AUDL Week 5 Recap: Upset City

The DC Breeze versus the New Jersey Hammerheads in the AUDL.
Photo by Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

Any given Sunday: it’s becoming a relevant phrase in the AUDL now. Underdogs, playing at home, notched some big upsets this week, shaking up the playoff picture and setting up teams with some critical games over the next three weeks.

The Wildfire were the only road team to win this weekend, as they and the Rush start to pull away in their respective divisions. But the other playoff spots look more wide open than ever.

EASTERN DIVISION

Rochester Dragons 21 – 20 New York Empire

On the road for the first time this season, the New York Empire came up short in overtime against a much-improved Dragons team in Rochester on Saturday, 21-20.

With Jack Marsh, Izzy Bryant, and Seth Canetti out of the lineup, the Empire couldn’t take care of the disc, finishing with 39 turnovers. Porter Bishop had a game-high eight giveaways on just 35 touches.

TJ Burns was excellent again for the Dragons, recording five goals, two assists, and a block. Rochester never trailed in the game.

But they did have to survive a big late comeback from the Empire who, down 18-13 in the fourth quarter, rattled off four straight to get back into the game, then tacked on another break to tie the game at 19-19 to send it into overtime.

In the extra period, Rochester scored on offense, and then scored the decisive point as Burns found Joe Thompson to give the Dragons a two-point lead. The Empire scored the next point, but the clock ran out on their rally as the Dragons moved to 2-4 on the season. With the loss, the Empire fell back to .500 at 2-2.

DC Breeze 18 – 13 New Jersey Hammerheads

After jumping out to a 7-1 first quarter lead, the DC Breeze never looked back as they upset the New Jersey Hammerheads on Mother’s Day 18-13 to move to 2-3 on the year.

The Hammerheads, like many of the road teams this weekend, couldn’t shake off the rust in the early goings and, despite playing much better throughout the remainder of the game, never had a shot at a win.

TJ Ryan had a huge game for the Breeze, pulling down lots of scores deep and manhandling the Hammerheads defense.

Wind was a major factor in the game, and the Breeze, appropriately, handled it better. Marquez Brownlee had a strong game for New Jersey, but turnovers cost them the game in the first quarter.

New Jersey, widely expected to be competing for the second spot in the East this season, have now lost four straight and find themselves at the bottom of the division. They have a critical home game next weekend against the slumping Empire.

Toronto Rush 16 – 9 New York Empire

In a cold, windy, hailstorm-afflicted game, the Toronto Rush persevered with a comfortable 16-9 win over the Empire to tack on another win to their undefeated record (6-0). Cam Harris and Mark Lloyd were unstoppable for the Rush, who never trailed in the game.

The Empire again gave away early breaks, leading to a quick 3-0 deficit that only grew from there.

The game was notable for its bizarre weather, including hail, rain, a lightning delay, sunny skies, and high wind.

The Rush are now three games ahead of the Philadelphia Phoenix (2-1), the second place team in the East. The Phoenix had their Saturday game against the Hammerheads canceled due to inclement weather.

MIDWESTERN DIVISION

Windy City Wildfire 18 – 15 Minnesota Wind Chill

The Wildfire handed Minnesota their fifth straight loss with an 18-15 victory in Minneapolis. Windy City continued to use their biggest playmakers — Brodie Smith and AJ Nelson — heavily throughout the game. Smith finished with eight assists (but seven turnovers) and Nelson added 6 goals. Nelson, the AUDL’s leading scorer, now has nearly double the goals of the Alleycats’ Cameron Brock, who sits in second place.

The windy game made for mostly downwind scores and a tight game, but, trailing 9-8 in the second half, the Wildfire used a three point run to pull ahead for good.

Windy City got their fourth straight win, and were also the only road team to win this weekend in the AUDL.

Windy City Wildfire 16 – 15 Madison Radicals

On Sunday, the Wildfire would take a commanding lead in the Midwest Division, as they hung on to beat the Radicals 16-15 in Madison for their fifth straight win.

The win evened the season series at one win a piece; the Radicals took the first meeting at Chicago’s home opener 22-21.

Brodie Smith did not play for the Wildfire, but the rest of the offensive line filled in ably in his absence. AJ Nelson had two goals and four assists, and Cullen Geppert had three and three.

The game was very close for much of the game, with multiple lead changes and momentum swings. But the Wildfire, much like in the Minnesota game, went on a run in the second half, this time extending a 9-8 lead to 13-8. But Madison did not go away quietly. They had two 3-0 runs of their own to get to 16-15, but the clock ran out on their comeback as they fell to 3-2 on the season.

Pat Shriwise had a big game for the Radicals, finishing with four goals, two blocks, and an assists on no turnovers.

Cincinnati Revolution 17 – 10 Detroit Mechanix

The Revolution (3-3) got a second straight win over the Mechanix (3-3) this weekend, getting them back to .500 for the first time since week 2.

Chris Powers had five assists and Isaac Jeffries had four goals for Cincinnati as they stifled the Detroit offense on their home turf. This was by far Detroit’s lowest scoring performance of the year, as they faced the windy Cincinnati conditions.

Things started off smoothly for the Mechanix, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But the Revolution scored four straight to answer and never looked back. They led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter and 11-5 at halftime. Both teams were sloppy with the disc early in the second half, leading to long, grueling points.

The win was an important one for the Revolution, who are now tied for third in the Midwest Division with the Mechanix, just half a game back from the Radicals.

The Indianapolis Alleycats had a bye week.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

– The Revolution¬†go into three back-to-back games against the Indianapolis Alleycats over the next two weeks. With two games at home in the second weekend, they’ll be looking to take the season series to be on track for a playoff berth. X factor: By then, Indy, a team that badly needs wins, should have Cameron Brock back in the lineup, after he was cleared by doctors after a rare brain hemorrhage kept him out last week.

– The Mechanix play tough back-to-back road games next week against Madison and Minnesota. A 1-1 trip would have to be considered a success. Minnesota will be hungry for wins as they look to claw back into playoff contention.

– The Empire travel to New Jersey for a rivalry game, and an important one for both teams. Coming off of a rough 0-2 road trip, the Empire need a win to get back to .500. New Jersey needs to get something going to have any shot at the playoffs.

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