Photo by Sean Carpenter – UltiPhotos.com
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will collide on Saturday, as the Boston Whitecaps travel south to take on the D.C. Current in a battle of unbeaten squads. While the battle on the field is sure to be intense the connections off the pitch run deep as well.
Last season Peter Prial and his Boston Whitecaps teammates ran the table, beating every foe that dared to step in front of them as they rampaged their way towards capturing the inaugural MLU championship title. Now that the 2014 campaign is officially underway Prial finds himself in a different city, playing with his former opponents.
The league’s leading goal scorer from 2013 already made his mark last Saturday with four goals against the Spinners, and this week, he hopes to help the Current end the Whitecaps’ undefeated run.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to play against all those guys that I’ve been playing with for a while,” said Prial. “It will be nice to see them all, but obviously I really want to beat them and show them that D.C. is a team to be reckoned with this year.”
Minus some easily correctable drops and mistakes, the Current looked ready for primetime in their season opening victory on the road over Philadelphia. Many of D.C.’s players chalked up the high number of turnovers against Philadelphia to rust and first game jitters, but to have a chance in their game against Boston, the Current know they will need to be nearly perfect with the disc.
“We have some minor improvements, things like not dropping the disc,” said Eddie Peters, who recorded the Friction Gloves Catch of the Week against the Spinners. “Without the simple mistakes – that can very easily be corrected – and it would have been an entirely different game. I feel like our game against Boston is going to be an entirely new entity. I’m very excited to see a clean and fast Ultimate game this weekend.”
The two best teams in the MLU should put on quite a show for the fans at Cardinal Stadium this weekend, as both squads put over 20 points on the board in their respective Week 1 victories. D.C. Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer said that he is less concerned about the number of tallies his team hangs on the scoreboard and more about how potent they are on offense.
“It’s all about efficiency,” said Moldenhauer. “We only scored on 63% of the points that we received the disc on, which is unacceptable and that’s one of the big things we have to improve on this week.”
If D.C. can stay away from foolish turnovers and punch the disc into the end zone more frequently, it would accomplish two things for the team: They would be able to keep pace with Boston’s high powered offense, and also limit the Whitecaps number of break point chances.
“I think what made Boston the best team in the league, and the reason they’ve never lost a game, is that their D-line doesn’t turn the disc over. They have the best D-line offense in the MLU,” said handler Markham Shofner.
While the strength of Boston’s D-line is a well known fact around the league, Prial said that he’s been trying to help his new squad out by spilling the beans on some of the less well known Whitecaps tactics.
“Any edge that we can get is going to be helpful, so I’ve been talking with the coaches and the other guys on the team about little things that I think could help us in the game,” said Prial. “Hopefully some of those things that we’ve been talking about will happen in the game and we will be ready for them.”
While Prial has a deep connection with the Whitecaps, he’s not the only member of the Current to have ties to the Boston side. Coach Moldenhauer was a senior captain for the Salisbury University club team when a current Whitecaps star came to the school.
“I played with Danny Clark so it’s always fun playing against him,” said Moldenhauer. “I knew him as a freshman. I was the captain of the team, so we sort of brought him up in the idea of Ultimate, and to see him flourish as a player has been great.”
It’s been fun for Moldenhauer to see Clark play well except for the times he’s been on the opposite sideline, as the Whitecaps star has more often than not gotten the better of the D.C. coach.
“Pretty much he’s beat me in every opportunity he could on every team he can, so on a personal note I’m always excited for the opportunity to give him a loss,” said Moldenhauer. “But he’s a great player and it’s awesome to see he’s still playing. I try to recruit him every year.”
While there will be many friendly pre-game handshakes between the teams, Saturday’s tilt will be intense and should set the tone for the rest of the season in the Eastern Conference.
Come see the D.C. Current take on the Boston Whitecaps in their home opener this Saturday, April 19 at 6:00 p.m.