Photo by Michael Bury – Ultiphotos.com
The Rainmakers took on the Dogfish this past Sunday, a warm and mild spring day in Seattle. Expectations were high for Seattle to win in the team’s first matchup against each other this season. The Dogfish played a game the night before against the Vancouver Nighthawks that went into double overtime before the Dogfish lost, and then the team had to bus down to Seattle. Undoubtedly tired, physically and mentally, the San Francisco Dogfish played like they were pooped in the first half. Despite a better second half, they couldn’t come back from the looming point differential. The Rainmakers ability to break the Dogfish offense and then have the D line score made all the difference in the game.
The first quarter started off with Seattle getting a break on San Francisco. After letting the Dogfish score the next point, the Rainmakers went on a run, scoring five points in a row. San Francisco had a lot of unforced errors and poor throws that did not help their scoring efforts. After a long point of sloppy play by both teams, the Dogfish scored their second point of the quarter. The Rainmakers score two more points to end the first quarter 8-2, a healthy lead that stayed with them the entire game.
In the second quarter the Rainmakers really ran up the score, effectively winning the game. Seattle scored eight points in the second to San Francisco’s three. The Dogfish score any break points in the first half, the result of good defense by the Rainmakers and quite a few unforced errors, bad throws, and uncaught discs on the part of the Dogfish. The score at the end of the first half had Seattle up by 11 points at 16-5.
The Dogfish must have had quite a half time pep talk, as they had a resurgence in the second half, almost keeping up with the Rainmakers scoring. Seattle scored six in the third quarter and seven in the fourth quarter, while the Dogfish scored five in the third quarter and sixth in the fourth. Seattle lost some of their focus with their commanding lead, and played a little too sloppy and took a few too many risks. Coach Kate Kingery said that the team’s focus slipped a little. “I think it’s just hard to keep your momentum going. We definitely talked about playing a strong fourth quarter and I think we struggled a bit in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we stepped it up a little bit.” Seattle’s large lead did not help, Kingery added. “I think people were taking shots because we were up by a lot. There were a few more questionable deep throws. Overall, I think we were having fun, and if we’re having fun and the fans are having fun that’s what matters.” The Rainmakers thoroughly dominated the game, so even with some questionable decisions they went from a third quarter score of 22-10 to a final score of 29-16. Seattle just missed tying the MLU single game scoring record, 31 points, set by the Portland Stags playing against the Dogfish in Week 7 of 2013.
In such a high-scoring game, there were a lot of Seattle players that caught one in the endzone. Two thirds of the Rainmakers (14 players) scored this game, while 11 players scored two or more. Steve Gussin and rookie Dylan Harrington both scored three, and Khalif El-Salaam got to do four fabulous victory dances. Twelve Rainmakers had assists in the game, with four recording three or more, including Evan Klein with three, Henry Phan and El-Salaam with four each, and Gavin McKibben with five. El-Salaam is now fifth in the league for assists even though he has only played three games this season. Klein, Harrington, and Todd Sliva all had two blocks, and there were some impressive layout blocks in the game.
In this game, the break points really made the difference. The Dogfish and the Rainmakers both had 12 holds. In all the games the Rainmakers have won this season, Seattle has had the same number of holds as their opponent, except for their game against the Nighthawks on May 1st, where they only had one more hold. The D line breaks the opposing offense and then takes the opportunity to score, and the Rainmakers keep the other team from getting many breaks in return. The powerhouse trio of Klein, Cam Bailey, and Phan lead the defensive line in running up the score. In this game, the Defensive Scoring Efficiency of the Rainmakers was more than twice that of the Dogfish, at 51.5% to 25%. Their Offensive Scoring Efficiency was also much higher than San Francisco’s, with a whopping 75% to 36.4%. Both teams had many turnovers, with 17 for the Rainmakers and 33 for the Dogfish. San Fran had significantly more throws at 278 to Seattle’s 201, and they had an average of a whole extra throw per possession with 5.88 Touches Per Offensive Possession to Seattle’s 4.894. Seattle’s defense pressured San Francisco to pass the disc between handlers more, driving up the number of throws and the TPOP.
Gussin said that the Rainmakers were concentrating on their play during the game. “We talked a lot both at halftime and at the third quarter about making sure that we were focusing on our own stuff. Not worrying about necessarily the score at the end of the game but worrying about practicing doing the right things and making the correct choices. I think that we did a good job of keeping people present, keeping people focused on what they needed to be focused on.” Coach Kingery reiterated that idea as well. “We were definitely focused on ourselves and continuing to work on the process,” said Kingery. “For this game and for future games, doing things that we want to do against all the teams.”
Even though the Dogfish did not put up much of a challenge this game, the Rainmakers were still playing with good fundamentals. This is important to strengthen the team for the rest of the season, and for any possible postseason play against the Western-leading Portland Stags, who have already clinched a playoff bid with only one loss this season in their cross-divisional game against the Boston Whitecaps. The Rainmakers and the Dogfish will vie for the opportunity to play the Stags in the West Coast Championship game. The two losses the Rainmakers have had this season were to the Stags in the beginning of the season, and they have won four in a row since then, becoming a more cohesive and competitive team. Seattle will have to keep playing their own game in their matchup with the Nighthawks next Saturday in Vancouver. The Dogfish will have a week of rest before their next game, a rematch against the Rainmakers in San Francisco on June 4th.
Steve Gussin says that the Rainmakers know their next game against the Dogfish is going to be harder than this game. “We’re thinking a little bit about the next time we play these guys. We know they’re a better team than they showed today,” said Gussin. “They were beat up at the end of a double header. That’s a tough thing. They had a real late overtime game last night and had to drive down here for an early game today. That’s hard. We know that we learned a little bit but we also know this game is not gonna be super indicative. We gotta go into the next one fresh.”