Tomorrow the San Francisco Dogfish welcome the Portland Stags to Yellowjacket Stadium in Berkeley. Both teams are 1-0, making this the first opportunity to have a leader in the Western Conference.
Steady As She Goes
The Stags have an impressive return rate on their roster, with only six players who are new to the team. Returning players include Cody Bjorklund, Eli Friedman and Topher Davis. Bjorklund led the team in points last year with 41, and was in the MLU top five for goals with 26, and Topher Davis was second in the league for defense with 17. With so much consistency and the touted return of 2013 wunderkind Timmy Perston, Portland is a strong contender for the conference title they missed last year.
Despite a 2-8 record last year, the Dogfish didn’t falter when they remembered to play their game: vicious, high-energy defense and controlled, patient offense. They showed fans—and the Nighthawks—that side of their play last weekend. The skills, spirit and crowd support are all there, the Dogfish just need to ride the wave and not get down if they fall behind or get complacent when they’re in the lead on Sunday.
Mind the Gap
The Stags went from a first-season record of 1-9 to an 8-2 showing in 2014. Part of that success was pure points vigilance. They went up on their opponents, and they didn’t panic or rush to widen the differential. Instead, they were happy to trade points until they walked into a win or lull their opponents while they pulled ahead and left no time to catch up.
The Dogfish had the same calm confidence in their game last week against the Nighthawks, and when they went down they immediately rallied back to regain the lead. But Portland had a 9-point win over Seattle last week compared to San Francisco’s 1-point victory over Vancouver. The Dogfish will need to heighten their vigilance and energy on offense to avoid the come-from-behind scenario that marked most of their matchups with the Stags last season.
Mother Nature’s Mercy
It wouldn’t be the Bay Area without some weather. Sunday looks to be warm and sunny, with winds picking up right around game time. The Stags had a lot of big throws and big runs for scores in their game last week. The Berkeley breeze showed it can go either way with that approach, so expect some long runs, air battles and drops. The Stags are down a significant number of players this week, including offensive stalwart Friedman, so they’ll need to show their skills on swings and smart passes in case the big bombs are duds. The Dogfish need to keep their defensive intensity then flip the switch and focus on possession to show they can manage this herd.
Don’t miss a minute! Game starts at 2 p.m. and you can buy your tickets here.