Photo by Pete Guion – Ultiphotos.com
Sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference will be up for grabs Saturday night when the Current (3-2) and the Philadelphia Spinners (3-1) face off inside the Dojo for the second time this season.
Both sides will enter the showdown for first place coming off of big victories last weekend. As Philadelphia continued their impressive start to the 2015 campaign with a dramatic double-overtime 22-21 win at Boston while D.C. also scored a win last week to get back over .500 with a 21-17 victory over New York.
It is difficult to understate the importance of this weekend’s game, because this match will set the pace of the rest of the season for both teams.
“This game is huge,” said Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “It is a test to see if Philly is real and a test to see if we are finally playing like champions.”
The Current won their first matchup of the season against the Spinners by a score of 18-15 in cold and rainy conditions on April 25th. D.C. also leads the all-time series 7-2 and has won the last five meetings.
The Current know, however, that past performance does not guarantee future results.
“It’ll be a battle between Philly’s offense and D.C’s defense,” said handler Freddy Tsai. “It’ll be about whether or not our defense can [limit the Spinner offense] again. I expect this game to be a dogfight for first place in the conference.”
In their first game against Philadelphia, D.C.’s stingy defense generated 20 turnovers and held their opponent to a season-low 15 points. The Spinners, on the other hand, struggled to gain momentum and trailed the entire contest, despite strong efforts from Jake Rainwater (2 goals, 1 assist), Matt Glazer (3 goals, 1 assist), and Billy Sickles (1 goal, 4 assists), all of whom are among MLU’s top 20 scorers in 2015.
Lloyd Blake, Peter Prial, and Jeff Wodatch one-up’d their counterparts however, as each recorded six-point performances to help the Current maintain their lead throughout the contest. The efficient Current offense did not allow any break points in the first half.
While they were able to come away with the victory, D.C. had their fair share of difficulties in the April game as well. The Current defense generated only six breaks and the offense struggled to hold onto the disc at times.
“In the first game, I think we did a solid job of working hard,” handler Markham Shofner said. “We had some loose throws and drops, and not strictly because of the rain…To win, we’ll look to play smooth and smart, and I think we are more than capable of reaching that state.”
Adding to the challenges that D.C. will face against Philadelphia, star handler and 2014 Eastern Conference MVP Alan Kolick will be out for Saturday’s game. Despite his absence, the rest of the Current players are ready, willing, and able to step in to fill the void.
“One thing that I love about our team is that you can never be sure who is going to have a big game, because it seems we just let the Frisbee flow where it needs to go. It could be anyone, truly,” Shofner added.
“We want each player on offense to be a threat as a handler and a cutter,” said Moldenhauer. “We want our defense to make every throw contested. We must limit short points. We want Philly to earn each point they get.”
As was the case in the first game, the Current know they must start fast on offense, stay tight on defense, and consistently capitalize on break opportunities in order to come away victorious against Philadelphia yet again.
“In the first game, pressure earned us turns, which — sometimes — became breaks,”said cutter Brian Marshall. “Philly was opportunistic in the first game and scored on blown coverages, so we need to be especially cognizant of our man, positioning of the disc, and the flow so we aren’t caught off guard.
“Again, a big thing for us is coming out firing. If we score a couple breaks early, we can ride that momentum through the game.”
Please come support the Current at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday evening. First pull is at 6:00 p.m. MLU Live will broadcast the game.