Photo by Pete Guion – UltiPhotos.com
The D.C. Current opened up their 2015 campaign with a 19-18 sudden death double overtime victory over the Boston Whitecaps on Sunday afternoon.
Whenever D.C. (1-0) and Boston (0-2) meet, the match never seems to disappoint. In the latest chapter of this rivalry, the two sides needed more than just 40 minutes to determine a winner. Tied at 18 heading into double overtime, the Current pulled to the Whitecaps from the 50 yard line, taking advantage of a new rule that allows the team who calls a timeout in between points to move up the pull.
This forced Boston into the back of their own end zone, knowing that the next score would end the game. Struggling to get the disc out of Callahan territory, Jeff Graham saw an opening and put up a deep huck down the field. Ben Fleming came through in the biggest moment of the game as he made a gravity defying defensive layout, his third block of the contest, to give possession to the Current. D.C. was able to work the disc back up the field and finally bring an end to the madness with Alan Kolick (8 assists) hitting Delrico Johnson (3 goals) on an up-line throw to give the home side a sudden victory.
“I knew it was a big time play,” said Fleming. “If he would have came down with that, they would have had a lot of momentum, I saw the throw go up and knew I needed to cover ground.”
The conditions were far from ideal on Sunday as the wind made any throw, upwind or downwind, a difficult one. Throughout the game the crowd saw discs float in the air or simply get turfed immediately upon release. In addition to the tough weather conditions D.C. also had to work off some season-opening rust, as this was the Current’s first contest since they claimed the MLU Championship last July.
“In a game like this, it is the first game,” said Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “[There were] a lot of jitters out there, this kind of stuff happens.”
The game kicked off with an O-line score by the Whitecaps, followed by a quick break to put the visitors up 2-0. The reigning champs would respond with the first score of the season from their O-line. From that point on the D.C. D would dictate play for the remainder of the first half. The Current’s D-line allowed the Whitecaps to score just two more O-line points while in turn they recorded three breaks of their own to take a 6-4 advantage into the intermission.
Starting with the disc in the second half, the Whitecaps were determined to get back into the game. Led by Christian Foster, who recorded five goals, the Whitecaps climbed back into the contest and knotted the game at eight points apiece.
“The flow of the game was we’d get up by two points and they would tie it again, we would get up by two points, they tie it again,” said coach Moldenhauer. “The worry was that when they’d make that run they would get an extra break, and they did.”
The fourth quarter would be the highest scoring period of the match, with both teams netting the same amount of points they had scored in the first three quarters combined. Nearing the end of the final frame, the Current held a slight advantage at 15-14 and received a pull from the Whitecaps. After tapping the disc in at the back of the end zone Markham Shofner (2 goals, 3 assists) traveled on the ensuing throw, giving the visiting team the disc right outside the goal line. Boston’s Alex Simmons (3 assists) would then toss the disc up to an open Graham, his first score of the game, to tie the match at 15 with roughly a minute to go in regulation.
On the following point, the Current had plenty of time to score the go-ahead goal but while working towards the end zone, a throw by Peter Prial (4 goals) got caught by the wind and sailed out of bounds. Eric Stevens would then connect with Graham with less than 10 seconds remaining to hand Boston their first lead of the game since the first quarter.
At that moment it looked like the Whitecaps would be the first team to ever hand the Current a loss inside of the Dojo, but an offsides call against the Whitecaps on the pull gave D.C. a chance by putting the disc at the 50-yard line. Wasting no time Kolick sent the disc over to an open Shofner who hit Johnson on a cross field 40-yard flick to once again tie the game and ultimately send it to overtime.
In the overtime period both teams would score twice in the allotted five minutes. Tied once again the Current and Whitecaps headed to the sudden death double overtime period.
“Being down one, knowing that there are thirty guys on the team that want you to get up on, that’s great motivation,” said Prial.
Johnson saw plenty of action during the opening weekend, playing 17 points (5 offensive and 12 defensive) of the game’s 37 points. However, it was not until the final moments of the game when his impact was felt on the score sheet, as he recorded three goals in the game including the goal that sent the match into overtime and the score that sealed the sudden death victory for the Current.
The two teams combined for 71 turnovers, 35 for D.C. and 36 for Boston, with the one extra turn by the Whitecaps on the final point ending up being the difference in the outcome of the game.
Next week the defending champs return home to play the Philadelphia Spinners (1-0) who also are coming off a win against Boston. The winner of that game will hold an early lead in the Eastern Conference standings.
“It was just a great game, all around incredible game,” said Fleming. “It was fun, really fun.”