Spiders go 2-0 on their Northwest road tripPhotos by Andrew Zill
Last weekend the Spiders went on this season's only Northwest road trip and came back with two hard fought victories. The 2-0 weekend brings the Spiders to 4-1 overall and they are now tied with their Bay Area rival for first place in the Western Conference. In 2016 the Spiders got a surprise upset win in their home opener, but they followed that up with 5 losses in a row. Given the history and similar rosters, there was concern that the upset win over San Francisco may have been a fluke. But the Spiders have since validated their win and have positioned themselves to be a contender for a playoff spot in the West. They have a bye weekend to regroup and refocus before they take on the only team that they haven't faced yet this year the LA Aviators.
On Friday the Spider's landed in Seattle Airport, headed to the hotels to rest up before heading to Memorial Stadium for pre game warmups. The conditions were cold and somewhat still, similar to the conditions of their win over San Francisco. The Spiders opened the game on defense and earned an easy break, a sign that the Spider's defense would see a lot of success. That early impression proved wrong. Seattle broke back on their next defensive point and the score remained close. By the end of the first half the Spiders earned 5 breaks to Seattle's 2 and they held a 14-11 lead.
The second half would see both teams play nearly perfect offense. The Spiders did not manage a single break in the second half. It was up to the San Jose offense to hold every point to maintain the led and get the win. In the third quarter a few errant throws by San Jose gave Seattle the chances they needed to earn back 2 breaks. San Jose would start the fourth quarter on offense and the game seesawed back and fourth with San Jose up 1 and 2 points. In the first 11 minutes of the quarter each team's offense would hold on each of their 7 offensive possessions. Finally, with only 50 seconds left in the game Seattle got a block on a tough upline throw and they capitalized for the only break of the 4th quarter. Instead of being able to run out the clock San Jose's offense would have to hold one more time or let the game go to overtime. A turnover would give Seattle the opportunity to do the same.
Off the pull, the Spiders worked the disc up the field patiently and ran 25 seconds off the clock, but a miscue on the goal line on a throw from Evan Boucher to Jackson Stearns gave the disc to Seattle. Seattle called timeout to put in their O-line for a chance to hold for the win. With 25 seconds left on the clock, San Jose mounted a defensive stand and Matt Crawford got a poach block on just the second pass of the possession. David Abram called a quick timeout for San Jose and Tyler Grant called in the O-line to try to finish off the game with 12 seconds left. A few throws later Chuck Cao had the disc near the goal line. With time running out he hit the cross-field blade to Alec Surmani for the game winning score. See the whole sequence
The next day the Spiders drove up to Bellingham and checked in to their hotel before continuing over the boarder for their game against the Vancouver Riptide. The conditions for this game were even colder than the night before, low 40's and with a light rain but still no wind. The Spiders would play with just 17 players. James Yeager and Jackson Stearns both suffered ankle injuries the night before. And Sergio Perdomo was held up at the border and had to return to the hotel.
The cold and wet conditions favored San Jose's smaller roster and low risk offense. The Riptide struggled out of the gate and had numerous unforced errors in the first quarter. The Spiders offense was able to continue to complete passes at a high rate and could work the disc the length of the field. The Spiders got 6 breaks in the first quarter and built a 9-4 lead. The Riptide cleaned up their game in the second quarter but they couldn't stop the Spider's offensive line. The Spiders held on to their early lead and ended the game with a 28-22 victory.
The biggest stars on the weekend were Justin Norden, Kelly Van Arsdale, Matthew Crawford, Brandon Fein, and Evan Brydon. Justin threw 13 assists over the weekend and stands far ahead of the pack on the AUDL assist leader board. Justin wasn't just a throwing threat, he also led the team in goals with 8, many of them on hucks and against tough defense. He led the team in overall contribution with a +18 mark. Van Arsdale put up a strong showing on both sides of the field, tallying 4 blocks on the weekend as a member of the Spiders D-line. He also threw 4 assists on 26 passes with only 1 turnover all weekend. On Saturday, Evan Brydon proved he could be one of the top offensive cutters on the team. He led the cutting line in catches with 50 for the weekend and looked very confident on Saturday in really sloppy conditions. Brandon Fein was the top defensive player against the Riptide getting 4 blocks in that game alone. Meanwhile, Matt Crawford made the play of the weekend, getting the poach block that gave the disc to the Spiders for the chance to win on double game point.
The Spiders next match is at home against the LA Aviators Saturday May 13th at 7:00 pm. This will be the Spiders first meeting with the Aviators. The Aviators are currently 2-1 with wins over San Diego and Vancouver and a loss to San Francisco. With a four way race against Seattle, LA, and SF for the 3 playoff spots, this is a critical match for the Spiders to stay ahead of the pack.comments powered by Disqus