The San Francisco Dogfish face the Portland Stags on Saturday for the fourth and final time this season. The teams played each other last week and the Stags came out on top, 20-15.
As in previous matchups against the Stags this year, the Dogfish started strong but trailed off toward the end of the game. San Francisco led by one at the close of the first quarter, but fell steadily behind in the remaining quarters of the game.
Trading points and closing gaps is not new for Dogfish play against the Stags, but San Francisco was also plagued by an uncharacteristic number of drops and a squad that was short some star players last Saturday.
This week James Yeager (12 assists, 1 goal), Drew Kim (10 assists, 5 goals), James Pollard (7 assists, 4 goals), Tyler Grant (6 assists, 5 goals), Matt Kissman (4 assists, 8 goals) and top-scorer Sam Adamson (3 assists, 12 goals) will be buoyed by the return of team captain and point-leader Evan Boucher (16 assists, 8 goals) and Mac Taylor (8 assists, 2 goals).
The Stags’ confident offense has consistently been led by Cody Bjorklund (top ten in MLU for points and goals), Eli Friedman and Jeremy Norden (both top five in MLU for throws and Friedman leads for throwing percentage), Mark Burton and Dan Suppnick. Portland will have to make some adjustments with Bjorklund and Suppnick both absent this week.
The Dogfish still retain three spots in the MLU top ten for defense, but defense has not been an issue this season. The team is getting the turns, but still needs to improve efficiency with the disc. With a compressed start to the season there was little time for tweaking, but the Dogfish have demonstrated longer and longer stretches of offensive flair as the weeks wore on.
“The biggest challenge facing us this weekend is ourselves and our own decision making,” said Dogfish Head Coach Justin Safdie. “There is nothing specifically that the Stags do that I am concerned about stopping. The model of consistency has to come from the top down, and I’m working with the leaders of the team to make sure they understand the importance of being role models.”
To add another win to their 2-6 record, the Dogfish need to play calm but be mindful of the clock on Saturday. If they can take a page from their other opponents’ book this year, they’ll go up early and ruthlessly maintain the lead. They’ve done it before against the Stags; they just need to make their efforts sustainable through the final minutes of the game.
Although the current weather forecast is for mild conditions, San Francisco’s Boxer Stadium is rarely without its infamous, unpredictable wind. The Dogfish will be aided by that and a crowd of Fish Faithful eager for revenge against the team that handed them their only home-field loss to date.
For their part, the Stags will be eager to shut out San Francisco with this win and secure Portland’s spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Dogfish and Stags will battle it out at Boxer Stadium on Saturday starting at 2 p.m. PT. Don’t miss a minute of the action – buy your tickets here.