April 22, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 18 comments
The American Ultimate Disc League kicked off league-wide games this week after a limited opening weekend. In contrast to Major League Ultimate, the AUDL results were all over the map, ranging from blowout wins to down-to-the-wire finishes. Consider the Madison Radicals: they got an impressive win over the league’s top-ranked team, the Windy City Wildfire, on the road 23-21 before falling on Sunday in double overtime to the #10 ranked Detroit Mechanix 25-24.
But the Radicals weren’t the only team to struggle in back-to-back games on the road. Every road team underperformed on Sunday, and we may see a new challenge for teams: getting up for the second game on the road with travel, little sleep, and fatigue getting in the way.
This is a known challenge in the NBA, where statistics show that teams more often lose that second game, for obvious reasons. Could this now become a challenge in the AUDL?
Here’s a look around the league this weekend:
– The Madison Radicals, despite missing much of their defensive line, came into Chicago and pulled off a gritty 22-21 victory over the Windy City Wildfire by slowing down Brodie Smith, who lit up the Revolution last weekend in Cincinnati. Andrew Brown led the way with five assists on 50 touches with a 96% completion percentage, an impressive number given the cold conditions.
But the Radicals had to leave Chicago and drive five hours to Michigan to face a reinforced Detroit Mechanix team now featuring Ring of Fire player-coach Ken Porter. Tired Madison legs gave way to lots of zone, which didn’t slow down Detroit inside the wind-free, domed field complex. Porter was a beast on defense, getting some huge athletic blocks, as Dave Hochhalter again ran the show on offense, piling up seven assists.
Madison’s lack of defensive players — many of whom are on the Wisconsin Hodags team preparing for Regionals — hurt them in this game, but it was still a surprise win from a Detroit team that got handled pretty easily by the Indy Alleycats last weekend. The players new to the league have never played in this single-game format before — and playing back-to-back while traveling makes it difficult to play your best both days.
– The Minnesota Wind Chill‘s weekend looked a lot like Madison’s. They went to Indianapolis to take on the Alleycats and managed to contain Cameron Brock en route to a 34-25 victory. Minnesota’s players may have been more prepared for the windy, 38 degree game. Kevin Seiler and James Hron played well for Minnesota, getting a handful of scores and assists on the offensive line. But you have to credit the defense, converting a lot of Indy turnovers into scores.
The Wind Chill then hit the road to play Cincinnati on Sunday. Tired legs meant an inability to slow down the Revolution’s offense, led by Isaac Jeffries who finished with five goals, four assists, two blocks, and just two turnovers.
Cincinnati led early, but Minnesota rattled off some breaks to take the lead midway through the first half before the Revolution went on a run of their own to lead at halftime by two. Cincinnati managed to just maintain that lead throughout the second half to win it 22-21. The Revolution got blown out last weekend by the Wildfire.
– In the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Rush were the big winners, coming out 2-0 on the weekend on the road. The only team to win the Sunday game of their back-to-back, they didn’t make it seem easy. They first played the DC Breeze, dominating the young team 30-13 and looking like the dominant team we expected to see heading into the season. With a relatively unknown Philadelphia Phoenix team on the docket for Sunday, another blowout was in the cards.
But the Rush struggled against the Phoenix, as Matt Esser led Philadelphia on both sides of the disc and helping the Phoenix to a two point halftime advantage. But the Rush did just enough to pull out a 26-25 win, spreading out the scoring across their talented roster. Isaiah Masek-Kelly had a big game for the Rush, with three important goals in the fourth quarter to lead his team to a perfect start to their season.
– The Rochester Dragons also hit the road this week, stopping in Manhattan to face the New York Empire, a game produced by Ultiworld. The Empire simply had a more athletic team, using their speedy cutters Husayn Carnegie and Izzy Bryant to great effect. Carnegie scored the first three Empire goals of the game, and assisted on the fourth. Bryant finished with four goals, four blocks, and three scores to lead the Empire to a 23-14 win.
The Dragons went next door to New Jersey to face the Hammerheads on Sunday. A fresher NJ team rolled through the Dragons as well, closing it out 29-13. Anthony Sapachino and Albert Alarcon played well for the Hammerheads, and showed that they are a contender in the Eastern Conference.