Photo by Pete Guion – Ultiphotos.com
Marching into Philadelphia with a two game winning streak, the Washington D.C. Current (2-5) was optimistic it could turn the season around. With wind, the hottest conditions of the season, and injuries to the team’s top players, the Current were unable to overcome all of the obstacles at Carey Stadium and lost to the Philadelphia Spinners (6-1) 20-16.
The Current’s loss officially eliminates the team from the postseason. This gives Philadelphia and the Boston Whitecaps (5-1) the two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Entering this matchup, the squad knew that they would be without primary offensive handler, Lloyd Blake. Before the game, Blake led the conference in points (28), assists (21), completions (213), and was second in the conference in touches per offensive possession (1.510). The loss would be huge for the team, not only production-wise, but for an offense that has struggled at points in the season.
Despite missing their main offensive weapon, D.C.’s offense came out strong and converted all of their hold attempts in the first quarter and led 3-2 at the break. In that quarter however, rookie Joe Freund (one block, two points played) went down with a hamstring injury. Freund, who has been on the team’s primary O-line all season, totaled five goals on the season.
Then in the second it came crashing down for D.C. Taking an up the line pass, handler Zach Norrbom (one goal, one assist) collided hard with Philadelphia defender Matt Esser and went crashing to the ground. Norrbom would need an injury timeout in order to get off the field with a head injury.
The aggressive hit went with a no call from the referees. After play resumed, the Current would immediately turn the disc over and result in the Spinners first break of the contest.
Neither Freund nor Norrbom would return to the game.
The Spinners would go on to outscore the Current 7-3 in the second quarter, with four breaks of the D.C. offense. This would be more breaks than they would convert the other three quarters and the difference in points for the game.
A callahan by David Brandolph (one goal, two assists) in the opening minutes of the third would further solidify Philadelphia’s lead. The Spinners would keep growing their lead for the remainder of the game until the final buzzer sounded.
Dominating the skies for the home team, Billy Sickles (three goals) had numerous downfield hucks and incredible grabs in the field. While his presence were not represented in the stats sheet, he would further his case as an Eastern Conference MVP candidate.
Seeing a majority of the touches for Philadelphia, Michael Panna (one goal, three assists) and Ethan Peck (one goal, three assists) help dictate play with Nick Hirannet who quietly had a 92 percent completion percentage. Panna and Peck combined to complete 29 out of 32 throw attempts and also scored or assisted in five of the team’s final seven scores.
Having a breakthrough night, Current rookie Austin Bartenstein played like a veteran on the field despite this being only his fourth game. Against the conference leaders, he totaled two goals, two assists and completed 15 of his 17 throw attempts; all of which are more than his other three games combined.
Bartenstein is one of three players that joined the team at the midpoint of the season. Expect Bartenstein to be worked more into the offense for the remainder of the year.
In the loss, Delrico Johnson hit a milestone by recording his 60th and 61st career points on a fairly quiet outing (two goals, two assists). His 60th point also happened to be his 45th goal of his career.
Now eliminated from postseason contention, the Current have their final bye of the season. The next game will be back north on June 11th to face the Whitecaps (5-1) on the road. At home, Boston is an MLU best 19-2 all-time. This will be after the Whitecaps travel on a doubleheader road trip next week.