On Sunday afternoon, the two teams that San Diego is chasing out West shared one of the most exciting finishes to regulation I have ever witnessed.
In the final moments, Seattle’s Zane Rankin and Sam Lehman both elevated for sensational skies, enabling the Cascades to tie San Francisco at 21-all with 1.9 seconds remaining. Rankin soared for Reid Koss’s deep flick with perhaps four or five seconds on the clock, but his remarkable catch landed just outside the end zone. With little time to think, he lofted an airy flick toward Lehman, who climbed over the shorter Evan Boucher for the improbable goal.
Rankin’s throw was very iffy. After the game, he admitted to me that when he released it, he thought it would be knocked away. But Lehman, who just wrapped up an All-Freshman season at Brown University, launched himself above the pack for the dramatic snag.
“Zane’s throw to Sam Lehman in the final seconds was a prayer shot,” said Seattle veteran Danny Karlinsky, “but Lehman is a guy with a ton of heart and has been playing his hardest at every game and practice, and I think that helped him in that huge moment. We were obviously going bananas once he made that grab and we knew we had a shot in OT.”
Amidst the frenetic finish, San Francisco FlameThrowers found a way to regroup. Having led for almost the entire game, the FlameThrowers calmly punched in the first score of the overtime on offense, then capitalized on a few crucial unforced turnovers to put the game away.
Even though Seattle had stormed into overtime with all the momentum, the Cascades were flattened in the final five minutes, with San Francisco outscoring them 4-0 to earn the positive result, 25-21.
The victory, for at least a week, moved the FlameThrowers into a tie with the Cascades, with San Francisco owning the tiebreaker by virtue of the head-to-head win. Of course, two squads will meet again this weekend in Seattle. This time, it will be San Francisco on the second day of a back-to-back following the FlameThrowers’ Saturday test in Vancouver.
Although Seattle did not register a win in its Bay Area road trip, the members of the Cascades still looked at their weekend as a very positive experience, mostly in terms of continuing their process of improvement and providing plenty of playing time for some of their younger players. Star deep cutter Matt Rehder missed Sunday’s game when his ankle felt mediocre during warmups, and the Cascades were also without several other key pieces like Donnie Clark and Ray Illian. Meanwhile, the young kids stepped up. Zane Rankin and Sam Lehman teamed up for the adventurous tying goal, while 18-year-old Sam Cook made the greatest play of the day earlier in the fourth quarter. With less than six minutes left, Cook authored a dynamite full-extension layout for a score that brought Seattle within one. “I had complete faith in Sam Cook as that disc went up,” said Karlinsky. “Just felt the energy of the game shifting our way at that point, and he wasn’t going to let that stop.” With all due respect to Karlinsky, from my vantage-point, I did not envision Cook making the grab. When he did, I was astounded. I have not seen everything in the league this week, but I will say this: If AJ is #1 and LA’s Jeff Silverman is #2, then Sam Cook probably deserves the bronze position in this week’s AUDL Top 10.
Originally posted on http://theaudl.com/articles/ata/tuesdaytoss11