The Boston Whitecaps (1-1) used five breaks in the final quarter to come back from a four point deficit and defeat the D.C. Current (0-1) 17-16 on Major League Ultimate’s Opening Day.
With the Boston Whitecaps down 13-9 heading into the fourth quarter, the D.C. Current were looking to steal a win on a blustery Saturday night. The veterans of Boston however, took charge when the team needed them the most. Tyler Chan (two goals, two assists) recorded all of his scoring in the final 10 minutes and five seconds.
With winds at a steady 25 mph, sometimes gusting to 40 mph, and temperatures hovering around freezing, both teams faced the conditions head on. Consistently the wind was blowing from one end-zone to the other and proved to be a difference at Cardinal Stadium for yet another chapter in this epic rivalry.
“Our inexperience showed at the end, it is something that we are hopefully going to fix,” Coach Will Smolinski said.
Chan’s biggest goal came perhaps at the end of the third. With the Boston O-line going back and forth with the Current for over the span of minutes, the Current were stuck in Callahan territory having to go upwind. With the clock dwindling down the patient offense lost their focus and turned the disc right in front of the endzone. Without question Piers MacNaughton (four goals, two assists) picked up the disc and lofted it up line to Chan.
Riding the momentum, the 2015 champs outscored the home team 8-3 in the final ten minutes, scoring five breaks and the final four points of the game.
Despite the loss, controlling the Whitecaps for all of 20 seconds of the season opener is encouraging for a team that only had 10 players returning from the 2015 roster. At the end of the night, the rookies were the highlight for the D.C. squad, showing the talent that the team will be able to build on in coming weeks.
“For the team I would say it is a good result. I don’t think you are ever happy with a loss, especially when you clearly had the game in hand, but from a growth perspective only positive things can come from this,” said Keven Moldenhauer .
This game was Moldenhauer’s return to the professional playing field since 2013. Assuming a handler role, primarily on the defensive side of the disc, he went 7-11 on passes with two assists. The 39-year-old was able to keep up with players half his age and that he coached last season.
“You can coach guys, you can lead guys, but when you are playing with them and you’re brothers with them, there is nothing better than that.” said Moldenhauer.
Throughout the game, a young D.C. squad tested the defending champions. A relentless defensive unit negated the experience of Boston, leading to three early breaks for the Current.
A majority of the success coming from the ‘MLU rookies’ who showed up big for the team. Of D.C.’s 16 goals, 12 of them were not from the veterans. Antoine Davis (four goals, three blocks) led the way making the D.C. faithful take notice of a future budding star.
“I’m just really trying to make a name for myself, I haven’t really been playing with the team a lot until today,” Davis said. “Maybe people will start covering me deep. They kept pushing me deep so I kept doing it”
Coming out of halftime the defensive barrage continued. The Current broke the Whitecaps on the opening point, taking a 10-5 lead, the largest of the entire game. On that point Davis scored his third goal on the night on a pass from another rookie, Andrew Gravunder, swinging the momentum.
“Today we were really trying to figure out who we are as a team and we’re trying a bunch of lines and were being mixed and matched,” Davis said. “I think now we’ve found some sort of structure so we can build of off that”
Out of the game’s 33 total goals, only 11 were scored going upwind; six from the Current, five from the Whitecaps. From the second period to the third there was a string of 11 straight points where the team going downwind scored. Early on this tended to favor the Current, but as the game rolled on the experience of the Whitecaps flipped the script.
“We’re a young team and we made a few mistakes and we’re going to learn from those mistakes and we got a little tight. These things happen and we know it is going to be a process,” said Moldenhauer.
The loss in the latest chapter of the D.C.-Boston rivalry, puts the Current (0-1) in a hole to start the season, while the Whitecaps (1-1) went on to lose to the Philadelphia Spinners (2-0) yesterday as both teams finished their doubleheader weekends. Next weekend D.C. will host the Spinners at Cardinal Stadium with opening pull at 7:00.
“Moving into ‘phase two’ which is happening in the next week or two, fans can expect to see that we are going to start getting better at some of the things they saw, like the flashes of brilliance are going to start becoming more consistent and there will be less lapses in judgment.” said Smolinski.