The San Francisco Dogfish lost to the Portland Stags for the second week in a row, 17-12. It was the second of San Francisco’s home-field losses, both at the hands of the Stags.
The Stags went up 2-0 at the beginning of the game and maintained that lead into halftime. In the third quarter the Dogfish were missing discs high and wide, while the Stags’ investment in risky throws paid off and they took a five-point lead. Although the Dogfish toggled within three points of the Stags in the fourth quarter, they failed to score again after the 5:30 minute mark.
“The Stags were doing a good job of swinging the disc, and we were stuck on the sidelines and having a hard time. Defensively we had the edge, but offensively we needed to stretch the field more,” said Dogfish defensive handler Gary Dixon.
Challenges aside, several players on the Dogfish squad were making solid connections throughout the day. Tyler Grant led the team with 37 throws and 1 assist, followed closely by James Pollard with 30 throws, 1 assist and 1 goal. Mac Taylor (24 throws, 3 assists, 2 goals), James Yeager (22 throws, 1 assist, 1 goal) and Drew Kim (18 throws, 2 goals) also featured prominently on the field on offense, and Jordan Jeffery led the team with three defensive blocks.
The Stags had nice flow and made some great plays, spreading the wealth in the absence of Cody Bjorklund. Jeremy Norden led the game with 40 throws and 2 assists. Eli Friedman was another force on offense with 29 throws, 1 assist and 1 goal, followed closely by Adrian King with 27 throws and 1 assist. Topher Davis led the Stags in scoring (3 goals) and tied with Adam Ferrea for 2 defensive blocks.
In the first quarter both teams aired out their long throws, unsuccessfully at first. After Portland went up 2-0, San Francisco showed how the short game can be played, with Yeager popping in for what seemed to be every other throw and putting the Dogfish on the board. San Francisco’s second point of the quarter had to be scored twice when a throw from Taylor to Kim was not deemed a goal. Grant got the defense, got fouled and the Dogfish scored with 1:22 remaining. Nice work by both teams ended the quarter with the Stags in the lead, 5-3.
The second quarter showcased great heads-up plays by both teams. The Stags took advantage of a Dogfish double-team to work the disc up through an open middle for a score, and the Dogfish were able to recover two discs that had been blocked by the Stags defense. Still, the Stags maintained their first-quarter cushion and entered the half ahead, 8-6.
It was the third quarter where things rapidly took a turn for the Dogfish. The Stags gained yardage on two foul calls and, despite a stall call on Portland, the Dogfish turned the disc multiple times back into the Stags’ hands. The Stags added two to their two-point lead less than halfway through the quarter after a swing to Evan Boucher went too far and a too-long huck was redeemed by a Dogfish defensive play but was followed by a turn. The Dogfish seemed to deflate a bit and the Stags moved the disc at will, making the margin five points with 2:49 left in the quarter. Although the Dogfish flipped their defensive switch to high with layouts and marking pressure in the final part of the third, much damage had already been done.
By the fourth quarter long throws and hammers were in full flight. Amped-up defense forced turnovers on both sides, but adrenaline was running high on throws as well, and they often went astray. The Dogfish were able to pull within three points a few times in the quarter, and with 4:30 remaining and their defensive pressure taking its toll, it looked like the Dogfish were confirming a comeback. But at 15-12 the Dogfish slowed in their forward momentum, and the Stags climbed to 17-12 with 1:57 remaining. Seconds later Eric Rivera and Eli Blackman collided and both left the game, and the Dogfish turned the disc on their end zone line, sealing the Stags’ five-point victory.
“It’s been the same story all season,” said Dixon, reflecting on where the team needs to focus. “Our offense has been having difficulty finding flow, finding chemistry and having a functional deep game.”
Next week the team has a bye, giving them a chance to regroup and refine. Come see for yourself how the Dogfish put all the pieces together when they play their last game of the season on June 21 at 2 pm against the Vancouver Nighthawks. Buy your tickets here.