Photo by Scobel Wiggins – UltiPhotos.com
These Don’t Lie
I’ve literally never seen anything like this. And, as you can tell by the elated responses from players and fans, neither had anyone else. What has gone a trifle overlooked is the excellent awareness by Johnson, Ferraro and Salmi. For Johnson it is the knowledge that there is enough space to confidently attempt this without risking a Rumble ripping the disc out of its skyward revelry. For Ferraro and Salmi, it is the commitment to helping the Current finish what Johnson started. Imagine just how ultimate it would have been if Johnson advanced the disc all the way down near the end zone only for the disc to find its way into a turnover simply due to a stranded thrower. Instead, while it goes down in the books as merely a block and a second assist for Johnson, the Current’s offensive rotation did everything necessary to earn a goal. Considering that the game ended as a one-point Current victory, this was a vital team effort.
There were three significant changes in the MLU career record book in Boston on Saturday:
Perston is a one-of-a-kind receiving threat. He’s tall, very fast, and tireless (or at least just keeps going and going and going when he’s tired). If you put pressure on him as a thrower (the weakest part of this game), he’ll just use your aggression against you by completing a short pass and then accelerating away from the mark toward the end zone. His first five long strides are enough to create separation, and his speed and height are sufficient to prevent the defense from closing to the disc. He’s even climbed Mount Hibbert.
Hibbert’s previous record of 45 blocks has been surpassed by Hatchett whose defensive style is based on the premise that he can’t get a block if the man he’s covering doesn’t look open. That’s just the first step, however, as Hatchett’s closing speed and leaping ability allow him to close the space quickly enough to get the block rather than just getting into the picture. To add on, he’ll register a demonstrative kick block on the mark now and again.
Bjorklund, while also a very strong downfield threat (71 goals), is truly dangerous with the disc in his hands. His flick, which has an unusual hitch before its release (which reminds me of the effectiveness of Jim Furyk’s golf swing or Reggie Miller’s jumper), is one of the most versatile deep looks in the game. This is in large part because it is a consistently controlled outside-in huck which speeds past the defense and then banks in toward the receiver. His timing as a cutter and readiness to throw deep immediately after the catch have put him in position to use his flick (and hammer, for that matter) to deliver the disc to any number of threatening Stags receivers, Perston chief amongst them.
Each of these players also has a certain magnetism as players during the game. Bjorklund because he’s the centerpiece of an offense which perfectly showcases his skills. Hatchett because he’s near-always gambling with his positioning to create a block opportunity. Perston because his constant show of force as a deep cutter tests every defender in the league.
Congratulations are in order to all of these players, and when you next watch them play, let your eyes settle as you watch them go to work.
… and Terry Roth was the most recent victim.
These Do Lie
The Fate of the Nighthawks
All season they’ve played poorly, but have been steadily improving. While I was sure they’d win a game this season, I was not so certain that it would come in this matchup. I was expecting that they would cobble something together against a team who was already in or out of the playoffs. I (and most of the rest of the “experts” who pick games) was wrong. It did take bonus frisbee to cement the victory, but it is a victory nonetheless. Strong works, ‘Hawks!
That being said, there was one clear error in this game. This is quite clearly a goal. Since it was in double overtime, it was properly a game-winning goal. Good on the Dogfish for not letting their heads explode live on the broadcast like in Scanners and instead getting back to the business of playing. Bad on the refs for missing this call, with a bonus demerit for not moving the pylon out of the way for the players.
While there is nothing to be done about the result of the game, there should be an official acknowledgement of the error in addition to the usual review process that the referees go through every week.
This play, no matter how awful it looked live, should not be a band. Foster is tracking the disc coming over his shoulder. He’s less than a yard from Matt Melius by the time Melius is visible and levitating in front of Foster. There was literally nothing else Foster could have done, and Foster was playing wholly rational defense. At first, I thought that Melius had no play at all on the disc, upon further review he *might* have. So, there is support for a foul call, but a band? As with the Dogfish, all credit to Foster for remaining calm in the moment.
Overloading the strong side against Boston is not an effective strategy, as Portland learned last weekend.
Portland overloads the on the near side of the field, Chan reads the defense and swings the disc out to the far side to attack through Taylor, whose defender was caught taking steps to the near side of the field. Reading your defense and attacking its weakness is a strength of Boston.
Similarly, the Whitecaps learned what “Getting Woodsided” means on their very first possession of the game.
The huck goes up from Taylor deep in the Whitecaps own end zone to Chan who is raising his hand and asking for the rip. However, Woodside is in the center of the field covering Kittross-Schnell. Both Kittross-Schnell and Woodside get to the floating disc, but Woodside comes over the top and gets his hand on the disc before anyone else has a play. This leads to a Portland first possession break, and an early hole for the Whitecaps to climb out of.
Terry Roth is making those sleeves look like children’s soccer jerseys. Maybe rugby players are smaller than I think?
Midfield Heave(s) as Time Expires:
The Whitecaps possession starts well out of the end zone despite the midfield pull because the Stags failed to hit the field on their midfield pull. The Whitecaps then run through some dump-swing iterations before Inselmann heaves the disc downfield to Katz who turns and fires a goal to Thallon nearly sight unseen. Given that the Stags second half comeback fell one point short, this is precisely the sort of play which can change a game.
However, the play that truly kept the Whitecaps on top was the final Stags possession of the game:
The Stags, after a stoppage for a foul, start from inside their own end zone with 26 seconds to score. What comes next is a sufficiently solid handful of passes to get to within comfortable throwing range of the end zone. However, the overall effect of the way the Stags worked to this position left them without a truly threatening option at the end of the game as there was only one Stag in the end zone compared to three Whitecaps defenders. On top of that, Suppnick overthrows the whole of the field with an uncatchable rip out the back of the end zone.
Not good. Bjorklund’s raised arms and momentary Surrender Cobra say it all. That was a a chance to send the game into overtime and possibly regain some dignity for the West. Instead, the Stags lose in regulation and the West drops to 0-5 against the East.