The San Francisco Dogfish lost their first game of the season to the Portland Stags Saturday night, 19-18, in Portland.
The Dogfish would lead practically the entire game but give up four scores in a row to the Stags in the final three minutes of play. The Stags’ Timmy Perston led the decisive rally with a pair of goals, allowing Portland to capitalize off some puzzling turnovers by the Dogfish offensive side.
The Stags started the game on offense and scored right away on a huck from Breeze Strout to Timmy Perston. The Dogfish got the first break of the game to go ahead 3-2 on a throw from James Pollard to Adam Farren. The teams went back and forth to end the first quarter tied at 4. On the final play of the quarter Dogfish defenders Lucas Dallmann and Devon Anderson went down in the endzone after stopping a Portland huck. Dallmann did not return to play in the game, but remained with the team on the sideline.
In the second quarter, Andrew Hagen got a layout D in the endzone to set up a second Dogfish break, a Nic Schlag scoober to Evan Boucher to go up 6-4. The teams traded points from there and with 38 seconds left in the half Jordan Jeffery completed a hammer to Eric Greenwood to put San Francisco up 9-7. The Dogfish hoped to go into halftime with a two point cushion, however, the Stags’ Jeremy Norden made a play to Cody Bjorklund with time running out to draw the Stags to 9-8.
After half the Stags turned it over on a long throw and Tyler Grant hit Andrew Hagen to put the Dogfish up 10-8. Momentum shifted towards the Stags about halfway through the third when the Dogfish would turn the disc over on a stall count and then drop a disc to let the Stags tie things up at 11s. The Dogfish led 13-12 with under 30 seconds left in the third quarter and would get the disc on a layout D by David Abram. Coach Justin Safdie called timeout to set up a play, but San Francisco was unable to punch it in before time expired.
The Dogfish started the fourth quarter on O and converted on a huck grab by Boucher to make it 14-12. They would maintain a slight cushion till the 5 minute mark when a turnover out of bounds would allow the Stags to tie the game at 15s on an amazing play. Ben McGinn threw a ridiculous hammer that Dogfish defender Eric Greenwood managed to smack away from the intended receiver, Khalif El-Salaam. El-Salaam luckily tipped the disc upward somehow as it went past him, and Tim Perston ended up making the catch.
The Dogfish would score the following point and then get a break around the 3 minute mark, using a timeout to set up a handler dominated series that ended with Will Chen hitting Drew Kim to go up 17-15. The Stags’ offensive side executed to make it 17-16. Then a pair of uncharacteristic mistakes ended up costing the Dogfish the game.
Shortly after receiving the pull at 17-16, the Dogfish threw a swing pass too high over a receiver, allowing Portland to tie, then made another unforced throwing error to allow Portland to take the lead 18-17. The Dogfish still had 52 seconds left to tie the game, but a catch-block by Riley Meinershagen led to another Stag break. The Dogfish would execute their last huck play perfectly to score the a goal as time expired, making the final score 19-18 Stags.
This was a big win for the Stags. Portland had lost four in a row to start the season, and the Dogfish were undefeated coming into this game. San Francisco was missing a few of their top players, but the Dogfish had not missed those players in making an impressive comeback to beat Seattle last weekend. They will be reluctant to use the absences as an excuse, knowing that they had control of this game.
The Portland win might be called shocking, but it’s not entirely surprising; the Stags are a talented group of athletes and it was only a matter of time before they put together a win. Despite the standings, Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco and Seattle may all be much closer than the wins and losses imply. Certainly the margin for error in the Western Conference is remarkably thin.