MLU Game of the Week: Philadelphia vs. New York

by | May 17, 2013, 8:18am 0

The New York Rumble entered their Sunday game in Philadelphia 0-3. They had let a potential win against the Spinners slip away in Week 2. In the preseason they had lost to them 14-27. For the first time they were playing the Spinners in Philadelphia. Though the Spinners were coming off a loss to the DC Current, this was not a game they were expected to lose. However, this was a game the Rumble needed to win if they wanted to stay alive in the playoff race. A loss would mean they’d be three games back of the second place team, with only six games left to play. A win would mean they’d only be one game back. There was no doubt who needed this game more, and it showed the first few points of the game.

Nick Hirannet played the key handler role for the Spinners O-Line (Photo by Sean

The first three points saw the Spinners O-Line turn the disc three times, with the Rumble scoring quickly afterward, with possessions taking 3, 2, and 3 completions. Less than two minutes into the game and the Rumble led 3-0. The Rumble’s energy was evident early on, it showed when Joe Anderson got a penalty for taunting after completing bookends to take a 4-1 lead. The Spinners were struggling with the wind, surprising for a team that prides itself on its play in those conditions. While the Spinners struggled, Chris Mazur completed some very difficult hucks going into the wind to give New York that early advantage, and finished with 4 goals and 3 assists. After their initial difficulties, Philadelphia’s O-Line calmed down, and started playing the way they’re accustomed to. Their first four possessions they went 0-4, then they finished the half scoring on eight of their remaining eleven possessions.

That level of precision helped the Spinners get back in the game, they only trailed 10-11 at halftime. Even though at halftime the score was close, the way the two teams played was very different. The Rumble relied on three players in particular to make big plays for them, Chris Mazur, Dan Hejimen, and Ben Faust. Mazur’s throws looked good in the wind, and Faust was able to come down with most discs put his way, and throw the occasional assist too, finishing with 7 assists and 1 goal. While the Spinners had strong players as well, they relied on a more balanced attack. And their stronger players weren’t playing as well as expected. Nick Hirannet and Leon Chou had their moments in the first half, but not as often as Coach Billy Maroon would have liked. Unfortunately for the Spinners, those struggles would only increase in the second half.

Dan Hejimen bids for a disc as Leon Chou looks on (Photo by Sean

The second half was a much slower game. The wind had picked up somewhat, and the turnovers and length of points picked up even more. At the end of the third quarter both teams had managed to score only twice, with the Rumble leading 13-12 heading into the final period.

In the fourth quarter Ben Faust got a couple early assists to lead the Rumble to a 15-13 lead. Even after the Spinners O-Line responded, the Rumble seemed in control. The Spinners had taken 20 completions to get a point, and their D-Line was struggling to convert their D’s into scores. But with the Rumble leading 15-14, a marathon of a point was about to begin. The point started with 5:25 left in the quarter, and ended with only 29 seconds left on the clock. There were 11 turnovers total that point alone. With time running out and the Spinners down by one, Jonah Wisch made an unreal catch on an errant throw, and immediately zipped the disc to Shull for the game tying score. With the teams tied at 15 the Rumble were unable to capitalize in the time remaining, and the game headed to overtime.

At this point the game must have felt familiar to the Rumble. They were in control throughout, and had never trailed. They had numerous chances to win the game late in the fourth quarter, but were unable to come through, just like their 17-19 loss to the Spinners two weeks prior. The Rumble got a break to start the extra period, but the Spinners 0-Line got the next one to tie it up at 16. The next point the Spinners made the most of a drop by Ben Faust, scoring from the New York 38 yard line after 12 completions. With just two minutes left on the clock, the Spinners D-Line had gotten the disc back at their own 10 yard line, and looked to march the disc down the field for the nail in the coffin. But after a few upline passes they threw the disc away. This was a recurring theme for the Spinners D-Line. When they got the disc on New York’s half of the field, they were able to convert for a score, going 6-11 in such scenarios. But when the disc started on their half of the field, they were 0-15. Meaning they never scored if they started 40 yards or more away from the end zone. Their D-Line was missing Sean Murray, but one player doesn’t account for that type of gap. It is interesting that Coach Maroon didn’t use his more of his timeouts to switch in his offense for his defense after the Rumble O-Line turned the disc, surprising since there were so many opportunities to do so and that the Spinners D-Line struggled so much with the disc in their hands.

The Rumble celebrate their victory, keeping their playoff hopes alive (Photo by Sean

New York would tie it up to send it to double overtime, and this period was all Rumble. They scored on three of their four possessions, while the Spinners put up a bagel. After the Rumble scored an upwind offensive point to start the period the Spinners looked defeated. Miscommunications and mental errors cost the Spinners after that, preventing them from getting back in the game. The Spinners 0-Line had been their saving grace in regulation, going 10-16 after missing their first four opportunities, but they only went 1-6 in the two overtime periods, and they ended up losing, 17-20.

Two losses at home are tough to swallow for Philadelphia. Though they still stand in second place at 2-2, it may be short lived. Tomorrow they play the Whitecaps on the road, and the following week they play the Whitecaps again, with the Current slated for them the next day. That 2-2 record could easily slide to 2-5 with that difficult stretch ahead. It now looks like the Spinners won’t be challenging the Whitecaps for the top seed, rather that they will be fighting for the second playoff spot. And with the Rumble finally on the board with a victory, they’ll be part of that chase.

Feature photo by Sean

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