Photo by Scobel Wiggins –

 14 – 17 

The cold ending belied the burst of earned optimism of the D.C. Current as they opened this de facto playoff game with three consecutive breaks over the first 3:45 seconds of play. Thirty seconds later, D.C. has the disc to go up 4-0 when Freddy Tsai misses to Tim Jackson very near the end zone that the Spinners are attacking. Six passes and 27 seconds later Nick Hirannet scores the drought-breaker for Philadelphia’s offense. The Spinners would not would not concede another break until 3:30 left in third quarter.A key dose of stress for the losing offense: 7-77:09-3:37, Philly timeout, 3:37-2:07 5:02 in game time. Always better to be on defense during long points.The plays which made the difference in the game:End of first quarter catch by Billy Sickles. End of second quarter second throw (Lloyd Blake) turf for D.C., dropped goal by Philly (Jack Casey), throwaway by D.C. (Markham Shofner). End of third quarter throwaway by Seth Wiggins.The final score difference was three points.While those quarter-ending sequences set the stage, this sequence finished the door: 1:58:51. Whether fouled or poorly thrown, this throw from Nicky Spiva needed to be not-crap. Seconds later, Jake Rainwater puts up a huge crossfield backhand to change field position which puts Philly into a holding pattern until Rainwater scores.Philadelphia finally finds their first MLU playoff bid. In this game, their defense converted four breaks in the second quarter alone while their offense, as they have all season, held up. 

 13 – 21 

San Francisco led 4-3. Vancouver scored the next two points and San Francisco would never again tie, let alone lead. While the size mismatch is not as overwhelming as in Portland vs. Seattle, the Vancouver advantage over San Francisco has a similar effect on margins to win or lose the game.This game was a slow dissolution of any confidence that the Dogfish had coming into the contest. It wasn’t so much that the Nighthawks took the game (Although there were some nice blocks (Including Dave Hochhalter’s five and strong plays and all of that) it was more that the Dogfish were not up to the task of playing this game as a full team for the duration. Of the 21 Dogfish who played in this game, only three – Taylor Cascino (17/18, 94.4%), Michael McGuirk (18/20, 90%), Gabe Saunkeah (23/25, 92.0%) – attempted at least ten passes and completed over 90 percent of those passes. Six Dogfish combined to go 26/26, but only two attempted a many as eight passes. No one else was above 90 percent.That’s a team-level failure which did not set them up for success on the following day. 

 12 – 25 

New York started this game with a break opportunity 2:55 seconds into the game, opening D-point, as John Wodatch catches the disc 33 yards out of his own end zone. Wodatch proceeds to take a difficult (but eminently completable) crossfield flick which sails well over his receiver’s head and directly to Jeff Graham. Nine passes later, Boston is up 1-0.New York would never lead or tie the game.The best/worst play of the game. Thrower asks for a foul, dives, does not travel. Markers both appeal for a travel. Play continues. Stall called. Worst because the players are all begging the ref. Best because the refs just kept the game going. Worst because this whole sequence is a lesson in the aesthetics of the absurd. Best because same.It was also a bit of a constant in this game as a three-party contest broke out with New York vs. Boston, Boston vs. New York and New York vs. Refs. Whether the officials have earned the ire or not, waging a two-front war requires more resources. The Rumble have not shown the surfeit of resources necessary to extend themselves in such a fashion. 

 21 – 29 

A messy game like the D.C. vs. Philly game, and clearly caused in part by variable wind conditions, and yet both teams were up to the task of putting 50 total points on the board. The thing is, San Francisco was down 8-4 by the end of the opening quarter and dropped the third quarter to the tune of 9-4. That’s 17-8 over two quarters of a game so it doesn’t really matter that the Dogfish were up 13-12 in the even-numbered quarters.I hope that enough Seattle fans travel to their playoff matchup with the Stags that we get to hear more of the “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN…DROP!” cheer during the Seattle pulls. I think that has taken a spot at the top of “My favorite MLU cheers” list.This game was a dead-man-walking scenario. San Francisco was already done for the playoffs. Seattle was at home. San Francisco was on the second game of the weekend (MLU teams are now a combined 0-6 on double-game weekends). Seattle was fresh and fully rostered.And there was a spark of the familiar failings by the Dogfish. Of the twelve players who threw at least 10 passes, only six completed over 90 percent of said passes.The Dogfish did not pack up camp and go home, as they were still trying to manipulate the clock with short pulls late in the game, and were giving full effort throughout the weekend, but they were not up to the consistent quality of Seattle or Portland over the course of the season. 

Seven On & On Anon…

1. Seattle is a Different Team… …when Khalif El-Salaam and Mark Burton are on the field together. They compliment each other well as cutters when someone else has the disc, and they each seem to be the first look for the other when either has the disc. Seattle is solid without them, but with them, Seattle can keep scoring pace with any team in the league.2. Maybe it is just because I’m medium size and I don’t understand what it is like to be tall, but shouldn’t Joe Anderson (Yes it is different when Anderson is on D) and Lloyd Blake stop waiting and just put a roof over the tiny hobbit-houses their opponents must live in? And again. Are tall folks just not used to having to try to out-leap their opponents on the run?3. Baer working break hucks again. Just like Last Week.4. I like the idea of the sky-high midfield pull… I would certainly try it as a player. But released at anything short of the correct angle, or with any significant misinterpretation of the wind, and you’re stuck pulling out of bounds. From midfield. Which is both sad and a waste of an opportunity. I like seeing players challenged to do new things, but I expected them to take to this more quickly.5. Throwing a tipped pass which is caught is one thing. Catching a tipped pass is another thing. Getting a point block on a hammer is a third thing. This play is like the Long Island iced tea of ultimate. It sounds exciting, it has everything in one tidy package, and yet it leaves the lingering impression that everything is broken.6. Give Me The Disc, Small Man This is what I mean by the margins of error growing or shrinking commensurate with physical size.7. I presume there is a play-call here off of the stoppage …but the spacing here is wild. No downfield Nighthawk within 15 yards of the thrower! By four seconds later no downfield player within 20 yards of the thrower! This is followed by a reset which loses yards. Though they could be pulling the defense in before breaking out (And Vancouver did score on this possession), the way it plays out on the screen sure feels like abandoning the thrower.

Midfield Heave as Time Expires

Ends of quarters and tipped discs can be the difference between winning and losing. Between living and dying.

About The Author

Dusty played college ultimate for New York University from 1998-2002, captaining for his final three years. From 2003-2009 he filled various roles for New Jersey's Pike from deepest bench to O-line cutter, D-line handler, O-line handler, and captain before concluding his club career with an opportunity in 2010 to represent New York City on PoNY's D-line. While never qualifying for college regionals, Rhodes played at six Club Nationals in the Open Division (finishing from dead last to tied for third) and coached Drew University to a fifth place college regional finish in 2005. Dusty earned a degree in English and American Literature from NYU and spent all of his remaining energy playing pickup basketball and writing for NYU's Washington Square News.

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