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I’m just sad that the fans didn’t get the chance to see what we can really do —McCord Larsen, Lions head coach

Friends, family and fans filled the stadium at Taylorsville High School on a warm spring evening to watch the Salt Lake Lions, Utah’s first professional ultimate disc team, take on the Vancouver (British Colombia, Canada) Riptide. It was the Lions’ first game as an organization.

The Riptide won the opening toss and elected to receive the first “pull” of the game, similar to a kickoff. They scored on their first possession and never looked back, shellacking the Lions 28-14.

“I’m just sad that the fans didn’t get the chance to see what we can really do,” said McCord Larsen, head coach of the Lions.

Isaac Conley scored for the Lions on their first possession of the game, knotting up the score at 1-1 just 40 seconds into the contest. The game was fast-paced, high-tempo and high scoring throughout, but unfortunately for the Lions, the Riptide did most of the scoring. By the end of the first quarter, the Riptide led 7-3.

It didn’t get much better for the Lions in the second quarter, as they fell behind by nine, 16-7.

“You know, it was our first game,” said Doug Stenclik, a cutter for the Lions. “Very few of us have played together before tonight. I think we can run with any of these guys, we’re definitely athletic and good enough players.”

Halftime lasted for 15 minutes, and the teams went at it again. George Voellinger and Ben Jones each had two spectacular catches for points, and at the very end of the third quarter, the Lions went for a 60-yard pass with time expiring. The Lions dropped it in the end zone, but got fouled so they retained possession. Ten seconds were added to the clock, and Trevor Harper scored to cut the deficit to 22-13.

“The third quarter looked a lot more like us,” said coach Larsen. “I think we have even more versatility than we thought, and I think we can utilize that more going forward. We saw some big plays by some unexpected people.”

Salt Lake just fell apart in the fourth quarter, however. Vancouver started pouring on the points, and the Lions couldn’t catch a break, with drop after drop in the end zone. The Lions finished the game with nine drops in the end zone.

“We would have been right in this game if those drops were catches,” Stenclik said. “It’s something that everybody here has done 1,000 times, and they can do it tomorrow.”

The Lions were shut out in the fourth quarter, besides one lone point as time expired to set the final score. Larsen blamed the lackluster fourth quarter on poor execution.

“I don’t mind a loss, as long I feel like I got beat,” Larsen said. “I do mind when we beat ourselves, and I think that was the most frustrating thing. We just dropped the disc, and that’s really frustrating. I don’t think we should have lost this game, but we did.”

Voellinger led the Lions with three points, while James Fiala and Jones scored two apiece.

The Lions will host the Riptide again Sunday at Taylorsville High School. The game starts at noon.

Notes and observations from the game:

  • Children ages 12 and under get into the game for free.
  • Anyone can get in with a pass of all passes.
  • The crowd was loud and great. Both Larsen and Stenclik commented on how great the crowd was.
  • It was a very family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Some of the players wear hats throughout the game, some don’t. It’s a laid-back but up-tempo game.
The starters for the Lions were Doug Stenclik, George Voellinger, James Fiala, Russ Barr, Jack Kingsley, Spencer Brown and Jimmy Budnik.

Follow Trent Christiansen on Twitter @TheRealTrento.