The San Francisco Dogfish lost to the Vancouver Nighthawks 17-15 on Saturday. The home-field defeat marks the ends of San Francisco’s 2014 season.
The Nighthawks and Dogfish traded the lead in the first two quarters before ending the third quarter in a tie. After trading points again in the fourth, the Nighthawks pulled ahead and maintained the lead for the win.
“The Nighthawks were more consistent with their energy in this game,” said Dogfish offensive cutter Jackson Stearns. “They went on some runs, we went on some runs, and they responded a bit better.”
With Morgan Hibbert on defense and Brendan Wong (2 assist, 5 goals) on offense, the Nighthawks made a strong showing. Wong’s efforts broke the previous MLU record for points (61), putting him at 64 for the season. The Nighthawks were also aided by John Norris (5 assists, 1 goal) and Jordan Tessarolo (3 assists), followed by a fairly even spread of goals and assists throughout the rest of the team.
Although the Dogfish were down players, Saturday’s squad was fully capable of taking the game, and nearly did. Like the Nighthawks, the Dogfish were pretty egalitarian about who made plays. James Yeager (2 assists), Jordan Jeffery (2 assists, 1 goal), Jackson Stearns (1 assist, 2 goals) Gary Dixon (2 goals) and Tyler Grant (1 goal, 36 throws with a 94% completion rate) stood out for some great grabs as well as solid disc handling.
The Nighthawks went up early in the first quarter before the Dogfish stopped turning over the disc on hucks and worked a shorter field. Dixon had an incredible one-handed behind-the-back grab for a score. The other memorable aspect of this quarter was the second-to-last point, which featured a three-player bobble by the Nighthawks, a Dogfish travel for a turn and a Nighthawks triple-team call that still ended with Vancouver scoring and ending with a 5-4 lead.
In the second quarter the Dogfish turned the tables, scoring the first four points, including a point with a total of 11 turnovers from both teams. With 2:05 remaining in the half, the Nighthawks scored the last two points to bring them within one of the Dogfish, who led 8-7.
Peter Yu put the Nighthawks on the score board first in the third quarter after making a fantastic layout grab, then throwing the assist. The Dogfish went on a two-point run and the Nighthawks answered. The two teams then traded points to end the quarter tied at 12.
After turns from both teams, the Nighthawks scored first in the fourth with steady offensive flow. The Dogfish responded with textbook offense of their own for a score. The Nighthawks then scored the next three points, as the Dogfish began to turn the disc on drops and overthrown passes. The Dogfish regrouped and scored two points in a row. Now trailing by only one with 1:25 left in the game, San Francisco seemed to be gearing up for yet another overtime period this season. Instead, the Nighthawks scored to regain a two-point lead with 41.9 seconds remaining. The Dogfish worked the disc nicely but then turned it and the Nighthawks walked away with a 17-15 win.
“It was a disappointing loss, but it was great to battle it out today and kept it entertaining for the fans, who have been so supportive,” said Stearns. “Despite our record, I’m glad about what we’ve been able to achieve.”
Saturday’s game puts the Dogfish at 2-8 and marks the end of their 2014 season. The Nighthawks (6-4) will go on to play the Portland Stags (8-2) on June 28 in the Western Conference finals.
This article was updated on June 22 to reflect corrections in stats for Brendan Wong (additional assist and record-breaking status) and John Norris (additional assist), and the inclusion of Tyler Grant.