Photo by Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

The Philadelphia Spinners dealt the D.C. Current a 19-18 defeat on Saturday inside of Cardinal Stadium.

The win moves Philadelphia into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference and is D.C.’s  first home loss in nearly two years.

On a beautiful night in the nation’s capital, the Washington D.C. Current battled the Philadelphia Spinners for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. But both teams came into the highly anticipated match short-handed, as Philadelphia was without the services of Patric Diviney and Matt Esser while D.C. was without 2014 Eastern Conference MVP Alan Kolick.

The early results of D.C.’s O-line without Kolick were not very encouraging, as the Current turned the disc over on the first point of the contest allowing Philadelphia to score the first of their five break points on the night.

Despite initial conclusions from fans, players did not attribute this loss to Kolick’s absence.

“We have depth on both sides of the disc, it’s not an excuse that we didn’t have Kolick,” said defensive handler Ryan Nam. “It gave some players the opportunity to step up a little bit more; Tyler Monroe had a great game getting a couple more reps on O-line.”

Monroe (2 assists), who played twelve points, (the same amount that he has played all season combined), notched the first two points of his MLU career. Monroe looked comfortable on the field and with his performance it is fair to expect a larger role for the MLU rookie in future contests.

For the duration of the matchup, there were numerous ties and lead changes with neither side grabbing a lead of more than two points. In the first quarter, Philadelphia used the combination of Jake Rainwater (2 goals, 2 assists, 2 blocks) to Ben Scharadin (4 goals) twice to stay within one point of the Current.

The game would stay close in the second quarter as the teams went back and forth. But with the clock winding down the Spinners were denied a chance to tie the score at nine by a high-flying Delrico Johnson (1 goal, 3 blocks) in the end zone.

Coming out in the second half, Philadelphia got off to hot start with two-straight breaks on the Current’s O-line. The Spinners forced the D.C. O-line to turn the disc once again on the third point of the half but were backed up into their own end zone.

Now on defense for D.C., Johnson was marking his man while also keeping one eye on the Spinners’ David Baer who held the disc. Baer attempted to complete a pass but Johnson dove to intercept it and came down with it in Philadelphia’s end zone for the Callahan score. Johnson’s goal (his only of the game) was the first Callahan score in the MLU this season.

“I actually read the thrower. I knew that Philly likes to continue off their dump to swing and I was hoping that he would throw it. I don’t think [Baer] saw me,” said Johnson. “I wasn’t sure it was a Callahan at first until I got up and saw I was in the end zone. I am just glad I didn’t drop it.”

The Current would carry the momentum from the Callahan to the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth as they scored a break point to open the period to claim a 14-13 advantage. But D.C. was never able to expand their margin over Philadelphia as the two teams remained tangled in a close game all the way through the final moments.

Jeff Wodatch (3 goals, 2 assists) gave the Current a 17-16 lead with 3:28 left to play, but Philadelphia answered with a point of their own on the following possession and then took the lead after a D.C. turnover at the two minute mark. Trailing 19-18 with 25 seconds left the Current received one final pull, but their offense faltered around midfield as an errant pass hit the turf and the clock ran out.

For the Current, the stats sheet was led by the twin towers of Peter Prial (3 goals, 2 assists) and Wodatch. Markham Shofner who was expected to have a big game filling in Kolick’s spot, quietly recorded a goal and three assists. For Philadelphia, Billy Sickles was responsible for the most damage with three goals and three assists in the contest.

The loss drops the Current to 3-3 on the year, with the squad losing three of their last four contests, the worst four-game stretch since the inaugural season for D.C.

“[This loss] means that we need to refocus and start working a lot harder,” said Nam. “Everyone is going to be working hard to take care of themselves and do what they need to do to get themselves ready physically and mentally so that we can come out hungry for the next game.”

“We just have to work harder,” said Johnson. “It hurts just because it is at home in front of our fans; we want to win for them. It’s also motivation to get revenge and finish out the season strong”

Meanwhile this was the third consecutive win for the Spinners (4-1), the longest streak of victories for the franchise since they joined MLU play.

“It’s obviously huge,” said Philadelphia head coach Billy Maroon. “It doesn’t change anything; our goal is to just get better every day, every point. It might give us some freedom to try a few things, but that will be the only thing that changes. It doesn’t matter unless we win next week.”

For the Current (3-3), they will head into a bye this upcoming weekend before facing the Spinners yet again, this time in Philadelphia. It will take place on Saturday, June 6 at 6:30 where the Current will have the opportunity to avenge this week’s loss.

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