Photos by Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com
The Vancouver Nighthawks played their final home game of the 2015 Major League Ultimate season on Saturday, hosting the Portland Stags at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium. The Nighthawks put a scare into the first place Stags but eventually lost 17-15. They will look to finish on a high note against the Seattle Rainmakers on Sunday.
The Nighthawks were pumped up before the game
With the playoffs out of reach, the Nighthawks were playing for pride and the fans. The heat was much more intense than Vancouver’s regular summer standards, and a breeze made even the easy throws just that bit more interesting. Vancouver kicked off the scoring when Brendan Wong hit Ari Nitikman for the goal. Portland was quick to counter though, tying the score before capitalizing on a Vancouver drop 10 yards from the their own end-zone on the following point. Morgan Hibbert then found some space all alone deep on the Stags’ defence to knot things at two. Portland would take three of the next four to finish the first quarter, with a Sam Creed toss to Hibbert wedged in for the Vancouver score.
Vancouver entered the second quarter down 5-3 but had no intention of falling any further behind. Charles “Bobo” Eyrich capped off a drive highlighted by his own layout by picking up the scoring toss from Hibbert. The next point was a long one, with the wind continuing to wreak havoc, as a Nitikman D in the endzone off a Stags’ hammer proved to be a key saving play en route to Taylor Nadon delivering the disc to Creed for the goal. The teams swapped the next scores, to leave the game at 6-6 after a Creed layout just in-bounds, before a pair of Vancouver turnovers in their own half gifted the visitors with an 8-6 lead. Hibbert found Eyrich again to pull the Nighthawks back within one before Ted Chu restored the deadlock for halftime.
The Nighthawks’ Dynamic Duo of Defense, Hibbert and Hochhalter, combine for the D against Timmy Perston
The start and finish of the third were essentially mirror images. After the Stags opened the half by scoring three of the first four points to take an 11-9 lead, the Nighthawks took four of the next five, finishing the quarter’s scoring on a Nadon sky at the back of the endzone between two defenders. 13-12 Vancouver.
Unfortunately for the Nighthawks, that was to be their final lead of the night. A Vancouver drop in their own end after already being forced deep off a long pull led to a quick Portland score. Another Stag point was countered by a great catch in traffic by Hibbert, but the Stags had two more of their own to follow up. Down 16-14, Hibbert once again was the man in the endzone as David Hochhalter hit him with 2:21 left, but that would be as close as the hosts came. Portland added one more goal with 38.6 seconds left to take the game 17-15.
Bobo Eyrich lays out for the catch
Coach Andrew Lugsdin commented on his group’s work this year before going on to give a nod to the fans.
“Our guys are working hard and learning what it takes to compete at this level. It’s hard to think of the positives right now after a tough loss like this, but there have been a lot of positives and improvements this year.
“The fans are great. We’re disappointed that we couldn’t win more games at home this year but it’s great to have the support of the fans anyway. Together, the staff and the fans create a great experience. As one of the guys down there on the field, I can tell you it’s awesome.”