Photo by Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com
Article by Bryan Flaherty
In front of an enthusiastic home crowd of 1,000, the Washington DC Current hosted the Philadelphia Spinners in the teams’ first game of the inaugural Major League Ultimate season.
The Current fell to Philadelphia, 18-16, after the Spinners were able to make defensive stops late in what was a tightly contested match from start to finish.
“We’re pretty bummed about the loss but excited about the potential for this team,” said DC Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “We built our team around athletes to be an exciting team to watch.”
Exciting may have been an understatement for a team that put together a season’s worth of highlights in just 40 minutes of gameplay. DC Current players stretched the field with deep hucks, moved the disc with surgical precision, and showed patience in the team’s first ever game.
But the inability to capitalize on turnovers haunted Washington all night.
“I thought we had an opportunity in the first half to end this game there with the number of turns we were able to force with our defensive line,” Moldenhauer said. “We just couldn’t put the disc in the end zone when we needed to.”
“There was some situational awareness at the end of the game we weren’t used to,” added Assistant Coach Will Smolinski.
Philadelphia went deep into their roster to find fresh legs late in the game. Spinners cutter Patrick Diviney came off the bench to catch the tying score late in the fourth quarter to make it 14-14. Philadelphia scored twice more before Washington handler Alan Kolick hooked up with cutter Ryan Todd to bring the score back to 16-15.
The two squads exchanged scores once more to make it 17-16 with 15 seconds left in the game, before Philadelphia sealed their victory with a quick score from midfield right off a pull sent purposefully out-of-bounds by the DC Current in an effort to preserve the clock. With 12 seconds left in the game, Washington simply ran out of time.
“This was a great game between two great teams,” said Spinners Head Coach Billy Maroon. “They had some injuries tonight, but those guys will be back when we play them in two weeks and we know they’ll be gunning for us. We’ll be ready.”
The Spinners scored the first point of the game, but quickly fell in a 3-1 hole to the Current and did not lead again until the 3:10 mark in the fourth quarter. The game had six ties and the widest margin for either team was two points.
Cutter Jeff Wodatch shined in the loss, grabbing three scores in the first half to help Washington to a 9-8 lead through two quarters. In the fourth quarter, he added an assist to Sean Keegan, who also had a strong opening performance.
“He’s a scorer,” said Moldenhauer of Wodatch, who led the DC Current in goals caught. “He’s a big guy who can go up and get the disc. He’s a nice target to have.”
Handling for the DC Current, Kolick also came up big for Washington, playing with what Moldenhauer called the most control he’s ever seen from the Arlington native. Kolick whizzed three strikes through tight holes in the Philadelphia defense, including a connection with Ryan Todd with 1:30 left in the fourth to get the DC Current back within one point, 15-16.
“I liked playing on the big field with all that space. It’s a different game,” Kolick said. “It seemed like we had a lot of opportunities at the beginning to open the game up, but we didn’t take advantage.”
Despite the loss, it was a successful night for the Current before their home crowd, who showed the nation’s capital what fast-paced, big-play professional Ultimate is all about.
“I didn’t expect so many people to come out and pack the stands,” Wodatch said. “Having the energy of the crowd was awesome.”
The DC Current host the Boston Whitecaps next week, April 27 at 7 pm at Blazer Stadium.