Photo by Kyle McBard – UltiPhotos.com

San Francisco announced on Monday their 30-man roster for the 2015 season.

In addition to the 11 players who were already reported as signed for the upcoming season, the Dogfish have another four players returning to the team and 15 players selected through the combine process.

“In my evaluation this year, I was looking for individuals with high ultimate IQ, high athletic ceilings and a strong desire to contribute to the overall team success through growth both individually and in team identity,” said Dogfish Head Coach Justin Safdie.

The talent pool ran deep, with nearly 50 new faces vying to become part of the Dogfish pack at open tryouts on January 11. The invite-only session on January 25 included more players, and the coaching staff spent the next several weekends observing and analyzing to make their final selections.

“The tryouts I had to choose from were very strong in all of those traits,” said Safdie. “It was a difficult decision to finalize the 30-man roster.”

Safdie and his team have faced a similar mixed blessing in the past. San Francisco is ripe with ultimate talent, and the Dogfish had a great run in 2013, winning the Western Conference title and finishing second in the league to the Boston Whitecaps in the first MLU Championship game.

Last year, however, the Dogfish were plagued by roster turnover (only 10 players returned from season one) and a schedule with two double-header weekends within the first four weeks—not enough time to make strategy adjustments before the season was more than half over. They ended the season with a disappointing 2-8 record.

San Francisco’s 2015 roster is a mix of veterans, experienced players in their second season and eager rookies. Four players have been on the squad all three seasons: Sam Adamson, Evan Boucher, Drew Kim and James Pollard.

Last season, Pollard tied for eighth in overall points (14) and was fifth in assists (9) on the team. Adamson was seventh in overall points (15), in a three-way tie for first in goals (12) and tied for fifth in defensive blocks (7). Kim tied for fourth in overall points (17) and was fourth in assists (10).

“I’m ecstatic to be back with the pack this year,” said Kim. “With some key additions and a strong returning a core, the renewed team-first commitment should make for an amazing season.”

Boucher was team MVP in 2013 and served as team captain in 2014. Despite missing two games last season, he led the team in overall points (28) and assists (18) and was second on defensive blocks (9).

“I’m excited to be returning to the Dogfish, who now have a new identity entering the 2015 season,” said Boucher. “I’m looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead to get the Dogfish back on track to win a championship.”

Although defense has consistently remained a strong component of their game, the Dogfish struggled last season on conversions. Their offensive efforts should be helped by the leadership of the veteran players and the experience gained by the other 10 players who have already played one season with the team and forged some connections.

Eric “Ricky” Rivera, who moved from the practice squad to field regular last year, said, “Hard work aside, if we want to have a better win-loss ratio than last year, I think we’re going to have to lean on chemistry a lot more. The path ahead is definitely steep, but I’m sure the view up there will be great.”

The final roster for the 2015 San Francisco Dogfish is as follows:

David Abram (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign & Stanford University; Hoffman Estates, Ill.)
Thomas Adams^ (University of California, Berkeley; Piedmont, Calif.)
Sam Adamson (Allegheny College; Oakland, Calif.)
Evan Boucher (University of Louisville; Louisville, Ky.)
Taylor Cascino (University of California, Santa Barbara; San Francisco, Calif.)
Bryan Cheng^ (Stanford University; Columbia, S.C.)
Nicholas Fiske^ (University of California, Santa Barbara; Fresno, Calif.)
Andrew Goldstein^ (University of California, Berkeley; Needham, Mass.)
Andrew Hooker^ (Carleton College; San Francisco, Calif.)
David Janinis^ (California State University, Chico; Chico, Calif.)
Drew Kim (Vassar College; Foster City, Calif.)
Matt Kissmann (Humboldt State University; Sebastopol, Calif.)
Alexander Kopelyan^ (The University of Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa)
Thomas Lassetter^ (University of California, Santa Cruz; San Rafael, Calif.)
Raj Maitra^ (University of California, Santa Cruz; Minneapolis, Minn.)
Chris McCarty (Stanford University; Redwood City, Calif.)
Mike McGuirk^ (University of California, San Diego; Oakland, Calif.)
Andrew Ouyang^ (University of California, Berkeley; San Diego, Calif.)
Thomas Pineda ^ (University of California, Santa Cruz; Millbrae, Calif.)
James Pollard (University of California, Berkeley; Mountain View, Calif.)
Ian Ranahan (University of California, Santa Barbara; Orinda, Calif.)
Andrew Riggs^ (University of California, Berkeley; San Diego, Calif.)
Eric Rivera (Whittier College; Novato, Calif.)
Gabe Saunkeah^ ((University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley, Calif.)
James Sheridan (Carleton College; Charleston, W.Va.)
Jackson Stearns (San Diego State University; Oakland, Calif.)
Nick Thompson^ (Cornell University; Pittsford, N.Y.)
Shane Tracy^ (Sonoma State University; Rohnert Park, Calif.)
Nick Weiss (The Occidental College; Palo Alto, Calif.)
James Yeager (University of California, Santa Cruz; Louisville, K.Y.)

^Denotes MLU rookie.

Fans can look forward to another high-energy season in 2015. Despite their difficulties last year, the Dogfish played six of their ten games to within two or fewer points, and three games went into overtime. The key will be channeling that strength of skill and will into consistent wins.

“Everyone is excited to put the team above themselves, and having the entire team on the same page will be crucial to our success,” said Safdie.

The team also has a lot of support off the field. Dogfish General Manager Rusty May, who has moved into the GM role after serving as the team’s operations manager for the first two seasons, is happy about the team’s move to Berkeley and the open-arms response of the community.

“From the mayor’s office to the downtown business association to local companies like Andronico’s and Sports Basement and local charitable organizations like the Berkeley Public Schools Fund and the YMCA, Berkeley is excited about the Dogfish and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of this amazing community,” said May.

The Dogfish kick off the 2015 season on Sunday, April 19 at 2:00 p.m. at Yellowjacket Stadium against the Vancouver Nighthawks. In season one the Dogfish went undefeated against the Nighthawks. Last season the Dogfish went 1-2 against the Nighthawks, who went on to play in the 2014 MLU Championships.

Fish Faithful can see all the action firsthand as the stage is set for the 2015 season and the road to this year’s championship game. Buy your tickets today—there are great season ticket pack options available and special deals for groups.

Keep checking back to meet some of the players and get team updates as we get closer to the first pull of the season on April 19!

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