The San Francisco Dogfish lost to the Vancouver Nighthawks, 21-13 at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver on Saturday. The loss puts the Dogfish out of contention for the 2015 Western Conference championship.
The Nighthawks came into the game with a high level of energy they sustained through all four quarters. The Dogfish matched them in the first quarter, which ended in a tie, but the Nighthawks took the half with a five-point lead and continued to work the disc through the middle of the field and expand their lead until the game ended with Vancouver’s definitive eight-point win.
Despite their larger squad, the Dogfish looked low-energy through the last three-quarters of the game compared to the Nighthawks. Dogfish players Sam Adamson, Chris McCarty and Nicholas Fiske all had key blocks in the first quarter to keep things close in the beginning and Andrew Hooker (4 assists), Gabe Saunkeah (1 assist, 2 goals, Jackson Stearns (2 assists) and James Yeager (2 assists) helped keep things afloat in the backfield, but Nighthawks Ari Nitikman (3 assists,1 goal), Charles Eyrich (1 assist, 2 goals), Morgan Hibbert (3 assists, 3 goals) and Dave Hochhalter (1 assist, 5 blocks) ran the game too well for Vancouver.
The first quarter was marked by tough defense and long throws on the part of both teams. The Nighthawks played at a faster pace than the Dogfish, but the Dogfish played good heads-up offense, exemplified by a play where Hooker attempted a hammer and then caught the disc again off the Nighthawks defensive block. The quarter was defined by the defense, and ended with the teams tied 4-4.
In the second quarter the play shifted from defense to offense, particularly on the part of the Nighthawks. Even though they only worked the disc within a narrow column in the middle of the field, their short confident passes fed into their strengths and allowed them to widen the gap and pull ahead of the Dogfish to take the half, 12-7.
By the third quarter the Dogfish were feeling the pressure, but seemed unable to reverse the tide of the game. They continued with long throws that sailed too far or fell to Nighthawks defense. Vancouver seemed to be playing with more fire, and often left the Dogfish trailing in their wake. The Nighthawks also seemed to benefit more from the unexpected; on one play David Abram got a great block on a Vancouver disc in the end zone but it bounced up and over, letting the receiver follow it and score on the second effort. The Dogfish brought the score one closer by the end of the quarter, entering the last period behind the Nighthawks, 15-11.
By the fourth quarter the Nighthawks began to take bigger risks with the hope of bigger gains. When they continued their upfield march to a huck, it worked. When they tried to adopt the Dogfish wide swing offense, it didn’t. The Dogfish were off their game, with miscues on offense and a loosening defense until the final points of the game. Tension was running high on the field, and the number of foul calls seemed to rise. Despite a handful of great plays by the Dogfish, the Nighthawks secured their win with a final score of 21-13.
The Dogfish travel to Seattle today to play their last game of the regular season against the Rainmakers.