Game 2 Recap: Wildfire at Windchill
April 16, 2016: Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Chicago Wildfire travelled to Minneapolis to get a chance to avenge their first loss of the season against the home Wind Chill. The game would live up to its billing as a battle between two rival teams and would lead to double overtime.
Unlike the cold and wet of the first matchup, beautiful sunny weather set the game time. Gusty breezes, however did still test the throws of all players, leading to another upwind-downwind battle early.
Chicago came out firing to start after a long, tiring first point, the Wildfire scored upwind. Quickly, scoring again downwind, Chicago went up 2-0.
But as usual, Minnesota was determined to hang around. Throughout the early part of the first half, each time the Chicago defensive line would get a break, the Minneapolis defensive line would respond to get it back.
Danny Miller was a critical player for the Wildfire offense early, catching several big goals, with Captain AJ Nelson driving the offense with his under cuts.
Minnesota, as they began to settle in, tested the Wildfire defense in the first half and Chicago had trouble getting a rhythm. Minnesota would combine long, driving cuts across the field with quick hucks, leading to lightning fast points that denied the Wildfire the opportunity for many chances. Minnesota’s ability to score quickly helped keep the game close as Chicago couldn’t pull away for a big lead. At the same time, the Wind Chill would force several turnovers near the upwind side, pressuring Chicago’s dumps, and getting their own chances.
Halftime saw Chicago up 11-9, but the Wind Chill knocked two quick ones after half to tie the game at 11 with the wind dying to almost nothing.
The third quarter was one of the strongest for the Chicago D-line. Neal Phelps played especially strong defense, getting multiple layouts for blocks in the back half, and the depth of Chicago helped drive to a 16-14 lead.
The game again went back and forth with trading points, until Minnesota made a last minute push off Chicago errors. Chicago had two chances to win the game at the end of regulation. With the disc in hand near the end zone, a questionable travel call by the referees denied Chicago the score. Only a few seconds later another call went Minnesota’s way with a tight block that easily could have been called a strip, again denying Chicago their chance to take the victory.
The Wind Chill scored with 42 seconds left to tie it at 19, and then almost scored on a Hail Mary with three seconds left, but Chicago defenders knocked it down to send the game to overtime.
The extra period started well for Chicago with a big layout block by Andrew Sheehan. The defense then quickly scored to take the 20-19. The second Chicago d-line would then lead an incredibly hard-fought point with multiple turns on both sides. Eventually, after good defense, Minnesota would outlast and score to tie it once more.
Minnesota would then force a turn and with less than a minute remaining in overtime, gain the disc and call a timeout in the center. They would work it steadily up to score and with only 9 seconds left they led 21-20.
But it wasn’t over yet.
Chicago tossed a massive Hail Mary of their own, with Adrian King bombing a beautiful shot that led to Geoff Serednesky making a critical skying grab with no time left on the clock.
Double-overtime meant sudden death and Chicago would receive the disc with the chance to win.
Chicago worked it steadily to midfield under tight pressure before sending a huck up that was mere inches too far for the Wildfire receiver.
The Wind Chill wouldn’t hesitate; taking the opportunity, the squad raced upline and upfield and eventually scored without a turnover, sealing the 22-21 double OT victory.
The loss was a heartbreaker for Chicago and there are even greater challenges ahead for the playoff hunt. But it is a long regular season, Chicago’s young squad has seen only greater improvement, and they continued their determination to fight on and persevere, ready to face off at home against Cincinnati next Saturday night.