Playing their first home game of the Major League Ultimate season in front of an excited crowd enjoying yet another miraculous parting of the clouds after a number of rainy days, the Vancouver Nighthawks evened their record at 1-1 and grabbed their first ever win against San Francisco Dogfish by a decisive 26-15 score.
With lots of good synergy between rookies and veterans, the Nighthawks made few mistakes and played spot-on defense en route to a confident win.
Captain Evan Boucher led the Dogfish stat sheet with seven points (four assists, three goals) as well as one D while MLU rookie Brendan Wong dominated the Nighthawks’ stat sheet with 10 points (three assists, seven goals). Defensively, Morgan Hibbert was his usual dominant self for the Nighthawks with three Ds.
The Nighthawks got off to a good start when Marc Seraglia attacked an opening in the Dogfish defence, throwing a hammer to Rumi Tejpar for the first point. Following a drop by San Francisco after the pull, Matthew Berezan was able to hit Kirk Savage for a quick second point. Another turnover was capitalized on by the Nighthawks when Peter Yu threw a huge huck to Hibbert who then found Charles Eyrich in the endzone. To finish off the first quarter, Aaron Loach fired a long flick huck to Keane Knapp, who out-sprinted his check for a goal to end the first quarter with the Nighthawks up 5-3.
At the start of the second quarter the Dogfish committed a travel foul; amidst the ensuing confusion, Kevin Underhill passed the disk to Wong for a point. The Nighthawks continued to press their advantage throughout the second frame, allowing the Dogfish only a single point in the quarter, courtesy of a James Pollard huck to Evan Boucher. With 20 seconds left, the Dogfish tried to sneak in a point with another long huck, but Morgan Hibbert showed no mercy in taking the disk down to end the half with the Nighthawks on top 11-4.
“We were making the right cuts, getting open when we needed to get open, and creating space for our teammates”, said Nighthawks rookie sensation Gagan Chatha. “We just ran a really good offensive game and our defense was amazing.”
“We had a lot of defensive pressure the whole game and that’s something that we missed in our first game”, said Nighthawks Head Coach Andrew Lugsdin “That gave us some easy scores and some confidence. Our offence did a good job, as it did for the most part last week. We had good spacing, good timing, and good cutting, but we eliminated most of the dropsies that we had the game before.”
Kevin Greer laid out for a D to begin the third quarter before Tejpar got on the end of a hammer for a point. San Francisco seemed to be doing better in the second half, as Boucher and Aaron Caulfield scored a few points on the Nighthawks, but the game was still out of reach. When things are going right, they’re going right; with perhaps the most amusing play of the day, Jon Hayduk laid out for the disc and then sent a quick pass for the goal while still sitting comfortably on the ground watching his throw. The third quarter ended with back-to-back points for the Dogfish, but the Nighthawks still led 18-10.
Wong got the fourth quarter going with a huck caught by a huge one-handed layout by Chatha. The Nighthawks then used their vertical stack strategies to get Wong an assist on another point by passing to a wide-open Mark Leduc. With some good hustle from Greg Husak, Matt Kissman, and Boucher, the Dogfish were able to keep the Nighthawks from pulling even further ahead, but the result was never in doubt. Wong continued his offensive show when he caught a huge inside-out huck from Loach. Following Wong’s point, Nathan Dandurand was able to score with an assist from Myles Sinclair. The Dogfish made their last stand with a final huck by Husak to Jackson Stearns, but it was not nearly enough as the game ended 26-15 for the Nighthawks.
The winners of the Most Spirited Player of the Game Award, presented by Nighthawks partners the Vancouver Ultimate League, were Evan Boucher of the Dogfish and Brendan Wong of the Nighthawks.
The Nighthawks next home game will be against the Seattle Rainmakers at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Stadium on Saturday, May 10 at 7 p.m..