After a decisive victory at home last week against Philadelphia, the Current (2-5) failed to capitalize on any momentum gained with another tough loss at Blazer Stadium to the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Whitecaps, 23-19.
“There really aren’t many words to describe a game like this,” said head coach Keven Moldenhauer. “It’s been the same story all season. We haven’t put together a complete game once. Now we have to. If we win out, we go to the playoffs. If we lose one, we’re out. Simple as that.”
Boston (8-0) played with the same methodical style they have used to inundate teams all season, scoring in transition off of turnovers and playing with a consistent pressure defense that never sells out. Saturday night was no different, as the Whitecaps steadily pulled away from the Current in the first half before unleashing a 6-2 offensive barrage to start the third quarter that sent them up 18-11 with 3:37 left in the quarter.
But after Boston did everything it could to put the game away early, the Current took a stand, going on a 6-3 run to end the third quarter.
Markham Shofner found Sean Keegan to get the game back to 18-12 with 2:57 left in the quarter before Chip Cobb and David Cranston hooked up to get back to within five at 18-13 with 1:59left. DC and Boston exchanged a series of scores before DC showed true character as the clock wound down and a patient Shofner sent the disc flying into the end zone. The disc was tipped into the outstretched arms of Delrico Johnson to allow DC to go into the quarter break down just 20-15 and feeling like they finally had something going.
“We could have rolled over, but we didn’t,” said captain Sean Keegan. “We told ourselves that we were going to fight to the very end and we were able to come out and show what we can do against the best in the East.”
They never slowed coming out to start the fourth quarter as Jeff Wodatch did everything possible to get DC the first score of the final ten minutes. After going up big to bring down a huck from Calvin Oung, Wodatch used some fancy footwork to get open for Alan Kolick who found him alone in the end zone to get DC back within four at 20-16.
After quieter outings in his last two games, Kolick returned to the stat sheet with a vengeance, throwing for three scores and reeling in another three for six total points on the night. But more importantly for the Current, his presence was felt on nearly every possession as he directed the offense with a balance of patience and aggression that few are capable of.
DC really sold their bodies out in the final quarter on defense, throwing themselves all over the field trying to make something happen.
“We knew that the final quarter would define our season. We had to show ourselves that we were capable of punching back and tonight we did,” said Daniel Kantor, who provided some of the nights best highlights on defense, including a brilliant hand block in the first half.
Boston responded with a score from Jeff Graham — the league’s leading scorer — to Josh Markette. Markette finished with five assists and two scores to lead the Whitecaps in the victory, bringing him to 34 points on the season. Graham had three assists of his own.
Keegan responded with a quick score to Sean McComb, who provided solid handling for DC in the second half. Keegan finished with four assists and three goals to lead all scorers for the Current. He was joined by Jeff Wodatch, who had four goals and two assists as one of DC’s main offensive threats. Keegan would find Shofner for his second goal minutes later to make it 22-18 with 3:43 remaining. Shofner had three assists to go along with his two scores.
Erik Salmi made a huge block to save a Boston score with three minutes to go and give DC a chance to make a final push, and after Johnson went deep to set up a redzone play for the Current, Ryan Todd found Salmi to get DC within three goals, 22-19, with 2:33 left.
It wasn’t meant to be for the Current, who couldn’t punch the disc in after forcing turns in the final minutes.
DC now enters a three game stretch of must-win games that include New York and Philadelphia on the road and a yet-to-be-finalized make-up game against the Rumble.