coach Gussin. “Our offense did not show up.”
“Yeah, I was doing too much out there,” said Burton. “I was over cutting and that wasn’t good for us as an offense.”
The Rainmakers hope with the return of Danny Trytiak and Khalif El-Salaam, out for injury and personal conflicts, respectively, that their next game versus the Vancouver Nighthawks on April 25 will be more representative of the work the team has put in over the last few months.
As a reminder, the April 25 game will be played at Mt. Vernon High School in Mt. Vernon as it’s the showcase game for DiscNW’s Spring Reign tournament. Tickets are available online here.