Photo by Rodney Chen – Ultiphotos.com
The Nighthawks (0-1) started their 2016 MLU season on the road, falling to the hosting Dogfish (1-0), 21-12.
With a new front office, twenty rookies, and a season removed from being in the MLU Championship, the Vancouver Nighthawks took the field in at Yellowjacket stadium in Berkeley, falling to the Dogfish, 21-12.
While the result was hardly what what the Nighthawks sought after when they lined up against the Dogfish, a 21-12 loss, nearly 20 players got their first taste of professional ultimate. Through steady rainfall and tough defense from the Nighthawks, the Dogfish were able to use their experience to build a lead on the visitor Vancouver team.
Highly touted rookie handler Graeme Barber had two assists, a goal, and a block in his MLU debut, while veteran cutter Erik Hunter, who spent the 2013 season with the Nighthawks, had a pair of goals, assists, and blocks in his return to the league.
Hunter played for the Nighthawks in the MLU’s inaugural season back in 2013 and returned to the new look Nighthawks in 2016 as a key veteran on a team loaded with young players and rookies.
The 29-year old played 17 points against the Dogfish, and looked a bit rusty after his two year hiatus. Hunter’s seven turnovers coupled with San Francisco’s 54.5% DSE played a factor in the Dogfish victory. With a game under his belt and with teammates gaining their footing, Nighthawks fans can be sure to expect a more efficient Hunter to be a major part of the Nighthawks’ offense moving forward.
Both teams turned the disc over 30-plus times on Saturday, but the Nighthawks were unable to capitalize on as many opportunities as San Francisco was.
Second year player Taylor Nadon, a product of University of Victoria like many of his teammates, had a strong showing in his 2016 debut. Completing 93.3% of his passes on 15 points played, Nadon forced two turnovers, scored a pair of goals, and assisted a goal to Hunter in the second quarter to help pull Vancouver within one at halftime.
The Dogfish came out of the locker room after halftime and scored four straight goals to take a commanding five goal lead over the young Vancouver squad.
While the first half was conservative and low scoring by both teams, the second half showed an increased tempo on both sides and the scoring mimicked that. The Dogfish scored six goals in the third quarter and exploded out for nine goals in the fourth quarter to wrap up a win at home and drop the Nighthawks to an 0-1 start to the 2016 season.
For the Dogfish, veterans Gabe Saunkeah and James Sheridan led the way, each finishing with four total points and a pair of blocks in the victory. Thirty-year old rookie Nate Young scored three goals on 14 points played and proved to be a new player to watch on the Dogfish moving forward.
San Francisco converted 50.00% of break opportunities in their season opener, nearly doubling up the Nighthawks conversion percentage (27.8%).
Next up for the Nighthawks (0-1), the team opens their own home schedule, as they take on the Portland Stags (1-0) at Thunderbird Stadium, April 16 at 6pm PT.
The game, and the rest of the MLU schedule, will be streamed live on MLULive.com.