The San Francisco Dogfish beat the Vancouver Nighthawks 23-21 in Vancouver last night in front of over 1100 fans at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium. As with the first Dogfish vs. Nighthawks meeting in Vancouver in week 2, this was a tight back and forth game where the Nighthawks fell just short of forcing overtime in the closing minute.
The Dogfish defeated the Nighthawks by a comfortable margin in San Francisco in week 5, but that game was an aberration. When the Nighthawks have their full roster and the wind conditions don’t limit their throwers, Vancouver is a tough matchup for San Francisco. The Dogfish are probably glad they do not have to play in Thunderbird Stadium again this season.
Attendance numbers were high in Vancouver and the crowd was rowdy, bolstered by ultimate players and fans in town for Flowerbowl, an annual club ultimate tournament featuring over 35 teams from Canada and the Northwestern U.S.
The Dogfish got out to a fast start in the first quarter. D’s by Ryo Kawaoka and Russ Wynne coupled with Nighthawk miscues allowed the Dogfish to huck their way to a 4-1 lead. Nighthawk defender Erik Hunter got a D and then immediately went long, scoring a break to bring the Nightwaks to 5-4. The Nighthawks had a chance to tie at the end of the first quarter but Patrick Baylis got a stop for the Dogfish, and time ran out with the Dogfish up 6-5.
San Francisco started the second quarter on offense, but couldn’t convert hucks on the next series of points and gave their one-point cushion away. Oscar Pottinger came out of a timeout and hit Nick Menzies to put the Nighthawks up 7-6 for their first lead of the game. The Hawks couldn’t maintain control and allowed the Dogfish to go back up 8-7 on a throw from Martin Cochran to Will Chen. The Hawks tied again, but an offensive interference call on Nathan Dandurand kept the Nighthawks from taking another lead. Mac Taylor put up a couple of nice goal shots to get the Dogfish ahead 10-9, but the end of the half saw a surge by the Nighthawks, with Andy Collins getting a huge D on one point and a hammer for a score on the next in the closing seconds. The half ended with the Nighthawks leading 12-10.
The Dogfish started the second half on D and the Nighthawks went right down the field. Kirk Savage hucked to Pottinger who threw to Aaron Loach to make the score 13-10. The Dogfish recognized the game getting away from them and bored down on D. They pressured the Nighthawks into a series of huck turnovers and Mac Taylor went on a tear, throwing 3 goals over the next few points to tie the game at 14s. With just under five mintes left in the third the Dogfish would break to go up 15-14, with that series featuring a Cochran D followed by an amazing layout grab by Baylis on a huck from Jordan Jeffery. The teams would trade points and defensive plays through the rest of the third quarter, tying the score at 15, 16, 17 and 18.
The Dogfish won the contentious opening points of the fourth quarter on strong play from Drew Kim. Kim had a hand block and threw the score to Ashlin Joye that put the Dogfish up 20-18. The Dogfish scored again after a Nighthawk travel call, but Vancouver stars Savage, Pottinger and Hunter keyed the comeback to bring the Nighthawks to 21-20. Baylis hucked to Cochran to stretch the Dogfish lead again, but Savage hammered to Kevin Underhill to make the score 22-21 Dogfish with 53 seconds left in the game. The home crowd got wild, urging their team to get a stop, but the Dogfish handled the pressure and scored on a huck from Devon Anderson to Eric Greenwood. With 39 seconds left Vancouver took a couple of high risk shots but ran out of time. The Dogfish won 23-21.
The win puts San Francisco at 6-1, tied for the lead in the Western Conference with the Seattle Rainmakers. The win also guarantees the Dogfish will play in the Western Conference championships against Seattle, June 29th. The Dogfish have three games left this season, and play their final home game against Seattle next week at Kezar Stadium.