Spiders win 29-26 over the San Francisco Flamethrowers

Photos by Alex Ho and Ron Sellers

In the friendly confines of Foothill College Stadium, the San Jose Spiders defeated the San Francisco Flamethrowers 29-26 in the 4th installment of this year's Battle of the Bay. The Spiders started out strong and scored 3 breaks to open the first quarter. With their foot on the gas they had a chance to go up by 4 but a turnover following a time yielded San Francisco's first score and hold. Charged up by Greg Cohen's goal, San Francisco followed up with a break and finished the quarter with a buzzer beater to tie up the game 4-4 at the end of the first. In the second quarter both teams managed just 1 break and the score remained even at 12-12.

San Jose was able to open the third quarter with a break and built a sizable 5 point lead before San Francisco closed to within 3. With multiple chances to break the game wide open, it seemed like San Jose could never shut the door on San Francisco. But the steady Spiders offense rose to the challenge in the 4th quarter, matching San Francisco's 9 goal output and ending with a 3 goal victory. Despite how close the game was, San Francisco never held a lead for the entire contest.

You can watch the full game below.

With the win the Spiders split the four game season series which saw the home team win every game. The combination of calmer conditions and a more lively home crowd has been the catalyst for their success at home and has propelled the team to first place in the Western Division. In response to a packed crowd, Sonny Zaccaro and Andrew Berry rose to the occasion and really shined for the Spiders offense. Sonny has had a quiet season so far playing the role of facilitator for center handlers Chuck Cao and Justin Norden. In this contest, Sonny used his positioning as a handler to set up deep cuts and caught 4 goals including several skies against San Francisco's top defenders. He finished the night with a +7 overall contribution, tied for the team lead with Andrew Berry. In addition to his 4 goals he threw 3 Assists on 52 passes (98% completion rate) and had 1 block.

Andrew Berry is normally a primary cutter and goal scorer but on this night he was clearly feeling it with his arm. Berry unleashed a flurry of pin point hucks and ended the game with 6 assists on 14 completions and no turnovers. Other offensive standouts were Matthew Crawford who played both O and D line cutter and was on the receiving end of 4 goals. Shane Earley had another blistering performance, tying Sonny's team leading +7 overall contribution with 4 assists and 3 goals.

On defense the usual suspects continued to stand out. Ethan Falat put in more work than any other player on the team, playing a team high 27 points and covering the recently signed Ashlin Joye for most of the game. Ethan was able to hold Ashlin in check and lead the team in blocks with 3 including 2 on spectacular layouts. Brandon Fein ended the contest with 2 blocks, including stopping one of Beau's up line cuts and a sky block in the endzone.

For San Francisco, the story was the addition of Ashlin Joye who played in his first AUDL game since he led the Spiders to a Championship title in 2015. Reunited with his former teammate Beau Kittredge one may have expected fireworks from these two. While Ashlin was able to connect with Beau on a number of deep looks, he also looked out of sync with his new teammates. He finished the game leading the team in throw aways with 4 but also led the team in completions with 46 and a final 92% completion rate. Beau and Antoine both had big games for San Francisco with a final +6 overall contribution. But the San Francisco big men shifted attention away from Jordan Marcy who capitalized with a game high 7 goals and +9 overall contribution.

Outlook
The Spiders have 3 games left in the regular season and at 8-3, are only 1 game ahead of San Francisco and LA. A perfect 3 game stretch will yield the coveted top spot and first round bye in the Western division playoffs. Any loss and the Spiders will need some help from Seattle and San Diego to hold on to first seed. On the docket for the Spiders is their last home game of the regular season on July 14th against the Seattle Cascades. Seattle started strong and was in first place for a significant part of the season following an early season road win at San Francisco. They've since gone into a tail spin, losing 3 of 4 all to LA and San Diego, and all by giving up sizable 4th quarter leads. If the Spiders can hold at home they'll finish on a 2 game road trip to Southern California. In their last trip to San Diego the Spiders gutted out a hard fought 4 point victory, a game that was much closer than the 4 point final score would indicate. If they can win there, they'll finish the season at LA, the only team that has beaten the Spiders at home. Expect to hear more about playoff schedule and dates shortly as the final teams solidify and seeds get set.

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