Photo by Scobel Wiggins – UltiPhotos.com

The Seattle Rainmakers defeated the Portland Stags 19-7 on a Sunday which was, fittingly, cold and rainy throughout the afternoon.

Seattle was in control throughout the entire match behind athletic defense by Jacob Speidel and Phil Murray, along with potent offense by BJ Sefton.

Seattle opened the game receiving the pull from Portland. The Rainmakers opened in horizontal stack offense, which they continued to use throughout the game. From the start, the change to the wide field was noticeable. Handlers spent a considerable amount of time swinging the disc back and forth across the 53 1/3 yards.

Both teams turned over the disc before Sefton was able to put a throw into the endzone for a score. Seattle then jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead with two breaks behind man defense and a massive layout D by Jacob Speidel.

“Speidel was fantastic today; he was flying around the field,” said Rainmakers Coach Ben Wiggins. “Not only is he mastering his footwork on one person, but his head is up and seeing the field for [other] opportunities. That’s just the mark of a great defender.”

Portland was finally able to get a hold with a hammer throw to the corner of the endzone. But 3-1 was the closest the Stags would get. Seattle would lead 6-2 at the end of the first quarter and 10-4 at half. One particular statistic was telling: Seattle’s D-line managed 9 breaks to Portland’s 1.

The addition of quarter period time constraints, which end the point, created interesting “buzzer beater” plays from both teams. At the end of the first half, Portland sent a deep huck to University of Washington standout Khalif El-Salaam. Guarding El-Salaam was Seattle cutter Seth Wiggins. Wiggins layed out for the disc, but it kept on flying right towards the endzone. El-Salaam leapt out for the score but was unable to haul it in, to mixed cheer and disappointment from the 200 spectators.

Seattle continued to lead, with the score 14-6 at the end of the third quarter.  The defense was consistently able to convert turnovers into scores. Cutter Phil Murray managed some spectacular skying D’s due to some inadvisable throws on Portland’s part. “I got pretty lucky. They hung for a little bit, so I was able to get a good bead on [them]”. The new disc used by the MLU, the Innova Pulsar, generates more lift than a standard Discraft Ultrastar.

In spite of Seattle’s resounding victory, both cutter Phil Murray and Coach Ben Wiggins saw room for improvement on the offensive side of the disc.

“We’re still adjusting to the field length and width. Trying to figure out when and how to cut is a little difficult for us right now,” said Murray. Coach Wiggins characterizes offense as being made up of three stages: standard offense off the pull, “black zone” offense with less down field space, and end zone offense. “Sometimes you huck and skip a stage,” said Wiggins. “But we didn’t have a clean offensive point through all three stages.”

With two weeks until their first regular season game against their Canadian rivals on April 20th, the team will surely be working on adjusting to the new field. One week after the home opener, see if the Rainmakers can repeat their dominating D against the Stags here at home on April 27.

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