The San Francisco Dogfish defeated the Vancouver Nighthawks 13-12 in overtime on Saturday at Boxer Stadium to break San Francisco’s five-game losing streak.
San Francisco trailed by two entering the fourth quarter, but back-to-back defensive plays late gave life to the Dogfish. They forced a stall and a drop, which the line covered into an 11th and 12th goal to tie the game and force overtime.
Overtime began where the fourth quarter left off, with defense, defense and more defense. The period opened with four throwaways and a block in less than two minutes of play, until Drew Kim sent the disc to Evan Boucher for what would be the game-winning goal. For the next three minutes and 23 seconds the Nighthawks struggled through two delay-of-game calls, a stall and two more throwaways before the clock wound down and the Dogfish walked away with their second win of the season.
The win puts the Dogfish at 2-5, breaking a losing streak that has beset them since the second week of the season.
“It feels great,” said Kohji Sugioka. “We really needed the win. I hope it starts our forward momentum.”
The grinding, defensive tone the game took was set early when the Dogfish made five defensive plays in the opening point. Half of the squad came up with at least one block over the course of the game, led by team captain Evan Boucher (three blocks, two assists, one goal), Evan Brydon (three blocks, one assist) and Aaron Weaver (three blocks, three goals).
Jackson Stearns (three goals, one block) and Drew Kim (two goals, two assists) were also strong for the Dogfish O-line, including a spectacular one-handed grab by Kim over three Nighthawks defenders in the second quarter.
The Nighthawks battled just as ferociously, with a third of their roster netting a block. Brendan Wong (one assist, two goals, one block), Gagendeep Chatha (one assist, two goals), Kevin Underhill (two assists, one goal, one block) and John Norris (two assists, one goal) were key to building and maintaining the Nighthawks’ early lead.
The infamous San Francisco wind was friend to no one during the game. Throws went high, long and straight into the turf with incredible regularity. The first quarter was a low-scoring 4-4, and both teams sought to open things up in the second with longer throws, but the first half ended in a tie again at eights.
By the third quarter both teams were deploying double-team and zone-like defenses to great effect. Individual marking also heightened in intensity, leading to multiple foul calls on both teams and an increase in risky throws. From another tie at 10 the Nighthawks pulled away and scored twice in the final 23 seconds of the quarter, putting them up 12-10.
In the final quarter the Dogfish continued to throw it away on long bombs, and the Nighthawks followed suit. Unlike in other games this season, however, San Francisco capitalized early on short-range Vancouver misfortunes, showing how well they could move the disc without hucking.
The Dogfish have another BYE week before hitting the road to play the Portland Stags at Mt. Hood Community College Stadium on Saturday, May 31 at 6 p.m. PT. Buy tickets here.