Photo by Scobel Wiggins – UltiPhotos.com
24 – 31
New York’s offense played a good game.
They had a down run at the end of the first quarter in which they conceded the only long defensive run of the game, but even that stretch was a hiccough. On the whole, their offense was strong and consistent. That this is notable is not good.
A large part of that consistency was the evident disdain with which Robbie Gillies treated defenders on the evening. His ability to secure catches under duress kept the Rumble on track.
The other notable constant in this game was the offensive presence of Tyler Chan for Boston. The numbers, the video and the in-game-experience all back it up: Chan on the shortlist for Rookie of the Year.
In both cases, these downfield cutters were the most visible pieces of the game as they consistently struck for large gains on away cuts. In Chan’s case, he added eight assists to his team-high five goals while stretching his range out as a thrower in MLU play. In Gillies’ case, he earned his game-high seven goals on 12 catches. There need be no more said about that sort of Chris Carter ratio.
The truly telling overall numbers for this game was that there were only two Whitecaps (Josh Markette – 35/37 and Adrian Banerji – 4/6) and three Rumble (Chris Mazur – 20/23, Ben Faust – 13/15, Tim MacGougan – 22/27) who threw more than a single incompletion. The pace of this game was breakneck throughout as the teams combined for 55 points in 40 minutes of play.
While the result leaves New York wanting the win which has been long since necessary, if their offense can keep pace with opponents for the remainder of the season, the games will be continually high-scoring. If their defense can convert a couple consecutive breaks in one of those games, New York could still notch another win or two before the season ends.
11 – 23
Portland was at their finest again when they were attacking after forcing a turn. Whether on an offensive or defensive point, the Stags were keen to take advantage of the transition period from defense to offense.
This was characteristic of the last two MLU champions in Boston and D.C. They both relentlessly attacked on offense after your errors. Their styles of attack were dissimilar in design, but were similar in effect. The one way or another, the block must be converted into a goal. Boston in 2013 so rarely re-gifted the disc that their strength was the building of foreboding momentum over the course of a game. D.C. in 2014 attacked so fully, aggressively and quickly that their defensive possessions routinely netted at least a shot into the end zone if not an actual goal. and there was almost no way to anticipate which player would be responsible for the goal or the assist.
In the case of Portland, they tend to straight Woodside their opponents for defensive goals. However, it is their offensive line’s transition offense which made more impact plays early this past week:
San Francisco has the disc on a break possession and Topher Davis gets a block on crossfield cut about 10 yards from the end zone the Dogfish are attacking. Portland picks up the disc, completes one pass upfield and hucks to Timmy Perston in the other end zone in between two defenders (And with three other Stags as a convoy) for a goal. The goal puts Portland up 8-7 with 2:04 left in the first half when they could have been down 7-8.
This is very much what the Current were adept at last season: They generated blocks and attacked on the break after the offensive side earned the disc back. This team-level resiliency is key to success in ultimate.
A perfect play at this moment which leaves no doubt in your team’s superiority strikes a mental blow a well as tallying a goal.
26 – 24
On the reception, the closest player to Trey Katzenbach is sporting the black & bars of the Current in Eric Miner at 12 yards. Miner does an excellent job of taking Nick Hirannet away as the first centering pass by either reading Katzenbach or knowing Philly’s tendencies. Or both.
Certainly, this is solid defense, but the offensive structure remains either flawed or poorly executed.
From imperfect positioning to perfect positioning:
This is ideal anticipation of the deflection of the disc. The outside-in backhand (particularly one arriving at speed) is most likely to tip off of a player’s hand forward toward the back of the end zone. This is the second tipped-disc end of quarter score for D.C. in this half, though only Calvin Oung was lauded with the Offensive Play of the Week:
Great work by Chuck Cantone to execute just as strong and impactful a catch as Oung in the very same half. Not sure why there was not a second Spinners defender present. As a defender you simply need to trail these plays whether or not there will be a tip. This will come up again below, but these are the plays which convert losses to wins.
28 – 26
The Rainmakers fans traveled well to Vancouver. The only other fanbase I’ve seen/heard travel well was the D.C. Current to the 2014 Championship game in Philly. Different circumstances, sure, but the Nighthawks must feel like the mark in some ominously vindictive strain of anti-North-Northern American con game. In this instance, the Rainmakers fans made themselves heard repeatedly throughout the game during pulls and many other moments in which the home crowd was being neglectful of the Nighthawks.
In addition to traveling with fans in their checked luggage, the Rainmakers will need to continue to keep their deep game in their carry-on for road trips. When Seattle is either breaking down or simply beating coverage to produce good deep looks, they have a sufficient number of throwers to end the point and tally the score.
This ability is what keeps their defense on the field for enough time to convert their break opportunities. The shorter a team’s offensive points are, the less rest provided to their opponent’s offense. It is clearly not a hard and fast rule that shorter points are better, but the length of offensive points (both scores and breaks) are good to keep in mind when considering why and when offenses surrender consecutive break goals.
To return to “goals at the end of periods,” at the close of the first quarter, Vancouver really should’ve scored. There were multiple Nighthawks who were positioned well for deflections as well as making an initial attempt of the disc. These opportunities can never be wholly anticipated, but they must be prepared for as best as possible as it is these moments of athleticism, coordination and focus which can win or lose the game.
Seven On & On Anon…
1. That Hibbert Didn’t go Crazy, That Hibbert Went Hibbert
With 1:10 left ahead by one, Seattle pulls the disc. Vancouver centers the disc and then completes a lane pass to Hibbert. Hibbert launches a 60-yard huck to Charles Eyrich from 61 yards out. Hibbert trucks downfield and gets the disc back for the goal. This knotted the score at 27-27 with 51 seconds remaining in the game.
2. Not all Vertical Stacks are Created Equal
This is the same setup that, as far as the video shows, looks just like the Portland offense from a week ago. The difference between the Spinners and the Stags is that in this situation we would see Portland complete a 20-yard gainer. In Philly’s case? Timeout. The spacing from thrower to the front of the stack is key for most teams.
3. More Tools in the Toolkit, Part 1
This is why having more tools in your toolbox makes a difference. Khalif El-Salaam catches the disc eight yards out from the end zone. He is immediately double-teamed. he double acts aggressively and takes away the easy reset option, leaving El-Salaam to pivot upfield away from pressure. As he does so, he sees Mark Burton being faceguarded in the end zone. Burton is giving a hand signal that he wants the disc to his right and to the blind side of the defender. If El-Salaam takes the extra fraction of a second to switch the disc to his righty flick, he will not be able to deliver the pass on time. Instead, he immediately throws an inside-out lefty backhand for a goal. If El-Salaam didn’t have a lefty backhand, he would not have rid himself of the disc before the double recovered to limit his upfield options. The puzzle you’re given to solve as a thrower changes over time as the stall climbs. The more weapons you have, the better.
4. That Was a Better Throw Than You Acted.
Jeff Wodatch displays great touch on this assist to Oung. This is one of the key threats of D.C.’s offense which gets less credit than other pieces of their attack (Obligatory name-drop of Alan Kolick & Peter Prial). Everyone on their offensive rotation can put the disc out for a goal if presented a solid target. Wodatch is often referred to as a cutter more than a thrower though the soft outside in bank on this assist is the perfect illustration of how player versatility enhances any offense.
5. More Tools In the Toolkit, Part 2
Hibbert reels in a huck, and immediately executes the following sequence: Fake lefty flick upfield, fake lefty backhand upfield (defender bites completely on both), pivots backfield in neutral stance, steps with left foot directly at second defender, fake lefty backhand, throws a righty backhand reset. We see this set of fakes and throws from him on a near-weekly basis, and a subset of some of these throws from other players around the league. It often goes unnoticed as the execution of the throws is more or less the same, and folks who are newer to ultimate may not even realize that this is a relatively recent development in the game on a broad scale. However, the differences in execution and base sets of throws for each players are still wide which provides for a good contrast of styles.
6. Should’ve Seen That Coming
The disc bounces off of the crossbar before the 6-foot-5 Lloyd Blake can make a play! Football’s off-field geometry does not always accommodate for ultimate.
7. Another Philly Loss to D.C….
…And another situation in which their volume of throwers who completed 100 percent of their passes was 10 players for 52 passes. Week 1: Seven players for 21. In Philly victories, this group of 100 percent players is much larger and contains far more passes. The only team which has beaten the Spinners this season is the D.C. Current, and they have done so largely on their ability to disrupt the core of Philly’s offense.
Midfield Heave as Time Expires
Breaking scouting news for East Coast defenders: Teddy Browar-Jarus is left handed.