AUDL Throwaround: Madison Falls At Home, Homecooking in NY, Pittsburgh Shocks Chicago

Will Drake curse the Empire?

Did you think we’d seen some crazy upsets last week? It couldn’t hold a candle to the action from Week 6, which included a stunning streak stopper from Minnesota. Let’s throw it around.

The Scores

Ottawa 24-25 Toronto
San Diego 
27-21 Los Angeles
Minnesota 20-21 Madison
Chicago 18-21 Pittsburgh
DC 25-26 (2OT) New York
Seattle 19-24 San Jose
27-22 Indianapolis
Dallas 25-21 Austin
Raleigh 24-19 Tampa Bay

Standings Through Week 6

Midwest Falls into Chaos

After a week where we thought we gained clarity in the Midwest Division playoff race, everything was thrown into chaos once again. Pittsburgh added some top-tier talent by signing Tyler Degirolamo, who played almost entirely defense in the Thunderbirds’ upset win over Chicago. Pittsburgh, who came into the game winless, is now right back in the playoff hunt. Chicago looked extremely talented in their wins over Minnesota, but they’re a different team when they aren’t at full strength. With the tight grouping in the Midwest standings, could Pittsburgh’s two early losses be the thing that keeps them out of the playoffs?

Minnesota, who has strayed from their Sub Zero roots by adding rookies from Minnesota, Winnipeg, and Iowa, had the most impressive performance of the weekend, beating Madison in Madison. It was the first time the Radicals have lost at home in 2,190 days, a mind-boggling streak.

It was a game that started off like most Midwest division games in Madison do: the Radicals started off strong, going up 2-0 in the blink of an eye. Minnesota looked slow to start and Madison capitalized on it. But Minnesota was able to withstand Madison’s run and keep the game close through the first half into the third quarter.

With the clock running down at the end of the third quarter, Madison coughed up the disc, giving Minnesota a chance to go up by one going into the fourth. Minnesota sent the disc deep and Isaac Leonard brought it in right near the back line. He was ruled out of bounds, but Madison’s Pat Shriwise made an integrity call, saying he forced Leonard out of the end zone. This gave Isaac Leonard one untimed throw on Madison’s goal line. A scoober through a double team to Brandon Matis gave the Wind Chill the lead going into the fourth, when they would be receiving.

The fourth quarter proved to be the coming out party for Iowa State’s Josh Poterack. The recent Nationals qualifier made a massive layout block over the back of his mark while making zero contact. Poterack got another layout block to help the Wind Chill fend off a late push from Madison. The Wind Chill would hold off the Radicals and secure a 20-19 victory.

With Atlanta coming north and beating Indianapolis in a cross-divisional game, everything we thought we knew about Indianapolis might be in flux. Atlanta, who is likely not a playoff team in the South Division, pretty easily beat Indianapolis on the road. That’s a bad look for Indy, who certainly started the season with high hopes.

Midwest division fans are in for a fun season. Every game between every team but Detroit looks like it’s going to matter going forward. With so much parity right now, it’s tough to know which team will emerge as top dog.

-Tanner Jurek

New York Outlasts DC in Controversial Double OT Finish

In a week full of wild finishes and crazy results, this one might just top them all: the Empire topped the Breeze 26-25 in second overtime on double game point.

Tied at 25, New York received to start the second overtime with a score from either team set to end the contest. The Empire worked it all the way to the goal line before Grant Lindsley dropped an inside throw from Ben Katz in the end zone. Possession went to the Breeze. What happened next was a combination of poor officiating and a clear lack of knowledge of the rules by everyone involved.

Rowan McDonnell attempted to call a timeout on his own goal line, which the referees told him afterward resulted in a turnover because DC did not have any timeouts remaining after using one in the first overtime period. However, the AUDL rulebook states it clearly: “Each team has exactly 1 timeout in each and every overtime period.” The turnover gave New York the disc back on the goal line and set up the game-winning goal.

“I called a timeout after we got the disc in double OT and then they called it a turnover because we used our timeout in the first OT. Then on our way home we read the rule that technically we do get a new timeout in double OT,” said McDonnell. “It was a human error and we’ll live! To be fair, myself (and our whole team) didn’t know the rule either. [It] was a fun and exciting game throughout.”

The controversy that embroiled the end of the game marred what was an otherwise epic contest. Ben Jagt was otherworldly in the game. He scored eight goals, threw nine assists, and added a block for one of the best statistical performances in the history of the AUDL. It was a significant step up from his season-opening two-goal, three-assist performance against DC. Harper Garvey facilitated the offense once again as well, completing 62 of 64 passes with three goals and three assists.

Despite being on the wrong end of the controversy, McDonnell had another phenomenal outing with seven goals and five assists. Nate Prior is also making a case for one of the most unsung heroes of the season. He had a pair of goals and a pair of assists, but more impressively, he completed 74 of 75 passes. On the season, he has just three throwaways on 205 completions.

DC seems to be closing the gap on New York. After dropping the first contest by three, the Breeze pushed the Empire to the brink and very reasonably could have come away with the road win. Instead, they fall to 2-2. Heading into a crucial back-to-back Canadian road trip, DC has a chance to put the unfortunate loss behind them with a pair of wins against Ottawa and Montreal.

On the other side, we will finally get the hotly anticipated Empire-Rush rematch after last year’s wild Eastern Division final. With the two teams sitting as the only undefeated teams left in the league, it’s absolutely the marquee matchup of the season so far.

-Chris McGlynn

Top 10!

Top 10 Plays

Toronto Escapes Disastrous Loss

Shortly before the crazy that unfolded in New York, Toronto hosted Ottawa in a classic trap game for the Rush. The kings of Canada had never lost to the Outlaws before and had a matchup with the Empire on the horizon. Toronto very nearly got caught looking ahead, narrowly beating Ottawa 25-24 after a late-game Outlaws collapse.

Ottawa hung around through a closely-contested first half, trailing 14-13 at halftime. Once again, Alec Arsenault flashed all-star skills, putting in a great individual effort to finish the game with 10 goals. Toronto has shown instances of failing to lock down a key opposing cutter before, after giving up eight goals to Quentin Bonnaud in its matchup with Montreal.

As the third quarter wore on, there were definitely signs of concern for the Rush defense. Ottawa looked very comfortable offensively and, with 1:35 to go in the third, broke Toronto to tie the game at 17. Toronto’s Thomson McKnight closed the quarter with a filthy upline move to score the final goal of the period, but the lack of sufficient defensive pressure from the Rush was a sign of what was to come.

The Outlaws broke to start the fourth, tying the game again at 18. Already the advantage of McKnight’s final goal had been wiped out. Just as Toronto seemed to be searching for answers, Akifumi Muraoka stepped up with a pair of goals on each of the next two offensive points. While the offense settled in, the defense still could not slow down Ottawa. The Outlaws matched each of Toronto’s scores, knotting things up at 21.

That’s when the wheels fell off for the Rush. Ottawa broke to take its first lead of the game on a long cross-field flick from Geoff Bevan. Another short field turnover from Toronto led to a Greg Ellis goal and suddenly history was in reach for the Outlaws. Up 23-21 with under four minutes to play, Ottawa was finally within reach of a victory over Toronto.

Cam Harris scored one of his three goals on the afternoon to pull Toronto within one. Before the three minute mark even hit, Iain McKenzie had broken back for the Rush and suddenly it was a tie game again. Ottawa mistakes started to pile up. Erik Hunter turfed a swing throw, and Toronto marched the disc into the endzone with a Jacky Hau score. The Outlaws two-point lead had vanished almost as quickly as it had materialized as now Ottawa tried to recover.

Finally, the Outlaws managed a hold, though not a clean one: another ill-advised throw cost Ottawa valuable time. With the game tied at 24, Toronto held for the last throw: Harris boxed out the defender so well that he fell over. The Rush won on an anticlimactic buzzer-beater to avoid what would have been the most troubling loss in the franchise’s history.

For Toronto, there is no question it needs to step up its defensive pressure, both with its starting defense on the field and when the offense turns it over. The Outlaws averaged 14.6 goals per game entering the contest and hung 24 on the Rush. It is a troubling trend for a Toronto team about to face its biggest test of the season.

Despite Ottawa’s valiant effort, their record falls to 0-4 and their season is on life support. There are reasons for optimism with the emergence of Jeremy Hill and the continued excellence of Arsenault and Ellis, but the Outlaws desperately need to win their next game against the Breeze to have any hope of competing for a playoff spot.

-Chris McGlynn

San Diego Leads Division Halfway Through the Season

The San Diego Growlers positioned themselves in first place in the AUDL West division with a 27-21 win over the Los Angeles Aviators.

Los Angeles started the game on a 3-0 run as the Growlers made execution errors in the swirling wind. Jeff Silverman caught a tipped disc for a Callahan on a swing pass that floated in the wind.

San Diego crept back, though, scoring on a first quarter buzzer beater and the first three points of the second quarter to take their first lead. The teams traded points to 12-12 before the Growlers put the game away with a 5-0 run midway through the third quarter. Los Angeles was never able to recover.

Sean McDougall continued his impressive season, leading Los Angeles with six assists. Rookie Joc Jimenez tallied five goals and brought infectious energy to the team.

For San Diego, Steven Milardovich controlled the offense, throwing seven assists. Former Aviator Jesse Cohen scored six goals in his first game against the team he helped lead to Championship Weekend last season. Sean Ham also tallied six goals, giving him 23 so far on the season. He is just one goal behind league leader Jay Boychuk. The Growlers impressed most with their team defense. Twelve different players recorded a block, as Los Angeles never looked completely comfortable with the disc.

This win puts San Diego firmly in first place in the West, with a one game lead in the standings and two head-to-head wins over 2nd place LA. At the halfway point in the season, Los Angeles sits in second, but will have to fend off a charge up the wins column from San Jose to maintain playoff positioning.

-Alex Rubin

San Jose Tops Seattle

The San Jose Spiders defeated the Seattle Cascades 24-19, riding a 4-0 run straddling the 3rd and 4th quarter to pull away. Aside from that run, this was a very back and forth game with highlight plays from both teams.

The Spiders embraced their youth, as Rookies Keenan Laurence (six assists) and Mike Becich (six goals and three blocks) led the team. Munis Thahir was more likely than not to score, catching nine throws, five of them for goals. Laurence specifically impressed, making a series of impressive, flying catches in addition to showing off his throwing prowess. Shane Early caught a buzzer beater to end the first half on one of the rare throws Becich misread; otherwise the rookie out of Stanford was a bonafide deep threat.

Seattle’s stars led the way for the Cascades. Mark Burton (five assists) and Khalif El-Salaam (seven assists and one goal) filled the stat sheet. With Brad Houser and Kodi Smart unavailable this weekend and Jay Boychuk turning in a relatively quiet game, depth players like Peter Geertz-Larson (three goals) and Will Coffin (three goals and one assist) stepped into larger roles as Seattle’s offense did not skip a beat.

With the win, San Jose is improving at just the right time as a second half surge from the Spiders could push them into playoff position. The preseason favorite has not played its best yet, but with a full roster finally on the field San Jose has the talent to make a race out of the West standings.

-Alex Rubin

Los Angeles 99s and San Diego Wolfpack Play First Games in History

Professional women’s teams from Los Angeles and San Diego each played their first game in team history, falling to the Seattle Cascades, 16-12 and 18-12, respectively.

Quite the Sequence

Keenan Laurence layout and assist

In Wild Week, South Division Is Orderly 

The South Division saw traditional order restored this week, as Dallas resumed their dominance over Austin and Raleigh handed Tampa Bay its first loss. The Flyers, winners of five straight since their opening day defeat in Dallas, appear to be on their way to another playoff appearance, while the 2-1 Cannons will enter the meat of their season with an upcoming Texas road trip.

From the beginning of the game in the gorgeous House Park stadium in Austin, it was clear that the Sol were ready to fight for their lives in the third episode of the 2019 I-35 rivalry. Dallas was without some of its key contributors in Jay Froude and Dalton Smith but nonetheless brought a talented roster. The first quarter swung decidedly in Austin’s favor, with their defense scoring a break on the first point of the game on a cross-field backhand from Jimmy Zuraw to Josh Zdrodowski. They closed the quarter with a break as well, as AUDL blocks leader Mick Walter roofed his matchup at the buzzer for an 8-6 lead.

Dallas struck back quickly in the second quarter. A pivotal moment came when, with the game tied at 8-8, Matt Bennett lasered a 50-yard forehand around a defender for an apparent score but was called for a travel. The call allowed Dallas the time to set up a trap on Bennett, and his second attempt was point-blocked by Dallas’s Dillon Larberg, setting up a third straight break and a 9-8 lead for the Roughnecks. Later on in the quarter, Carson Wilder announced his presence for Dallas with a big sky on the goal line, which he followed up with a fabulous no look around-the-back toss to Abe Coffin for a score. Dallas held a tight lead, 14-13, at halftime.

Wilder No Look

The second half was, if anything, even more hotly contested. Both teams came out flying around on defense. The Roughnecks struck first on a smart poach block by Connor Ughetta, which led to a 17-14 advantage. Offsetting unsportsmanlike foul calls on the point marred an otherwise spirited game between the two teams, which share a number of club and college teammates. Austin got one break back near the end of the quarter on a tremendous block by rookie Mason Wuensch, who has been an athletic bright spot for the otherwise struggling Sol this season.

The fourth quarter was where the Roughnecks were finally able to gain separation from their rivals. Up 21-19 with about six minutes left, Chris Larberg got a piece of an Austin throw to send it to the turf, then floated to the end zone to receive a powerful hammer from brother Dillon for the bookends. A couple of beautiful throws by Brandon Malecek helped ice the game in the closing minutes for Dallas.

-Sean Brady

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    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

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