The Seattle Rainmakers take to the road for their third game, heading to San Francisco for what’s sure to be an incredible experience for Ultimate fans, and since the two teams won’t see one another again until mid-June, this game will be important in setting the tone for the western conference season.
The Seattle Rainmakers will hop on a plane tomorrow morning for an away game against the third and final team in their conference, the San Francisco Dogfish. This will be the first time the two meet and the matchups look promising. Both sides boast strong, deep rosters full of talented handlers, cutters, downfield defenders, and shutdown marks. They’re both undefeated, and – early in the season though it may be – they’re both heavy favorites for the league championship.
Any questions about Seattle’s ability to close the door on an opponent were answered last week with a blowout win against Portland. They went on a 6-1 run in the 3rd quarter and didn’t let up for the rest of the game. San Francisco on the other hand is coming off a gritty away win against Vancouver where they pulled down a huck in the endzone with only seconds left to play. Was it mental toughness or luck? This week will decide.
In the club scene, San Francisco has simply owned Seattle for the last four years. The last time Seattle won a game against them was in 2010, and that was at home. So with the pre-game travel and a hostile crowd against them, Seattle will need to make some tough mental adjustments to compete.
Seattle has a slight edge statistically speaking right now, leading not only the conference but technically the league with a point differential of +8. They’ve also never once trailed in points this season. Seattle currently has the fewest goals against them of any team in the league, so look to the Rainmakers D-line to throw the defensive kitchen sink at San Francisco to break up the Dogfish’s composure and upfield continuations. They’ll likely be employing more man defense rather than the junk transition zone they’ve used in the past two games in order to physically push the offensive players around a bit and contain them. This might result in the Rainmakers drawing more penalties than usual, something the San Francisco fans will not be happy about, but that’s strategy for you.
This also might be Seattle’s best opportunity to steal the game since the infamous Beau Kittredge pulled a hamstring in the second half of last week’s game against Vancouver and therefore will not be playing. Additionally, three other Dogfish stars are out for the game: Ashlin Joye, Mac Taylor, and Martin Cocoran are all attending a training camp in Moscow, Russia. These four players have responsible for a combined 40% of San Francisco’s goals in the first two games of the season, so the depth of their roster will be tested. But head coach Justin Safdie, with his long history of playing and coaching, has led the team to two victories so far and the Dogfish smell blood in the water for game three.
That blood in the water is the Rainmakers’ own depleted roster. Rainmakers Phil Murray, Matty Zemel, Jacob Speidel, and Xtehn Titcomb are all in Berlin, Germany running a training clinic this weekend and will not be present. Additionally, Britt Atack, Matt Rehder, Moses Rifkin, and BJ Sefton will not be playing due to various injuries and scheduling conflicts.
That’s a significant portion of both O- and D-line players, so the Rainmakers will be relying upon the depth of their roster. Luckily, that’s something the team anticipated: last week a number of Rainmakers were slotted into positions they wouldn’t ordinarily play and the outcome was overwhelmingly positive. And they still have a solid handling core with Adam Holt and Danny Karlinsky anchoring the O-line and a cohesive defensive unit with standouts like Frank Barich and Seth Wiggins. But it’s no secret that Seattle struggles with air battles, something that San Francisco excels in. Look for the Dogfish to huck early and often to capitalize on their height advantage.
This early in the season, the field is ripe for forging superstars. Will fans see young gun Allan Laviolette shine in the San Francisco sun? Will lightning strike twice for Donnie Clark with another caught greatest? Will player-coach Ben Wiggins be lacing up his cleats for the first time this season?