Each week, the Dogfish will give you an unbiased peek into the rest of the league. Week one saw a couple of upsets and a couple of great rivalries formed, but most importantly, an exciting turnout of Ultimate fans across the country.
1. Philadelphia Spinners (1-0): The Spinners are definitely poised for a strong 2013 campaign. They have the experience, as they are the only team that has played professional Ultimate prior to this season (2012 AUDL Champions). They have the talent, with defensive cutter Sean Murray who is considered “virtually uncoverable” downfield, and offensive forces Nick Hirannet and Trey Katzenbach. In their first game, the Spinners exemplified that experience, stealing one from their new rivals, the DC Current, on DC’s own turf. However, an improved field of competition, adapting to different rules, and the “targets on their backs” will surely test them this season.
2. San Francisco Dogfish (1-0): The Dogfish did not disappoint in their highly anticipated debut. The ‘Fish drew an impressive crowd on opening day, and while they were shaky at times, they played their best when it counted most and came away with a solid victory. The windy conditions at Boxer Stadium forced a lot of short yardage plays, which might have altered the Dogfish game plan, which is usually built around star cutters Beau Kittredge and Mac Taylor, but they adapted nicely and showed why they are the team to beat in the West.
3. Seattle Rainmakers (1-0): After handily beating the Stags in a preseason game, the Rainmakers showed they are one of the top teams in the league in the first regular season contest. They jumped out to a huge lead against the Nighthawks, but lost focus in the 4th quarter, and let Vancouver make it a close game. However, they are under the helm of very knowledgeable coach and player Ben Wiggins, and have a very talented offense and well-crafted defense. Without a doubt, the Rainmakers should be vying for the title in 2013.
4. Boston Whitecaps (1-0): After last week’s tragic events shook the city, the Whitecaps set out to change the tone for Boston fans. Along with a high-powered offense that scored a league-leading 19 goals, and a timely defense, the Whitecaps came away with a hard-fought win against their rivals, the Rumble. It is clear that many of the Whitecaps players retain their chemistry from their club days with Ironside. With speedy cutters including Danny Clark and Josh Markette, and strong-wristed handlers like Brandon “Muffin” Malecek, the Whitecaps are poised to strongly compete for the championship.
5. DC Current (0-1): Losing their debut at home was obviously not the ideal scenario for the talented Current. They were unlucky in that they had to face the experienced Spinners, but the tough test will surely help them moving forward. They should get back on track in Week 2 at home against the Whitecaps. It’s hard to foresee DC, with their very talented roster, including cutter Sean Keegan and defensive stud Dan Kantor, slipping any further down in the standings.
6. New York Rumble (0-1): In a preseason game against the Spinners, the Rumble were blown out 27-14. Rumble captain Ben Faust recognized the handed defeat, but saw the potential to improve upon the poor showing. They changed their practice routine to mimic the intensity of an MLU game, and in Week 1, the Rumble showed they could adapt and compete with a stronger Whitecaps team. They were heckled by the Boston fans but kept their cool, and kept the game close until the final whistle. The Rumble should keep improving as the season progresses, and could challenge one of the strong Eastern conference teams for a playoff spot.
7. Vancouver Nighthawks (0-1): Co-captained by experienced and very talented handlers Mauro Ortiz and Oscar Pottinger, the team from north of the border will be a tough opponent for any team. Vancouver showed nice resolve against a strong Rainmakers team in Seattle. At one point in their game against Seattle, the ‘Hawks were down 14-6, but came screaming back with 6 consecutive points in the 4th quarter to make it a very close game. If they can stretch out their 4th quarter play to the entire game, the Nighthawks could be a scary sleeper team moving forward.
8. Portland Stags (0-1): A highly underrated team, the Stags showed they could compete with the top teams in the league with their strong effort against the Dogfish. Their offense is built around hucks and strong cutters like captain Cody Bjorklund, but the windy conditions in San Francisco made that game plan difficult. Also, after the game, Coach Justin Becker recognized the need for more conditioning in order to stick with teams by the 4th quarter. So with that improved workout routine, and more experience as the season progresses, the Stags should continue to be a challenge for any team in the West.