The San Francisco Dogfish beat the Seattle Rainmakers 16-14 Saturday night at home in Kezar Stadium. The Dogfish were down early but half-time adjustments and a deep roster allowed them to pull out a win.
San Francisco was a narrow favorite as the home team, but the in first quarter Seattle looked sharper and got a pair of breaks to go up 1-4. Evan Boucher and Drew Kim kept San Francisco in the game early combining on a pair of long throws for scores, and the quarter ended with Rainmakers up 4-5.
In the second quarter, Rainmaker handler line of Danny Karlinsky, Adam Simon and Mario O’Brien got it going and made quick work of a couple of Dogfish turns to push the count to 5-9. The last point of the first half spanned five minutes and featured 7 turns and a timeout by each team before the Rainmakers would score to go into halftime up 5-10.
In the second half, the Dogfish came out with a lot of energy and worked their way back into the game. Boucher threw long right away to Jordan Jeffery in a crowd. Jeffery came down with the disk but was called out at the back of the endzone. The Dogfish would eventually get the disk back on a Kevin Smith point block and convert for a score, 6-10.
With the Rainmakers having to go up-wind on the next point, the Dogfish brought a zone defense that finally slowed the Rainmaker handlers. Seattle stayed patient and scored the first up-winder to go up 6-11, but on ensuing points the Dogfish zone generated three breaks and San Francisco went into the final period only trailing 11-12.
The result of the coin toss in the beginning of the game meant the Dogfish had the option to choose possession or side in the fourth quarter and naturally they chose to receive. Drew Kim threw a long up-winder to Boucher that Boucher read well, and boxing out his defender Boucher scored to tie the game at 12s. Rainmakers would have chances to break back during the next few points but would have a pair of uncharacteristic drops.
To tie the game at 14s, Dogfish handler Cassidy Rasmussen came out of a time-out and threw a beautiful break-mark backhand into space to Will Chen. Chen had started the play at the dump position, behind Rasmussen, and he simply broke into a run at stall 3. Asked if that was a drawn-up play, Chen said “I just ran into the space because it was open – that goal was entirely Cassidy.”
The break that gave the Dogfish their first lead of the game was another five-turn hell-point, with Devon Anderson finally outworking his defender to score on another key throw from Rasmussen. Dogfish ran the zone yet again on the next pull, with the Rainmakers going downwind, and the result was a high stall count hammer that bladed short. Sam Kanner then hit Russ Wynne to go up 16-14 with about a minute left in the game. Rainmakers came out hucking against the clock and Dogfish Alex Brammer caught a disk in a crowd to seal the deal for the Dogfish.
Both teams played without a handful of their top players who were involved in Ultimate outreach programs overseas this weekend, and the story leading up to the game was which team would make better adjustments with their depleted rosters. Seattle appeared to have made the decision to tighten up their rotation and rely on their veteran core. Karlinsky, Simon, O’Brien were firing on all cylinders in the first half and the team got big contributions throughout the game from Sam Harkness and Adam Holt.
As the game wore on, however, San Francisco’s deeper roster started to take a toll on Seattle. During the third-quarter Dogfish run the Rainmakers ran the same lines on consecutive points while San Francisco Coach Justin Safdie was going wholesale with his rotations. Not only could Safdie depend on a high-level of play from known quantities like Rasmussen, Anderson, Wynne and Kanner, the Dogfish were able to rely heavily on newcomers David Abram and Adam Farren, as well as practice players called up to fill in roster spots: Brammer, Gary Dixon, James Hansell and Sam Adamson.
These teams meet again in June in Seattle. It is hard to imagine a better game than the one just played, but with both teams at full strength the next time they meet, we can surely expect another battle.