Photo by Scobel Wiggins –

 13 – 26 

The baseline story is that these two teams played for home field advantage in the playoffs.

The second-level story of this game is that just shifting just a couple folks around while missing a few players (Leon Chou, Nick Purifico, Patrick Lindsey) and moving Dave Baer to O-line, the Spinners were off of their game. Their offense was a feast of unforced errors which when mixed with Boston’s physical pressure near the disc resulted in an embarrassing end to the regular season for Philadelphia. If this is a sign of how small the margin for error is in Philadelphia, their chances for playing a home championship game are quite slim.

Philly down 4-5 pulling with 1:01 left. If you keep watching, you’ll see that they go into the second quarter up 6-5!

Then again, this was pretty much the end of hope for the Spinners.

The rest of the game, featured short turnovers from Philly, just as the first quarter did. This has been their Achilles’ Heel for the duration of the MLU. Short turnovers are such gifts to your opponent in that you’re not just giving them the disc, but also granting them positive field position. Against Boston this type of play cannot stand as their end zone offense is brutally efficient. It isn’t just in the reset portion of the Philly offense which leads to these short turns, but also the short under cuts which Boston read well and set up for blocks or near-blocks.

The game is effectively over as soon as the second quarter starts. The Whitecaps score five straight breaks to start the second quarter and take it to 10-6, then Philly got to 10-8 but Boston scored two before half to make it 12-8.The Spinners never again got within four points.

One of the key problems for Philly over the season has been a lack of clarity on offense.

This is a pitch perfect display: Baer centers to Nick Hirannet, followed by Matt Glazer cutting across the field, Ben Scharadin making an in-cut and Trey Katzenbach standing and watching. By the time Glazer drops this disc (which may or may not have been intended for him), there are three Philly players within five yards of each other. Soon Boston would be up 14-8.

It was already over. The only question here is how much the return of a fuller defensive roster will help the Spinners in the playoffs.


 15 – 17 

Vancouver has suffered from a similar lack of clarity all throughout their season. It is not as though their offense never works smoothly, but that their offense was continually, when breaking down, very much like the Philly offense in which there are multiple players cutting to the same space:

Jump to 24:12. One completed pass and then three, no two Nighthawks cutting to the same space at the same time and no other declared options. Turnover.

This is just indecision and not being on the same page. Vancouver has shown they have better talent than this, but that they are not always on the same offensive page.

This game had many floaty passes on either side and yet despite all of this, Vancouver went up 13-12 after three.

Then a familiar error returned to the party at 45:18. Portland ties it 13-13 on a quick transition to offense after Vancouver has three players cutting near a turfed disc. A Moment of Un-Clarity.

And then Portland went up 14-13 after slogging through a three-minute, 11-second break point at 45:42 in which was 9:28 – 6:17 in game time. As we frequently mention in this space, having your offensive line out on the field for the longer points tends to result in a loss as most offensive rotations are smaller than defensive rotations.

Of course Portland, to end the game, put it just out of reach in a characteristic fashion:

Jump to 55:00. Levi Jeske drops an in-cut. Portland hammer to Dan Shaw. Stags up two with 2:32 remaining.

Vancouver played well enough to be tied late with the top regular season team in the MLU, but a couple of errors and wasted opportunities make all of the difference.


 23 – 11 

Bland offense for D.C., very intentionally vanilla. Lots of players in different combinations, no heavy doses of anyone. Well, there was Chuck Cantone leading the board at 19 points played. But he was an outlier.

Focus could well be back on how the game opened with a play on a defensive point from a traditional O-rotation player in Lloyd Blake:

Callahan by Blake at 1-1 puts it at 2-1, D.C. converts on offense to make it 3-1 break to 4-1, break to 5-1, then New York scored. Then the first quarter broke at 8-2.

Game. Sometimes these things are well-near over early.

The story of this game could also be told in stats. D.C. completed 195 of 217 throws for 89.86 percent. New York completed 164 of 196 for 83.67 percent. D.C. completed 195 passes. New York attempted 196 passes. More than this, these two teams have been at the bottom of the completion rate bucket for the whole of the season. Fitting that the losing team was able to complete under 84 percent of passes attempted and the winner was unable to crack 90 percent.

More than that, the tale of this game was the distribution of playing time:

New York: Nine players with 10 or more offensive points. Only Joe Anderson (6) with more than three defensive points.
D.C.: Zero players with six or more offensive points. Only Cantone with 10 defensive points, only Brent Bellinger (4) with fewer than five. Only Danny Dennin (0) with fewer than two offensive points.

D.C. was committed to spreading playing time around. New York was still playing a largely separate O- and D-lines, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the D.C. D was more than their selection of offensive players could overcome.

That said:

Good team-level defense and communication by the Rumble here. #33 Jake Herman and #81 Sean Murray run the quick switch at the top of the stack which anticipates the multiple-clear from the top of D.C.’s stack. In essence, Herman is taking away the under to the center of the field while Murray takes away what the Rumble defense correctly presumes to be the primary cutting lane for the D.C. offense. Marques Brownlee has over coverage to start, the first reset is covered tightly and the thrower is double-teamed. (Not sure why the taller of the two New York defenders isn’t to the inside to pressure the hammer more.) Brownlee drives in with the deepest Current, which leads me to believe that the matchup not seen on the screen is likely to be a New York Rumble player behind his man with good vision of the thrower and tasked with providing over coverage as the play develops.

The poached player is either second or third in the stack, and if New York manages the space correctly, the Current will not be able to exploit this on the first throw.

Now, not sure why the Current didn’t get into a different play and the turnover is a reset execution error rather than a block by New York, but the defensive coverage by the Rumble was strong here.

I’ll leave you with this from that game:

Mazur made me smile with this throw and Markian Kuzmowycz adjusts perfectly to the low trajectory:

 20 – 19 

Some positive examples of Vancouver after I ragged on their negative performances earlier:

This point is a perfect positive example of Vancouver’s offensive style. Lots of space for two cutters down the far side of the field to start. Side stack pushed near, not in a literal line, but staggered. Each Vancouver player was being backed by his defender for the whole point. This is in part due to size (and The Hibbert Effect), and it is in part due to strategies of both the offense and the defense.

This point is indicative of their defense. The deepest defender is so deep that he’s off of the screen. The remainder of the Vancouver defenders attack the underneath options of the Rainmakers offense by playing tight underneath and by switching and poaching. No hucks are coming up the over top coverage from Vancouver is 20 yards deep of the thrower. All of this wholly flummoxes the Seattle offense, which results in an underneath block from the previous deepest Nighthawk.

This next minute and 44 seconds of ultimate is why the game is fun to watch:

– The Seattle offense is slashing and attacking and in a good rhythm ranging hither and yon across the field. It is well-balanced and aggressive yet not too risky for 11 throws to :56, and then a turfed easy backhand from Mark Burton.

– Vancouver moseys to the disc with :43 seconds left. Confident.

– :36: Vancouver throws it into a Seattle defense which has managed to internally communicate and create a poaching defense and very well-positioned plater to get a block on a non-hammer big swing.

– :33: Seattle rushes and throws it directly back to Vancouver.

– Vancouver works it to within 17 yards of the end zone without really having a single marked thrower as most of the Seattle defenders are sagging and conceding a ton of yardage on completions. Or running ineffective poaches.

– :03: Vancouver throw a cross-field hammer for a quarter-ending goal and a tie. This is a pretty much a perfect throw and good awareness by the receiver to make it a goal rather than a not-goal.

This point was emblematic of at least a glimpse of the style of each team. It resulted in a tied first quarter and required a lot of good execution, as well as errors and defensive plays of each team.

Quick hits on Seattle:
– More of Khalif El-Salaam on the defensive side (14 defensive points in this game vs 10 in previous five games).
Good work delivering this disc to the open space.
THAT is a “buttery” throw from Phan. Fundamentally pleasing.
– 58:45: In the words of Shaq, “That’s good feetwork.” This was a dangerous throw from El-Salaam made into a fantastic goal through feetwork of Burton.

But with the way this game ends, and really you should just watch it for yourself:

Rainmakers up 19-18 with 1:07

Of note: Who throws that last Vancouver goal of the season casually? Hibbert.

Of course.

Seven On & On Anon…

1. Give and Go-al, Part 1
Hibbert receives the under to start, and then keep your eye on him as he runs the great circle cut to the far side of the field and eventually breaks open as the rest of his team works it up the near side of the field pretty smoothly. This throw from Brendan Wong to a single (and poorly) covered Hibbert is a sign of a healthy offense.

2. Catching in a Crowd, Part 1
Great grab by Christian Foster. Found space from which to elevate in a crowd. D. Baer boxout from Ben Katz is vital as well. For the ensuing Whitecaps goal, there is a good chance that *someone* should sprint downfield to cover Sam Richardson. It looks like it should have been Jake Rainwater.

3. That was a better catch than you acted.
And in this case by “you” I mean “past-me in the booth.” The sound the crowd made was well worth it though.

4. Sickles lays out, then runs the wrong way around the offensive player.
I see this in the MLU on a weekly basis, and it always baffles me. It is far more advantageous to run around the backside of the player and be in position to stop the quick breakside look while stealing an opportunity to assess the field.

5. Give and Go-al, Part 2
Swing to Jeff Wodatch, and Tyler Monroe establishes inside position on his defender. Wodatch sends it upfield to Tom Doi, who is ahead of Monroe. Monroe takes off to the end zone and Doi delivers the easy assist. That’s a great throw and go to the goal from Monroe.

6. Catching in a Crowd, Part 2
Textbook way to make space for yourself on offense: Take a two-step into your jump, go up high and come down with the disc. John Wodatch has proven his worth in situations like this over the whole of the season. The rest of his game still requires refinement, but his ability to get his team out of tight spots is notable.

7. 3:59 in Nighthawks vs. Stags

Midfield Heave as Time Expires

We talking ’bout playoffs.