Photo by Pete Guion – Ultiphotos.com
As we look forward to the 2017 MLU Season, we’ve decided to remember some of our favorite moments from the 2016 season. We can highlight amazing catches, fantastic blocks and incredible throws all year long, but in this series, we will be looking back at the moments that may not have shown up on the highlight reel or the boxscore.
This week, Will Smolinski
of the Washington D.C. Current
shares his five favorite moments from the Current’s 2016 season:
1. Andrew Gravunder‘s Callahan against the Spinners – Late in the season, the Current travelled to Philadelphia for the third of four matchups with the Spinners in 2016. Despite a rough 1st quarter that saw the Spinners build a five goal lead, the Current rallied in the 2nd quarter, forcing a tie with just under 5 minutes to go in the half. After opening the quarter with a hold, the Current defense converted two breaks and we elected to use a timeout to pull from mid-field. With the Spinners pinned deep in their own territory, Gravunder, a rookie, laid out in the end zone to intercept an errant forehand for the Callahan. WATCH GAME
After getting outscored 9-4 in the 1st Quarter, the Current came storming back in the 2nd, entering the half trailing by a single goal, 11-10 (Photo by Sean Carpenter – Ultiphotos.com)
2. Delrico Johnson
“macking” the disc for an almost Callahan against New York – Looking to avenge our Week 3 loss at home to the Rumble, the Current hosted New York again late in the season. As the final minute of the 3rd quarter ticked away, the Rumble were marching downfield following a D.C. turnover, when the notoriously athletic Johnson, the 2016 Eastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year
, capitalized on a miscommunication by New York, smacking the disc backwards, sending it flying towards the D.C. end zone. As the disc floated 15 yards, Johnson “macked” the disc again, not taking possession of the until he caught it 30-plus yards from his original defensive play. The Current scored on the resulting possession, and won the game 17-16. WATCH GAME
3. The Final game of the season, going into halftime up against Philadelphia in front of our biggest crowd of the season – While the Current entered the final week of the regular season having already been eliminated from playoff contention, the young team most certainly had something to prove. At the end of the first year of our “Three Year Plan”, the Current had one final home game against the eventual MLU champions – The Philadelphia Spinners. With our usual home stadium closed for renovations, the Current’s season finale was played at Woodrow Wilson Stadium
, right in the heart of D.C., and the fans came out in force. Behind exceptional play from veterans Dom Gibson
and Lloyd Blake,
joined by rookies Antoine Davis
, Mark Flores
and Kyle Khalifa
, the Current fought to the final whistle, leading the Spinners for the majority of the game and only falling during the final seconds of play. WATCH GAME
Played at Woodrow Wilson Stadium in Washington, the Current’s final regular season game gave fans one heck of a show, with the Spinners edging out a win with 14 seconds left on the clock. (Photo by Pete Guion – Ultiphotos.com)
4. Over 100 Athletes at our Open Tryout, working with all of those players with so much promise. – While the Current saw a large amount of roster turnover following the 2015 season, the incredible numbers at our Open Tryout in February showed that the team would not be short of talent, as over 100 athletes from all over the District/Maryland/Virginia region showed up to prove their worth and earn a spot on the Current. Veterans and rookies alike ran drills, scrimmaged and showed us everything they had in them. While the majority were not able to be added to the roster, they made the decisions very tough.
The 2016 D.C. Current tryout drew over 100 athletes from Washington, Newport News, Richmond, Harrisonburg, Blacksburg, Baltimore and other towns in Maryland and Virginia. (Photo by Pete Guion – UltiPhotos.com)
5. Watching the guys amuse themselves in a parking lot for several hours – While the play on the field is what wins championships and makes the highlight reels, anybody who has played ultimate or any team sport knows that the off the field moments are when a roster really becomes a team. Following a bus breakdown on the way to a matchup with the Boston Whitecaps in Medford, we spent several hours waiting for a new bus in a shopping center parking lot. A team full of fierce competitors spent the time enjoying each other’s company and finding ways to pass the time. Anybody who has been a member of a team can appreciate what that kind of experience means to a coach.
Coach Smolinski’s goal for 2016 was to begin to implement his Three Year Plan to get the Current back to the Championship, despite significant roster turnover. His team came together, forming a core of talent that they will look to build on in 2017. (Photo by Pete Guion – Ultiphotos.com)