Photo by Brian Canniff – UltiPhotos.com
The Philadelphia Spinners will play the most important contest during their time in the MLU when the Boston Whitecaps come to town on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Sweeney Field on the campus of St. Joseph’s University.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for these two teams. The Spinners received a gift from the D.C. Current last weekend when D.C. beat Boston to hand Boston its fourth loss of the season. After the Spinners handled business in New York, Philadelphia took a hold of its destiny going into the final two games of the season. If the Spinners beat Boston at home for the second time this season and win next week versus D.C., then they are in the playoffs.
This is a new Spinners offense compared to the one that took the field in the Week 1. Cutter Jake Rainwater is finally healthy and back to top form, Matt Esser has found his comfort zone by playing the most points of anyone in the entire league and Nick Hirannet is playing like a man possessed.
The last time these teams met, Hirannet went off, completing 64 of his 66 throws, while Rainwater, Esser and Patrick Diviney each totaled seven points.
Diviney is currently listed as questionable. He didn’t practice this week.
Still, last weekend, the offense looked as good as it has all year. Hirannet went off for nine assists, Rainwater posted eight points of his own, and rookie Marcus Ranii-Dropcho, who joined the team just two weeks ago, added seven points of his own.
Despite it being his best statistical game of the season, Hirannet said that Philadelphia isn’t doing anything different on offense — the Spinners are just finally executing.
“Truthfully, I try not to think about those things,” Hirannet said. “When you think about the stats, you start to play for the stats, and I never want to do that. I want to play to win and win as a team. If stats are good at the end of a game, it means our team played well, we played in our system, guys made the right cuts and the right throws. Roles haven’t changed, we’re just finally starting to click as a team and that’s why you see good results on paper.”
The results on paper have been strong of late, and the infusion of the college talent from the University of Pittsburgh, one of the best ultimate schools in the country, cannot be understated. Ranii-Dropcho, Max Thorne, Trent Dillon, Jonah Wisch and Patrick Earles have added energy to the lineup. While Ranii-Dropcho is the standout — the type of player who can come onto a roster and put up a seven-point performance two weeks later — each of the five players have made significant contributions.
“These guys are wonderful players and fantastic teammates,” Hirannet said. “As we’ve spent more time together on and off the field we’ve started building that bond that you absolutely need. Every game those guys get more comfortable out there, more comfortable with the team and they start to do their thing. They’re all so highly skilled all it takes is for them to get comfortable with their teammates and with the system and they start making plays. You’re seeing that happen now.”
Dillon has played well on defense thus far, and his presence will be needed even more on Saturday. Frederick Brasz and Leon Chou will be out for the Spinners on Sunday, taking away two of their best defensive handlers. Look for Gabe Colton to step up and lead the handlers when the Spinners get a break opportunity.
Last time these teams met up, the crowd at Sweeney Field was rocking, and if that can happen again, the chances of a Spinners’ win will increase dramatically.
“Last time, the crowd was incredible and the atmosphere was just what we needed to push us to the win,” Hirannet said. “If we can get that kind of support from our fans this week, it will go a long way. Believe me, we want to win for them just as much as they want to see us win.”
Join the Spinners this Sunday, June 15 for a free tailgate featuring the MLU Fan Zone at 12:00 p.m. ET at Sweeney Field followed by the game against the Boston Whitecaps. Click here for more information about the event.