Photo by Sean Carpenter – UltiPhotos.com
Written by Bryan Flaherty
In a must-win game, the DC Current played with emotion and tenacity to earn their first win of the season, 18-15, over the Philadelphia Spinners on Saturday night in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.
After starting the second half flat, the Current (1-2) surged back from a 12-9 hole late in the third quarter to steal the game from Philadelphia (2-1) and keep themselves from slipping to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
“I knew we were going to win this game. We had to,” said Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer.
Despite the head coach’s confidence, the win was very much in doubt after coming out sluggish to start the second half with Philadelphia jumping out to a three goal lead. But the Current never backed down, throwing themselves all over the field making defensive stops to keep the game within reach.
“That was the worst first half we’ve played all year, which was disappointing after working so hard in practice this week,” said Moldenahuer. “But we kept after it in the second half and started putting things together on offense and shut them down on defense and really showed how good this team can be.”
None were better on defense than Ryan Todd. His stifling pressure on the dump pass in the second half forced the Spinners handlers to make difficult passes up field into traffic, resulting in key turnovers that allowed the Current to get back in the game.
“Ryan was so tight on defense that he denied the dump pass completely, which really turned the tide for us in the second half. He was our MVP for today,” said Moldenhauer.
Todd’s defensive stops set off a 13-minute surge with which DC changed the course of the game.
Calvin Oung found Markham Shofner for an easy score with 3:15 left in the third after Brent Bellinger made a brilliant diving catch early in the possession to keep the disc with DC.
Jeff Wodatch found a cutting Todd to bring the game back within one score with 1:24 left in the quarter, and Shofner hooked up with Oung for the third time with a cross field huck to tie things at twelve apiece with 0:32 on the clock.
“Markham and I are carpool buddies. I think all that time spent together started to pay off today on the field,” said Oung. “We were working really well after switching to the vert stack in the second half. Guys just started finding each other on the field.”
To start the fourth, DC showed patience and focus they lacked in their first two games that paid off when Alan Kolick sent an easy score into Oung for the Current’s first lead since 1-0. Kolick, who finished with four assists, was masterful for DC once again utilizing every inch of the field on offense.
“Our offense really struggled in the first quarter. We looked like we got hit by a bus,” said Coach Will Smolinksi. “But we figured out the defensive chemistry in the second half and our players began making plays. Our players began to really trust each other out there, which made all the difference.”
Moments later, Cranston sent a contested disc downfield to Marshall who ripped it out of the air to go up two scores, 14-12.
Cranston, who was quiet for most of the game, made his presence felt in the fourth quarter once again with a great defensive play deep in Current territory, then sprinted the length of the field to receive a 50-yard huck from Sean Keegan to go up 15-12 with 5:59 left in the game.
Philadelphia, without any real downfield threats, never found a way to get back in the game. Art Shull grabbed a score from Sean Murray to make it 16-13, but Bellinger quickly sent a strike down field to Tom Doi that kept Washington ahead by three.
Philadelphia answered with a quick strike, but once back on defense, the Spinners looked gassed.
In the final two minutes, Oung found Keegan and Wodatch found Eric Miner to put the Spinners away for good. Murray grabbed a score in the final seconds as the Current players were already celebrating their first victory on the field.
The Current are back at home on Saturday night a 8 pm facing the New York Rumble (0-3) for the first time this season, followed by the first trip to Boston for a 1 pm game against the Whitecaps (3-0).