The San Francisco Dogfish beat the Seattle Rainmakers 16-15 tonight on their home field at Kezar Stadium. Down 8-3 after two quarters, the Dogfish defensive lines went to work in the second half, got a handle on their unforced errors and ground out a five point run to get back into the game. Seattle had opportunities to put the game away, but two dropped pulls and stall call in the fourth quarter stand out as the preventable mistakes that would have made the difference between winning and losing.
A series of Dogfish throwing errors right at the start of the game put the Rainmakers ahead 3-0 almost instantly. Rainmaker Frank Barich was active in the early points, scoring one goal and throwing for another. Following a timeout, the Dogfish O line took care of business against the Rainmaker zone to make it 3-1. Dogfish Andrew Hagen led the D line in breaking back, completing a goal to Patrick Baylis to make it 3-2. The Rainmakers would break again on their next opportunity, and the first quarter ended with Seattle up 5-2.
The Dogfish started the second quarter on offense but the Rainmakers won that point to push ahead 6-2. A multi-turn point followed, and finally the Dogfish got their third point on a throw from David Abram to Adam Farren. Another pair of long points would run down the clock in the first half, but the Rainmakers would end up scoring both to go into half-time up 8-3. Both teams were giving the disk away trying but failing to convert on long throws in the wind. The difference seemed to be that the Rainmakers were executing a few more difficult plays than the Dogfish.
The Dogfish opened the second half with a score from James Pollard to Jordan Jeffery to make the score 8-4 Rainmakers. The teams would trade points to get to 9-5. Rainmakers Danny Karlinsky, Reid Koss and Matt Zemel made plays on the next couple of points to put Seattle up 11-5 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. The ensuing point featured seven turns and chewed up four minutes, a hell-point that seems to be a compulsory feature of Dogfish home games. David Abram had to make a layout grab to end it, and this made the score 11-6 Rainmakers. This would turn out to be a huge turning point in the game.
Kevin Smith got a D and completed a huck to Tyler Grant to get an upwind break for the Dogfish. Patrick Baylis threw to Zack Travis to convert the down-winder and the Dogfish climbed back in to the game, 11-8. Alex Brammer had a footblock to give the Dogfish one more chance before the end of the third quarter, but the upwind huck was just out of reach as time ran out.
Hagen started the fourth with a big defensive play, and Ryo Kawaoka converted the point on a throw to Baylis to make it 11-9 Rainmakers. Unbelievably the Rainmakers dropped the next pull which the Dogfish converted to make it 11-10. With 8:47 left in the game the six point Rainmaker lead had dwindled to 1. Adam Simon scored on the next upwind goal to get the Rainmakers back to 12-10.
Brammer hit Jeffery with a nice upwind huck to get to 12-11, then Abram got a layout D that enabled Hagen to tie the game at 12 on a throw to Lucas Dallmann. The Rainmakers would score to get to 13-12 and had multiple chances to break, but a Dogfish timeout led to a Dallmann score to Farren, tying the game at 13 with four and half minutes left.
The Rainmakers turned the disk over on a called stall, and the Dogfish got their first lead of the game, 14-13, with Tyler Grant throwing to Drew Kim. The teams traded quick O points to get to 15-14 Dogfish, and then Rainmaker Adam Holt had trouble deciding how to handle a difficult pull. Holt got hit by the pull, resulting in a turnover, and Ryo Kawaoka threw to Hagen to put the Dogfish up 16-14 at the 1:54 mark. Seattle’s Matt Rehder scored the next point with just over a minute left in the game. The Rainmakers had their chances to tie on the last series, but in the end the Dogfish defense held on for the 16-15 win.
The main arc of this game was very similar to the previous Dogfish vs. Rainmakers match at Kezar. The Rainmakers looked like the better team early in the game and went in to halftime up by five points. In the second half the Dogfish defense, fortified by their depth, took a toll on Seattle’s short list of playmakers. San Francisco’s run was keyed by being able to substitute entire lines, and the Rainmakers’ reliance on five or six guys to carry a larger portion of the offensive load left them in a bit of a tailspin during the Dogfish comeback.
The win puts the 7-1 Dogfish ahead of the 6-2 Rainmakers as the top seed in the Western Conference. There is one week left in the regular season. Both these teams play back-to-back games next weekend, and they will see each other again next Sunday in Seattle. June 29th the teams will meet in Kezar for the Western Conference Championship.
Game Notes: In the first half Seattle had a lot of success with the long game, beating San Francisco on many 50/50 disks for both D’s and scores, but they got away from that in the second half. Will Chen played a really solid game at the handler position for the Dogfish, and the stats line understates the value of Chen’s contributions. Alexander Brammer and Andrew Hagen continue to make major contributions for the Dogfish after having started the season on the practice squad. The Dogfish weren’t entirely blunder-free in the second half; Dogfish Coach Justin Safdie burned a timeout late in the fourth to avoid a stall count turnover and in doing so nullified a throw for a score.