AUDL Throwaround: Favorites Dominate, Brunch Bonus

Favorites were dominant this week in the AUDL, as no lower ranked team score an upset in an eight-game slate. Aside from the South, where Tampa Bay has yet to face any of the top teams in the Division, we’re starting to see the favorites create some separation: New York, Madison, and San Diego are all undefeated.

Let’s dive in to this week’s action.

The Scores

Seattle 18-20 San Diego
Toronto 
19-13 Ottawa
Indianapolis 19-16 Detroit
Pittsburgh 22-25 Minnesota
New York
 25-16 Philadelphia
Raleigh 21-15 Atlanta
Seattle 19-25 Los Angeles
Montreal 19-23 New York

Standings through Week 4

Seattle Cascades Still Searching for First Win

The Seattle Cascades had a rough weekend trip in Southern California, dropping both of their games to remain winless on the season.

On Friday night, the Cascades led for much of the game but made some execution errors in the 4th quarter, opening the door for the Growlers’ 20-18 win. Seattle’s Jay Boychuk, usually a downfield threat, was a lot more involved in the backfield this week. With him at handler, Seattle had success when they took free throws quickly, something center handler Henry Phan excels at.

The Cascades defense was flying, bidding on almost every under and playing San Diego’s talented cutters incredibly close. Travis Dunn still made his mark, notching five assists and three goals. Ryo Senda also impressed with his speed to get open often in the deep space.

The San Diego Growlers, meanwhile, played a poachy defense to forces the Cascades into early mistakes before they figured out the zone look. This approach usually allows San Diego to open up a big lead early, but Seattle used the available swings without forcing much upfield early to combat the scheme.

San Diego broke early in the fourth quarter to take their first lead of the game. With the game tied at 18 with two minutes left, Kodi Smart placed a simple pass to Brad Houser too far in front for him to catch and the San Diego D-line worked in another break for the final two goal margin.

In their second game, Seattle did not have the energy to compete with a fresh Los Angeles Aviators team. Rookie phenom Danny Landesman scored seven goals to lead the team for the third game in a row.

The Aviators clinched the game with a 3+ minute, 53 completion fourth quarter possession, which drained the clock to under two minutes and left LA with a six goal lead, their ultimate margin of victory. The Aviators have the luxury of fielding two full, distinct defensive lines, allowing its defenders to play all-out on every point. This grinding style of play was too much for the Cascades to keep up with in their second game of a back-to-back.

Seattle again relied on Henry Phan (56/56 and five assists) and Jay Boychuk (five goals) to move the offense, but they could not pressure Los Angeles on defense the same way they did San Diego the night before. With the win, the Aviators stayed in second place, moving two games up on the San Jose Spiders, their opponent this weekend.

– Alex Rubin

Cascades Women’s Roster Opens Season With A Win

The Seattle Cascades women’s team beat the Portland Swifts 18-12 in an exhibition match. The event was a fundraiser for Portland Ultimate, with all proceeds going towards PU initiatives. The Cascades women’s team is competing in home and away games throughout April and May; opponents include Portland, Vancouver, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

– Alex Rubin

Minnesota Tops Pittsburgh In Overtime

Minnesota defeated Pittsburgh 25-22 in an overtime thriller. In a much improved Midwest division, Minnesota has proved to be squarely in the middle and sits at 1-1 on the season. Right now, Pittsburgh sits in the same spot they occupied last year, near the bottom of the division, only looking to be better than the Detroit Mechanix.

Minnesota and Pittsburgh have played in many close games over the years, and, despite new faces on both rosters, they played close again. Pittsburgh looked to be in control until a dropped disc in the fourth quarter at 18-18 allowed the Wind Chill to call a timeout, bring in the offensive line, and with one throw from Josh Klane to Bryan Vohnoutka put the Wind Chill in the lead. Klane, who leads the AUDL in assists per game (8.5), continues to be one of the most dynamic throwers in the league, hitting a lot of throws that most players wouldn’t even think about.

Speaking of throws that most players wouldn’t think about, with a two goal lead and just three minutes left on the clock, the Wind Chill looked ready to put the game away. A few ill advised throws gave the Thunderbirds the disc back with time to tie it up. The Wind Chill received the disc with the game tied at 21, worked it up field and got it in the hands of Klane, who took a hammer shot from near midfield that fell harmlessly to the ground. Minnesota would have had enough time to work it further up field, but Klane is always going to shoot when he sees a chance.

In overtime, Pittsburgh ran out of gas. Minnesota scored to start the overtime and put pressure on the Thunderbirds for the remainder of the period. Minnesota ended the overtime period with a three goal lead, the largest one either team had in the game.

Minnesota is a team that looks different on the roster but not so different on the field. Wind Chill coach, general manager, and part owner Ben Feldman so far looks to have replaced much of the Sub Zero core they lost in the offseason with lesser-known, similarly talented players from Minneapolis, the college division, and a big contingency from Winnipeg.

They just added two Iowa State players — Josh Poterack and Scott Hearne — after the team upset Carleton at the North Central College Regionals to qualify for the National Championships.

Conversely, Pittsburgh is a team that looks much improved from last year. They’ve added some talent back from the Pittsburgh ultimate community, and Max Sheppard looks better in a role that is allowing him to do more downfield cutting. Sheppard finished the game with six goals and four assists. After starting the season 0-2, he is going to need a Josh Klane or Pawel Janas-esque statline for the rest of the season to keep Pittsburgh in the running for a playoff spot.

– Tanner Jurek

Full Commitment

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New York Keeps on Rolling

The Empire faced its first back-to-back weekend of the year and easily won both games. It was not the traditional road swing many teams in the South and Midwest face. Instead, New York traveled down I-95 to take on Philly on Saturday before returning home for a contest against Montreal on Sunday. With the shorter seasons in place, the preseason title favorites are now a quarter of the way through the season and the level of talent it has at its disposal is becoming abundantly clear.

Coming off a bye week, New York looked fresh in its visit to Philadelphia. It was a windy affair, but the Empire took advantage of the conditions en route to a 25-18 drubbing of the Phoenix. Bryan Jones made the choice to move Harper Garvey out of his traditional offensive handler role and utilized him as a downwind puller for the duration of the game. Garvey is known for being a big-shot taker and his ability to pin Philly’s offense deep proved to be a useful advantage for the New York defense.

Ben Jagt shook off a poor first performance of the season, by his standards at least. The 2018 MVP candidate punched in five goals, tossed two assists, and added a block while committing just one turnover in an impressive showing. Mike Drost also showed up in a big way, posting a game-high +9 rating with three goals, four assists, and three blocks.

New York as a team came up with 19 blocks, offering a friendly reminder to the league this team is still very much rooted in its defensive mindset, despite the offseason acquisitions it made on the offensive side of the disc.

On the flip side, it has been a rough start to the season for the Phoenix, who now fall to 0-2. Philly never found much of an offensive rhythm throughout the contest. Ethan Peck had a rough day, completing just 67 percent of his passes and registering five turnovers. Peck is one of the Phoenix’s most talented players and they will need him to bounce back when they take on the Outlaws next.

There were a few bright spots, especially rookie Billy Sickles. He finished a monster day with five assists and three blocks. Eric Nardelli also chipped in a pair of blocks.

With the Royal visiting the Empire on Sunday, it was the first chance we had to see a new-look Montreal team this season. The Royal picked up a number of French international players. Quentin Roger and Sacha Poitte-Sokolsky headline the additions to a team already featuring former French standout Steve Bonneau.

The impact of these new players was immediately apparent. Roger and Poitte-Sokolsky combined for five goals and five assists against New York. It seems clear the pair will be heavily involved in the Montreal offense this season.

New York, though, built a steady lead into the second quarter and cruised to a 12-8 halftime lead. Jagt picked up right where he left off and put in a ridiculous four-goal, four-assist, two-block performance, all while not committing a turnover. Garvey and former Raleigh all-star Jack Williams each added four assists in what turned out to be a comfortable 23-19 victory for New York.

The all-around strength of the Empire was on full display over the course of the weekend. There is a good chance this team could run unchecked until its May 18th matchup with Toronto. New York takes a well-earned week off before hosting DC.

– Chris McGlynn

Brunch Bonus

Our own Simon Pollock had brunch in Seattle and got a little surprise with his check:

Toronto Still King of the North

In one of the most predictable games of the season so far, the Rush pushed past the Outlaws in some rough weather conditions 19-13. It was a low-scoring slog that saw Toronto in control for most of the contest.

Ottawa flashed some early signs of making it a competitive affair, taking a quick 2-0 lead. The Rush responded with six straight goals to immediately squash any early Outlaws momentum. Ottawa did draw within two again just before halftime, but Toronto showcased its depth and discipline, pulling away early in the second half.

In such a low scoring game, there were few truly noteworthy offensive performances. Geoff Powell had a team-high +4 rating for Toronto with two assists and two blocks. The Rush had six players who scored two goals. It is indicative of the balanced attack coach Sachin Raina has built over the past few years.

Ottawa continues to get solid contributions from a small group of players. Defensive mainstay Paul Renaud picked up three blocks, picking up right where he left off after his 17-block season a year ago. Greg Ellis put up four assists, as did Nick Boucher, surprising only because he holds the franchise record for blocks.

The Outlaws have long boasted a talented core featuring Ellis, Boucher, Karl Loiseau and Alec Arsenault, but consistently lack the depth necessary to compete with the top teams in the east.

Toronto will face some stiffer competition as it faces a visit from Montreal this weekend set for an AUDL Extra broadcast. It will be an interesting clash that could offer insight into whether the Royal’s offseason additions closed the gap on the Rush. The Outlaws face a road trip south for matchups with the Breeze and Phoenix, facing a very real prospect of opening the season 0-3.

– Chris McGlynn

Stay Out The Way

Babbitt Sky

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