In his first season in the league, Brendan Wong has broken the Major League Ultimate record with 36 goals.
‘Brendo’ probably said it best in an earlier interview.
“I love to score.”
Perhaps that’s the number one reason the Vancouver Nighthawks star has set the record, with two games left in the season to extend the mark. But no matter how much you enjoy scoring, you can’t rack up the goals, particularly with the facility Wong does, unless you have a number of arrows in your quiver.
Fellow Nighthawks cutter Mark Leduc, who led the Nighthawks in scoring last year and is second to Wong this year, went to high school with Wong, and they have played on the same club team since 2007, so he has seen Wong’s play evolve over the years.
“For an outside observer, it would be easy to say that the reason Brendon scores so much is just that he can run really fast and can jump out of the gym,” says Leduc. “While that’s true, and is one of the reasons that his teammates love throwing to him deep, there are a handful of other, less obvious reasons why he scores as much as he does.”
Leduc zeroes in on three aspects of Wong’s play: his intelligence, persistence and throws.
“Brendon is also a doctor and he puts his big brain to use on the field,” says Leduc. “Through both his experience and knowledge, he just knows where to be on the field to always be a threat to score.”
“If you look through the game film for every game this year, I don’t think you’ll catch a moment where Brendo either just gives up on a play or just assumes that the point is over until someone is in the end zone holding the disc in their hands. In many situations where the disc would otherwise have hit the ground, you’ll find Brendo either making a play on a floaty disc or scooping up a disc that others misread.”
Here’s a perfect example from the Nighthawk’s win last weekend of what Leduc is referring to. A hammer aimed at his teammate in the end zone gets deflected, but there he is to make a huge layout and come up with the disc. Meanwhile, the opponent who had been marking him is standing there watching him score.
In addition to his 36 goals, Wong also contributes with his throws, already racking up 14 assists. This lethal combination of scoring and passing puts him a full 10 points ahead in the overall scoring race, a deficit that is extremely unlikely to be made up in the remaining two games.
“It’s hard to justify backing someone substantially when they can also throw as well at Brendo does,” says Leduc.
At first glance, the play on which Wong scored the record-breaking goal is nothing special. Following the disc down the field, he is nowhere in sight until he trots into the end zone to make an easy catch of Leduc’s pass.
The first pass at the beginning of the play is made after Vancouver picks up a turnover near their end zone. At the bottom of the screen in black leggins, Wong starts heading up the field as his teammates work the disc. Just as the second pass of the series is completed to Gagan Chatha near midfield, Wong has the smarts to spot the opportunity that will occur a few passes later, and suddenly turns on the speed to break past a defender and into the clear.
As Chatha moves the disc to Handler John Norris, Wong continues his cut. Meanwhile, Leduc has also spotted the opportunity to break into the clear, and Norris throws him a nice sidearm that he catches just before the end zone. Leduc immediately turns and puts it on a platter for Wong to make an easy catch for the goal.
“I just kept running straight along the line I was already going on,” says Wong. “I was striking for Norris not realizing Leduc was already down field.”
“When I saw Norris throw it and then turned to look for the disc, I realized Leduc was already there. (I hadn’t spotted him until then.) Leduc made a spectacular adjustment while running downfield and spun around to make a great grab. I had the easy job of taking a few more steps to receive the pass in the end zone.”
“I was not at all surprised to see Brendo there,” says Leduc, “as evidenced by the fact that the disc was out of my hand less than a second after I caught it. In fact, I can recall several instances this year when that exact same situation has occurred. Here’s a perfect example. Like I mentioned previously, he won’t stop running until someone has the disc in the end zone.”
This was a seemingly routine goal that illustrates perfectly the smarts and physical skills that have propelled Wong to setting the MLU scoring record. But as with the rest of his teammates, such individual achievements, however outstanding, are meaningless without achieving team goals.
“Setting the record really means nothing to me unless we’re winning games on the way to qualifying for the playoffs,” says Wong. “We have more games to focus on so I’m concentrating on winning them rather than worrying about how many goals I’ve scored compared to my teammates or opponents.”
Sure, Brendan Wong loves to score, but for him it’s all about the wins.
You can catch Wong, Leduc and the rest of their teammates at the Nighthawks’ game against the Portland Stags on Sunday, June 15 at 6 p.m at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Stadium.