It was a scrappy, windy, gritty Ultimate game, and in the end the Seattle Rainmakers prevailed in their native northwest weather over the visiting San Francisco Dogfish, 18-16.
The Dogfish had their chances in the last point after going on a run in the second half. With 2:13 remaining, Seattle used a series of quick handler passes between Eddie Feeley and Henry Phan to get the disc moving up the field. Just outside the red zone, Phan lost his grip and turfed the disc into the ground. San Francisco turned it right back on the next throw, but Dogfish defensive cutter Jackson Stearns reclaimed possession by defending a huck. But the Dogfish could not get anything together and coughed it up on a drop. Intent on finishing the job, Seattle players Eddie Feeley, Reid Koss and Skip Sewell played keep away to kill the clock and seal the win.
The key factor to Seattle’s win was the enormous lead they amassed in the first half. Seattle opened the scoring with a huck to Donnie Clark on the goal line, who made an easy pass to Jimmy Chu for the score. The Seattle D-line followed up with two breaks to grab a 3-0 lead, utilizing a strong mark by Henry Phan to force turnovers. San Francisco finally got on the board when Matt Kissmann pulled down a huck and dumped the disc to Nick Weiss, who immediately passed it back to Kissmann for the score.
It would not get better for San Francisco in the first half. Seattle would grab two more breaks before the end of the first quarter and three in the second quarter for a total of seven in the first half. The Dogfish D-line could only manage one. At one point, the Rainmakers were up 12-3, before the Dogfish scored a point and broke the next, to make it 12-5 at half.
Though Seattle played superb defense, with Rory Gallagher and Reid Koss making layout defensive plays, the Dogfish were more responsible for the deficit. The first half saw numerous unforced drops and poor decisions by San Francisco. Seattle simply capitalized. Perhaps it was fatigue from playing Portland the day before combined with a depleted roster, without notorious stars Mac Taylor and Evan Boucher.
Whatever it was, San Francisco stopped the bleeding in the second half, opening the third quarter with a 5-1 run to narrow the lead to 13-10. They built the run on strong defense, with blocks from Sam Adamson and Ian Ranahan. San Francisco scored another break off of a drop from Tom Rosatto.
Donnie Clark set the tone for the team on the next point, burning his man deep in the end zone while Matty Zemel put the disc to space. But the goal was not to be, as the wind popped the disc up in the air at the last moment. Gusting winds had picked up midway through the game and Clark was unable to make the adjustment. To add insult to injury, the disc smacked him in the mouth and chipped his tooth after passing through his hands. Undeterred, Clark made a layout block and Zemel picked up the disc. He put it to space for Clark again, and this time he was not to be denied. Seattle withstood San Francisco’s comeback, clearly content to run out the clock.
“We haven’t been in many situations where we’re up seven going into the third quarter,” said Clark. “That was somewhere we failed. We weren’t mentally there even though we said we were going to come out hard in the second half.”
Seattle also suffered from low offensive productivity due to the absence of their lead handler Adam Simon and all-around player Sam Harkness. The defense stepped up however, keeping the Dogfish at bay.
“We played an awesome first half and executed our game plan really well,” said Coach Steve Gussin. “We didn’t play a great second half, and they did.
“It was a gritty game. It was a game that reflected the weather a little bit; it was a game that reflected [two] teams that really wanted the win.”
Seattle is now 3-1 in the Western Conference and they will travel to face Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium on Saturday, May 10. The Dogfish fall to 1-5 and will face Vancouver on May 17 at Boxer Stadium in San Francisco after a much needed BYE.