The San Francisco Dogfish had a strong win today against the Vancouver Nighthawks, generating seven breaks in the third quarter to shut down Vancouver and facilitate a 23-13 final score.
The wind at Boxer stadium was once again a huge factor, but the Dogfish depth was the overwhelming difference in the game.
In the first quarter the wind had its way with both teams in turn. Initially the Nighthawks were turnover happy, giving the Dogfish defense the first point of the game and making Zach Travis look like a monster with a run-through block and later a D on a deep throw. At 3-2 Dogfish, the Nighthawks had a couple of poor throws that resulted in a Sam Kanner half-field huck to Martin Cochran to go up 4-2.
The Dogfish had an opportunity to break again, but the wind then started to have its way with them. A simple swing caught air and sailed over Will Chen’s hands allowing Kirk Savage to score and bring the Nighthawks to 4-3. On the next point Dogfish Ashlin Joye had throwaway but managed to get the disc back on a layout D in the endzone. Later in that series, Dogfish handler Ryo Kawaoka put a short throw along the sideline out of bounds. This was a preservation of greatness turn, as Kawaoka had just made a diving save on the throw to him. The Nighthawks’ Andrew Gailits then threw a score to Kirk Savage to close the quarter tied at 4s.
To start the second quarter, the Dogfish put the defense on the field again, and the Nighthawks received the disc going into the wind. The Nighthawks turned the disc over on a travel call, and although they got the disc back, they couldn’t convert and Kawaoka hucked to Cochran to put the Dogfish ahead 5-4. The Nighthawks O line then went downwind quickly to tie at 5s on a Charles Eyrich score from Kevin Underhill.
At 5-5 the compulsory Boxer stadium 8-turn hell point took place, with both teams burning a timeout a piece. The highlight here was multiple layout blocks by Dogfish defensive star Andrew Hagen, and a great leaping catch at a full sprint by Russ Wynne on the huck that set up the Dogfish score. In retrospect this marked the beginning of the end for the Nighthawks.
Dogfish Assistant Coach Matt Ruby explained the Dogfish advantage, “We can send our second and third lines on the field without any considerable drop off in ability. We feel that the bottom half of our roster is probably better than the the bottom half of any other team’s roster.”
The Dogfish put entirely fresh legs on the field after the hell point and proceeded to get two quick breaks. The first was the result of a Cochran block, which Kanner rewarded by throwing Cochran the score. The second came off a heady Kawaoka block as a tired Nighthawks O line tried to force a disc through the Dogfish cup. The end of the half saw the teams trade points, but while the Nighthawks O line was fighting for their scores, the Dogfish O line was rolling. San Francisco went in to halftime up 9-6.
The start of the third quarter had the Dogfish D line pulling downwind again to the Nighthawks O. Hagen and Wynne made defensive plays leading to another the break and putting the Dogfish ahead 10-6. AT 11-8 the Nighthawks had a chance to break back when Dogfish Drew Kim got a bad case of the drops. Unfortunately, Vancouver called timeout allowing Coach Justin Safdie to put a defensive line in that went on to save that point. The score saw Zach Travis make a great catch on a disc heading out of bounds and then firing a 30 yard frozen rope to Cochran.
Then the Nighthawks had the wheels come off. Dogfish defenders were getting down on the pull, generating quick turns and converting. At 14-8 Vancouver’s Mark Leduc had an amazing throw to Gailits for a quick offensive score, but then the Dogfish O line came out and scored right back. San Francisco executed textbook down-the-line fifteen yarders that ended with Evan Boucher throwing a nice bendy backhand to Eric Greenwood to make the score 15-9.
The Dogfish had everything going their way in the third quarter. The next break saw Ashlin Joye go up in crowd to save a Mac Taylor huck and then later throw the goal to Nic Schlag. On a later break, Russ Wynne had a thrilling layout D on a handler throw going away from him. Dogfish Jordan Jeffery was helping the team by rolling pulls out of bounds on the downwind sideline, putting the Nighthawks in terrible positions to start on offense. The third quarter ended with the Dogfish up 19-9.
In the fourth quarter the Dogfish would push their lead as high as 21-10. The teams started playing a little looser as time wound down, and the final score ended up being 23-13 Dogfish.
Brief words with Vancouver’s Andy Collins revealed the Nighthawks were disappointed but not phased. “There’s not much to explain; our offense couldn’t hang on to the disc and our defense wasn’t converting on turns. [The Dogfish] wanted to bounce back from their loss in Portland last week and they brought energy that we were’t ready to match.” When asked if Vancouver missed not having stars Oscar Pottinger and Morgan Hibbert, Collins said, “It doesn’t explain the ten point difference. We just didn’t have it today. We played [the Dogfish] well in Vancouver, and we’ll get them back in our house again.”
The win today puts the Dogfish back in control of their campaign to secure a top seed in the MLU playoffs. For the Nighthawks the loss is a setback, as the season is short on opportunities for them to climb back into contention. The teams play one more time this season, June 8 in Vancouver.