Written by #24 Andrew Lynch
In the Cascades’ first of two matchups this season against San Jose, the Spiders used solid offensive play and a last second buzzer beater to defeat Seattle 27-26 and hand them their first loss of the season.
San Jose never trailed, and the Spiders’ stars Jackson Stearns, Evan Boucher, and Justin Norden all had impressive offensive games. Norden was especially effective, distributing from the handler set with ease and attacking deep as opportunities arose.
Playing shorthanded with an active roster of 19, Seattle leaned on strong overall performances by Brad Houser and Tommy Li to keep them in the game. The contest also marked the home debuts of Seattle’s two international signings, Daniel Montoya of Colombia and John Doherty of Ireland.
The Cascades offense was broken to start the game and again to make it 4-2, but settled down and ended the 1st quarter only down 6-5.
After a Spiders hold to start the 2nd, the Cascades’ youth movement got involved on O, with a nice deep shot coming from 18-year-old John Randolph to 20-year-old Zach Jackson. The D line had their chances but only converted a single break in the quarter, coming via a big hammer from Alex Duffel to Montoya after a nice layout D from Cam Smith-Bailey. Meanwhile, the Spiders’ D line was able to capitalize on slight execution errors from the Cascades, who went into halftime trailing 14-11.
In the 3rd quarter, the Cascades broke twice to tie things up at 16’s thanks to renewed energy on the defensive side. Offensively, Seattle found a groove, with improved accuracy on deep shots from Mark Burton. They were aided by Smith-Bailey, who ran down a long Mario O’Brien huck and made an incredibly explosive play to save possession before finding the end zone for a goal. The Cascades would go into the final period of play down 19-18.
The Spiders started the 4th quarter on offense and hold to go up by 2. The teams traded holds back and forth for more than 10 minutes, with the pressure steadily rising on Seattle’s D line to get a break as the clock wound down. Finally, at 26-25, John Randolph came up with a huge block in the handler set before making a nice upline cut for the bookends and the tie score.
On the final point, Seattle’s grinding defense led to a miscommunication for San Jose and a heads up D for Sam Pickel. A time out allowed the Cascades to sub in the offensive line, but a floaty throw from Smith-Bailey would lead to a Spiders poach D with 12 seconds left. One timeout and a few short passes later, a blading crossfield forehand from the Spiders’ Chuck Cao found the endzone as time expired.
Despite the heartbreak of letting the chance at the win slip through their fingers, the Cascades are staying positive and looking towards their next matchup. Smith-Bailey took to Twitter after the game to let Cascades fans know he’s ready for his next matchup, saying, “my bad, world. I’ll be back though.”
The loss dropped Seattle to 2-1 and tied for 3rd place in the now-wide open West Division, which features four one-loss teams. The Spiders moved to 4-1 after going undefeated on their tour of the Pacific Northwest, and are now tied with the San Francisco Flamethrowers for 1st place.
The Cascades next home game is May 6th at 6:00 PM at Memorial Stadium, where they play the 2-0 Pittsburgh Thunderbirds as part of the AUDL’s Cross Coast Challenge. We hope to see you all out at the game!