Photo by Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com
With teams across the league making strides to sign big-name talent for the 2014 season, the Current made another move towards returning to the Eastern Conference championship game in their second season.
D.C. added offensive weapon Markham Shofner (Nashville, Tenn.) and defensive stalwart Brian Marshall (Germantown, Md.) to the 2014 roster that already includes seven returning players from last year’s playoff team.
Shofner led the Current in scoring last season with 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) on just 173 passes thrown. He finished third in the league in total assists and fifth overall in total points. Shofner, who started the season on the defensive line, added eight defenses to his offensive stats.
“Shofner has one of the smoothest hucks in Ultimate,” said D.C. Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “He has a natural ability to recognize an open away cut and the ability to hit a cutter in stride.”
Shofner’s ability on the field goes way beyond his ability to rack up gaudy stat lines. He has excellent field vision and one of the biggest arms in professional Ultimate, which allows him to utilize every inch of the 6,400-square-yard field and forces opposing defenses to play the deep huck every time the disc is in his hands.
“Shofner is a threat from anywhere on the field,” said Assistant Coach Will Smolinski. “He can do things with the disc that open up a lot of options for the offense.”
In last year’s regular season finale, Shofner, a 25-year-old player out of Pomona College, recorded three goals and four assists to help lead D.C. into the playoffs. He’ll join top-scoring threats Alan Kolick, Calvin Oung, Sean Keegan and Jeff Wodatch to fortify one of the most exciting offensive lines in Ultimate.
From the player’s own lips:
On his success on offense: “Towards the end of last season I finally got the opportunity to play offense. I’m a creative thrower and offense lends itself more to my skill set. I have a big arm, and playing with speedy cutters like Tom Doi or big targets like Jeff Wodatch and Calvin Oung really allowed me to thrive last year.”
On playing in the MLU: “You lay it all on the line for every point knowing that moment will define the whole week for you and the team.”
On playing in front of fans: “I’m a player that loves rising to the occasion. When the bright lights are on us and the crowd is cheering, I play my best Ultimate. No question about it.”
On challenging Boston in the East: “Boston had everyone [in the Eastern Conference]’s number last year. They just didn’t make any mistakes and I think teams found themselves playing the same game against Boston over and over again.”
On D.C.’s challenges in 2014: “We’re still a young team. We have to focus on winning each matchup on the field and winning each point in every quarter and less on what it might take to win the season or the championship. We weren’t outmatched physically by anyone last season and, with the guys we’re returning, that’s going to be true again this year.”
One of those imposing physical matchups returning to the Current is defensive starter Marshall.
“Marshall was one of our most exciting defensive players last year,” Moldenhauer said. “He not only shuts his man down, but sets his teammates up to make game-changing defensive plays too.”
Marshall was one of the most physical defenders in 2013 and truly embodied D.C.’s aggressive, leave-it-all-on-the-field attitude. The 24-year-old player out of Elon University was one of the hardest defenders to get open on and nearly eliminated his man as an option on offense.
“Marshall plays with a lot of confidence, and having him on the field gives our defense a lot of confidence in return,” Smolinski said. “We know that as long as he is in position to make a play, he will do what it takes to get it done.”
Marshall recorded five defenses and nine offensive points last season. His return gives the Current an excellent chance of shutting down Boston’s brutally efficient offense in 2014.
“Last year, we were one point away from giving Whitecaps a loss. That is the closest any one got all season, including the Western Conference Champions,” Marshall said. “This year we’ll be gunning to take them down and be the Eastern Conference Champions.”
D.C. opens their season on April 12, 2014 at Philadelphia. The complete schedule for the 2014 season is available online, here.