On Sunday the San Francisco Dogfish play the Seattle Rainmakers for the third time this season. The two teams faced off last Saturday in San Francisco, and will face off again in the playoffs on June 29. Based on last week’s game, both teams have some work to do.

In their two previous games, the Dogfish and the Rainmakers were both working with smaller squads. This week the Dogfish are down a few players to injury, but welcome back Beau Kittredge, Mac Taylor, Ashlin Joye, and Russell Wynne, who haven’t yet played against the Rainmakers due to Team USA commitments. The more robust roster will be helpful not only because of the Dogfish double header this weekend (they play the Portland Stags on Saturday), but this infusion of talent will help against the highly skilled Seattle team.

Until now, each game between these teams has been played in the unpredictable wind of San Francisco. Although the Dogfish have typically been able to take advantage of the weather on their home turf, the wind seemed to work decidedly against both teams last weekend. If the wind will not be a factor in Seattle, the Rainmakers may be able to hold on to the lead that they’ve given up in each of the last two games against the Dogfish.

One of the bright spots for the Dogfish last weekend was their patience in working it through the Rainmakers zone. They need to maintain the same focus against the Rainmakers’ man defense. They also need to work at their usual pace; during the first half of the game last week it seemed they were trying to emulate the Rainmakers’ pas-pass-huck pattern of play. When the Dogfish focused on the connections that have been building over the season and capitalized on them through give-and-go runs, they were much more successful.

The Dogfish double team continues to be an effective tool. There were also a number of defensive blocks that put the disc back into Dogfish hands. (Unfortunately, many of these Ds were in response to throwaways on offense.) Despite the breezy conditions, Seattle broke out the hammer regularly last week, including Matt Rehder’s half-field throw near the end of the first quarter. This is something the Dogfish will need to look for if the conditions are calmer in Seattle.

The Rainmakers gave as good as they got on man defense. They had an impressive number of layout bids and blocks but, like the Dogfish, relied on that defense to get them back in the game after initial turnovers of their own making. Seattle’s zone is a different story. It looked a bit uncertain last weekend, and either needs to be tightened up or transition more smoothly to a man-to-man defensive approach.

Once they were up on the Dogfish, the Rainmakers relaxed on offense. Instead of keeping themselves confined to one half of the field to make two or three throws and then hucking, they were swinging wide and looking more confident with the disc.  As the Dogfish rallied for a comeback it appeared to rattle the Rainmakers, who dropped two pulls in the fourth quarter. The Rainmakers need to find a way to keep the calm they feel when they’re ahead from turning into complacency if they want to keep the Dogfish down.

The Dogfish go into this game with a slight psychological edge, having pulled off one-point wins after being down by five in both prior matchups. But on Sunday they’ll be facing the Rainmakers for the first time in Seattle. Instead of the supportive San Francisco fans that have helped them create a comeback in their last two showings, the Dogfish will have to tune out Seattle’s “Purple Rainmakers” game theme in order to seal another victory before the teams meet one last time in San Francisco for the June 29 playoffs.

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