In the opening game of their second Major League Ultimate season in Portland last weekend, the Vancouver Nighthawks played more than well enough to win, but were undone by a series of unforced errors, primarily drops.
This is not something that a team can do much about in practice. Due to a mix-up in their travel plans, the Nighthawks had little time to warm up or prepare for last weekend’s game, so maybe just being at home in familiar surrounding will be enough to cure the dropsies.
In practice this week, the Nighthawks have been concentrating on the positives to build up their confidence.
“I thought our offensive unit looked strong and demonstrated good continuation and good finish,” says D Line Handler Kevin Underhill. “It was a few mistakes by a few of us that ended up costing us the game. But we can’t be doubting our fundamentals. We expect to go out and play as well as we did last week but commit fewer execution errors.”
Head Coach Andrew Lugsdin doesn’t see the need to make many changes from last week, particularly since the Dogfish will be tired from having traveled to Seattle for a game the previous day.
“I think our team gained some confidence from how our offence flowed. We had good spacing and good cutting and pretty good decision making throughout the game but just had too many drops.”
“On the O line, things will be mostly the same other than having Keane Knapp back. We’ll find some playing time for him. On the D line, we’re still looking for seven guys that can bring consistent pressure. We’ll mix and match until those guys step up.”
One thing to watch for in this game is the use of double teams on defence, particularly if it’s windy or rainy. It’s a make or break tactic; if the player being double-teamed can complete a pass before the stall count runs out, it often leads to a goal because the offence will have an unmarked player until the defence can scramble back into position. Last week the Nighthawks used the double team twice, leading to one turnover but also giving up a goal. In San Francisco’s home opener, the playing conditions were poor, and the Dogfish were able to force a number of turnovers using the double team.
“I think that there are times, particularly depending on the throwing conditions, where a double team makes sense,’ said Lugsdin. “We may use it here and there, more as an element of surprise than as a core part of our defence.”
Veteran handler Kirk Savage is looking forward to what should be a fun game to watch.
“We are going to continue with our aggressive style of play this week, taking the game to the Dogfish with a fast, up-tempo approach. Our backs are against the wall as we need to even our season record at 1-1. I am anticipating that our fans will be the 8th person on the field and help us roll to our first win of the season on opening day in Vancouver.”
“We will bring some fire on Sunday. We are proud to represent Vancouver Ultimate, and we will not let our fans down.”
The Nighthawks home season opens in Vancouver against the San Francisco Dogfish at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Stadium on Easter Sunday, April 20 at 2 p.m..