Teams are asserting themselves in divisional title races...except in the Midwest.
June 21, 2019 by Ultiworld in Coverage, Recap with 0 comments
Throughout this AUDL season, Ultiworld will be publishing a weekly Throwaround, a chance for you to catch up on the amazing, funny, and interesting moments that you might have missed from the weekend’s games.
As we pass the midpoint of the AUDL season, there’s plenty of intrigue as playoff races start to heat up.
Playoff spots in the East and the Midwest remain up for grabs, and there are some huge games coming up that will likely decide home field advantage in the South and West.
We missed a week of throwing it around for the College Championships, so we’re back with a two-week catchup!
Dallas 25-20 Tampa Bay
Philadelphia 14-19 New York
Ottawa 21-20 Montreal
Toronto 22-23 DC
Madison 19-21 Minnesota
Los Angeles 18-17 San Diego
Dallas 18-27 Raleigh
Seattle 26-25 San Jose
Detroit 16-24 Chicago
DC 21-16 Philadelphia
Standings Through Week 11
Midwest Continues Chaotic Season
With Indianapolis off for the week and Pittsburgh and Chicago taking care of Detroit, the Midwest Division spotlight was on Minnesota as Madison came to town. After they took down Madison for the first time in what seemed like forever, most thought the Radicals would be looking for revenge against their Midwest rivals. That’s did not come to pass, as the Wind Chill took down Madison in fairly easy fashion.
At 6-6, Madison had the opportunity to take their first lead of the game. An underthrown pass gave the Wind Chill the disc back. They marched it down the field quickly to make the score 7-6. This was the big turning point of the game. Minnesota went on to score four straight, and were up 11-6 at half after a huge sky by Jimmy Kittleson. Minnesota got the big win as the season nears the playoffs.
If we’re not in crunch time in the Midwest, we’re about a week away, and Madison is on the hot seat. Sitting right above Detroit, Madison is looking at a gauntlet of Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Minnesota in the next three weeks. They’ll face a tough road and have very little room for error if they want to return to the playoffs. With four games remaining, they’ll need to win three to have a chance and all to feel comfortable. With three of four remaining games at home, they’d normally feel very comfortable, but Breese Stevens Field in Madison is no longer the impenetrable fortress it once was. Minnesota and Indianapolis have both won in Madison this year, so Chicago and Pittsburgh should feel unafraid.
The division is going to come down to roster composition, travel arrangements, and who can steal games on the road. With how close these teams are, the teams that are most physically and mentally prepared will come out on top. Can Detroit steal one and make the division even more interesting? Time will tell.
DC Proves It Is a Contender
In a jam packed weekend, featuring the rare home and away combo, DC pulled off impressive wins over Toronto and Philadelphia. Improving to 6-4, DC has put themselves in control of their destiny to host a playoff game.
Toronto got off to a sluggish start when visiting DC for the Game of the Week. Drops and overthrows plagued its first couple of offensive points, allowing DC to earn an early break. Then the errors flipped the Breeze’s way, and the Rush immediately pulled back on serve. While there were some great defensive plays, the majority of the turnovers in the game were unforced. DC and Toronto combined for 38 turnovers, but just 15 blocks. Both teams ended up earning a pair of breaks in the first quarter, as DC emerged with a 5-4 lead.
Then came the offensive explosion from Toronto. Cam Harris started it off by skying Ray Mendoza to even the scoreline. Isaiah Masek-Kelly reeled in a diving grab for a break and then Akifumi Muraoka intercepted a swing passed and lofted it to Jason Huynh for another goal. In the blink of an eye, the Rush had a 7-5 lead. Perhaps it was the absence of coach Daryl Stanley, away coaching the U-24 team in Colorado, but the Breeze did not look sharp. Thankfully for DC, Toronto could not seem to go too long without committing mental errors. Instead of building on the lead, the game was tied at 7-7 after the Rush had a drop and throwaway on the same point to give back a break. As it turned out, this was just in time for DC to find its groove offensively and for the Max Cassell show to begin. Cassell scored three straight holds for the Breeze. He would go on to finish the day with nine goals.
Both teams continued to trade to a 12-12 scoreline at halftime with Jeff Wodatch hammering to Matt Cullom to beat the buzzer. Neither side played particularly clean ultimate and essentially went into halftime with a clean slate considering the tie score. After such a rocky first half, both teams came out firing on all cylinders offensively. The first eight points of the second half were all holds until Nathan Hirst hit Thompson McKnight upline to retake the lead for the Rush at 17-16. Hirst made another highlight play on the next Toronto offensive possession with a full extension grab in the end zone. The Rush seemed to be settled in and focused in all facets.
As was the theme of the night, neither team could truly pull away. Harris could not keep his feet in bounds to secure a hold. It was one of the few times he could not make the play for the Rush all game, finishing with four goals and five assists in the contest. DC broke back the other way and held Toronto out of the end zone to close the quarter, taking a one-goal lead into the fourth. The frenetic scoring pace slowed down significantly in the final quarter of action. Both sides traded to 22-21, when a marathon point ended with a Breeze break. With just 2:13 to go, the Rush found themselves in hot water. Toronto took just over a minute to score and pulled to DC needing a break to force overtime. Instead, the Breeze marched it to the doorstep and simply ran out the clock for a crucial 23-22 victory.
It was a nailbiter throughout, with neither team leading by more than two points. So many AUDL games have been decided by who can build late momentum this year, and yet the game finished as a truly back and forth affair. Toronto dropped to 5-3, putting themselves in a tough situation to earn a home playoff game.
Following the big win over the Rush, the Breeze traveled north to face off with the Phoenix. Both teams were on the second day of a back-to-back, but found the energy to produce an exciting game from the first pull. DC earned an early break and seemed to be cruising. Nate Prior and Rowan McDonnell looked comfortable and patient running the show once again. The two combined for 91 completions, seven assists, and no turnovers.
Midway through the second quarter, Philly flipped a switch. Trailing 7-6, the Phoenix went on a 4-0 run to stun the Breeze. DC forced a couple of tough throws into the end zone, opening the door for Philly to strike. The Phoenix’s D-line offense completed a pair of deep shots to Mike Arcata and Matt Ballman in addition to a diving grab from Zach Sands to complete the run. The two sides traded to close the quarter with David Shields running down a jump ball at the buzzer to make it 11-9 at the half in favor of Philly.
The Breeze wasted no time pulling back level in the second half. Matt Neeley came up with a huge layout block to set up a break for DC. It proved to be a spark for the Breeze, who picked up two more breaks before the Phoenix managed their first goal of the half. For the second straight game, Philly struggled to keep pace in the third quarter. Giving up a buzzer beater on a misplayed disc in the end zone gave DC a four-goal lead heading into the fourth. The Breeze held at least a 3-goal lead the rest of the way and punched in a final break to seal a 21-16 win.
Sitting at 6-4, DC has two crucial games remaining against the same two teams it faced this weekend. A pair of wins would mean the Breeze host the East Division semifinal. DC may controls its destiny, but still has plenty of work to do.
With MyBookie.ag set to take bets on ultimate for the first time this week, here’s the lines, all -120. See anything you like?
- Philadelphia Phoenix v. DC Breeze (-6.5)
- Chicago Wildfire (-5.5) v. Detroit Mechanix
- Madison Radicals v. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (-1.5)
- Toronto Rush v. Montreal Royal (-1.5)
- New York Empire v. Raleigh Flyers (-1.5)
- Minnesota Wind Chill v. Indianapolis Alleycats (pk)
- Tampa Bay Cannons v. Dallas Roughnecks (-3.5)
- San Diego Growlers (-2.5) v. Seattle Cascades
- Los Angeles Aviators v. San Jose Spiders (pk)
- Tampa Bay Cannons v. Austin Sol (-1.5)
- Toronto Rush (-2.5) v. Ottawa Outlaws
New York Overcomes Another Slow Start
Another sluggish first half did not come back to haunt the Empire as it stayed undefeated with a 19-14 victory against the Phoenix. It is not the first time in recent weeks New York has failed to grab hold of the game in the early going. In its last game, facing the Breeze, the Empire struggled out of the gate, trailing by as many as five in the early stages of the second half.
Part of the reason for the slow start was a fairly subdued offensive attack for New York. Missing Grant Lindsley yet again, the Empire had a couple of unforced errors. Credit is due to the Phoenix defense, who consistently switched in both the handler space and downfield on the cutters. The result was a much less explosive showing than we are accustomed to seeing from New York.
Philly jumped out to an early 7-5 lead. The Phoenix were guilty of many of the same mistakes as the Empire, simply attacking into spaces already occupied by multiple players. It was a sloppy start to the game from both sides. Despite the lack of scoring, Billy Sickles stepped up for Philadelphia. The AUDL rookie became a fixture in the end zone and made a couple of excellent plays in the deep space leading to Phoenix goals. He went on to finish the contest with a team-high five goals. Not to be outdone, Ben Jagt caught fire once again. He scored early and often, but had a couple of miscues in the first half, including a dropped score that led to a Philly break. He got off to a hot start to the second half, scoring the opening goal to give New York the lead at 10-9.
Just as Jagt was heating up, the Phoenix offense started to fall apart. After allowing the opening hold, the Empire punched in three straight breaks to take a commanding 13-9 lead. Sensing a turning point, the New York defense buckled down the rest of the way, throwing a variety of poachy looks. Philly managed just one goal in the third quarter as New York held a comfortable 14-10 lead. Both teams traded throughout the final period of play en route to a 19-14 final. New York looked a bit tired, but managed to grind out an eighth win on the year. While it managed to put together an impressive showing from halftime on, there is real cause for concern for the Empire. Continuing to start slow could be a major flaw as the postseason draws near. Learning how to win tough is crucial for a team, but it is a trend New York would do best to move away from.
Roughneck Road Trip Ends 1-1
The Dallas Roughnecks left Texas hoping to put themselves in prime position to win the South again. After a comfortable win in Tampa, they were mauled by Raleigh, leaving the division still up for grabs.
After an exciting start to the game against the Cannons, Dallas took care of business with a strong defensive effort. They challenged Cannons All-Star Andrew Roney, who coughed the disc up five times during his six-assist performance. While they were broken to start the game, Kaplan Maurer earned their O-line a callahan goal on the next point. The game remained close until a run of four goals pushed Dallas’ lead to 13-9 in the opening points of the second half. Things never got closer than that, and Thomas Slack’s four-goal, four-assist effort led the way to a clean Roughneck win.
The host was must less welcoming in North Carolina; the Flyers took a 3-0 lead that soon developed into a 5-1 scoreline. After the Roughneck offense punished the Cannons in the deep space, they got a taste of their own medicine from the athletic Raleigh cutters, with Mischa Freystaetter and Jacob Fairfax each tallying six goals, and Terrence Mitchell chipping in another three. Fairfax and Freystaetter added in seven assists between them, having their way with the Roughneck defense. While Dallas brought it back to within two at 10-8, Raleigh scored seven of the next nine points, making it 17-10. They never looked back, closing the game 27-18.
The standings in the South paint a pretty picture for the Flyers. They sit atop the division at 7-1, while Dallas fell to 6-2, followed by a .500 Tampa Bay record. All three have more games against one another down the schedule, so the divisional crown is still very much in reach for both Dallas and Raleigh, but it’s now clear who has a firmer grip on it heading into the season’s final weeks.
Week 11 Top Plays
Aviators Finally Break Through
In the season series finale, the Los Angeles Aviators finally broke through against a gritty San Diego Growlers squad, defeating their southern neighbors 18-17. The teams traded holds to 3-3, at which point the Growlers broke to take a two goal lead. Defenses struggled to maintain pressure and both teams held until the end of the third quarter. Unlike previous games when they took leads and lost them, Los Angeles broke twice to take a 14-13 lead into the final frame. The LA offense in particular stood out as more patient against the San Diego zone. The Aviators handlers swung the disc quicker than they had in previous games to avoid throwing into poaches downfield. Nursing their small lead, the Aviators managed to hold off the potent San Diego attack and earned one more break (though the Growlers scored the last point of the game for the one-point final margin).
For the Aviators, Danny Landesman and Joc Jimenez led the way with four goals apiece. Jake Baumer was crucial to the defense, coming away with three blocks. Goose Helton was the star for San Diego, throwing five assists and pulling in three goals.
With the win, Los Angeles clinched a playoff spot and closed within one game of the Growlers for the division lead and the right to host the West Division playoff game, which we know will be a matchup of these two teams. With three games left in the season, a slip-up by either squad could mean a road game and a tougher path to Championship Weekend.
Ottawa Upends Montreal in OT
One of the best games of the entire weekend came north of the border as Ottawa pulled off a big road win against Montreal in overtime. Neither team led by more than two after halftime and the two sides combined for 17 total goals in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The game got started with a bang. Montreal worked the disc in for a hold to open the scoring and earned an early break change after a deep throw turnover from Ottawa. The Outlaws ended up scoring a hold of their own on a layout callahan by David Colic. Unfortunately, that would be the only real highlight of the quarter for Ottawa. It did not always seem like it was going to be a close affair. The Outlaws looked extremely out of sync, surrendering easy breaks and unforced errors en route to an 7-3 deficit at the end of one quarter. That was only after scoring a last-second goal to close the first.
Montreal looked like it was going to run away with this one. Quentin Roger was firing on all cylinders, finishing the game with four assists and a goal on 35 of 36 throwing. On the defensive side, Kevin Groulx was all over the place. He finished the game with three blocks, but was one of many players who looked very locked in on defense. Then everything started to unravel. Leading 8-4 in the second, the Royal lost all ability to run its offense. Montreal conceded a hold and then a pair of breaks. A sloppy hold gave them a 9-7 lead, but Ottawa held and punched in another break to tie the game at halftime.
That run to close the half gave the Outlaws some life as the second half began. After trading holds to start the half, Ottawa came up with its second callahan of the game, this time for a break on a layout block from Matt O’Brien. Having trailed 7-3 at the end of the first, it was a shock to see the Outlaws out front at 11-10. The momentum didn’t stop there. Ottawa picked up another break before Montreal finally managed to right the ship. The points got longer as both offenses settled for contested deep shots and questionable options downfield. The Royal earned back-to-back breaks to retake the lead.
Given the sloppy play and overall lack of scoring, no one expected what would come next. An epic quarter began to unfold. Montreal broke to start it, taking a 14-13 lead. Then the creativeness came, as both sides decided to change up their method of attack. Tempers flared as players jostled for positioning downfield. It was complete with acrobatic grabs from Simon Charette, toe-tapping layouts from Quinten Roger and even an integrity call that negated a break chance. Both sides were uncorking massive hammers and massive hucks. It was quite the entertaining fourth quarter.
Ottawa tied the game at 19-19 with 2:35 to play. It turned out to be the final point scored of the quarter. The tension built with timeouts from the Royal and the Outlaws, but neither side could punch in the crucial goal to take the lead, sending the game to overtime. The pressure of the first point got to both teams, as Alec Arsenault bladed a deep huck into the turf and a dis was dropped by Andre Arsenault. Ottawa drew first blood, but then missed on two opportunities to break on the goal line as Montreal eventually held. Alec boxed out a defender to reel in a floating huck followed by Charette chasing down a deep shot to tie it at 21-21. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the period, Jeremy Hill hauled in a speculative throw in the back corner of the end zone for the go-ahead goal. The Outlaws swarmed to Kevin Quinlan’s last-second huck sealing a hard fought victory.
Can We Get a Trick Shot Throw-Off?
— Brodie Smith (@Brodiesmith21) June 18, 2019
Eliminated West Teams Duke It Out
With the Aviators win, both participants in the west’s other game had little to play for but pride; nevertheless, they put on a show. Seattle took the victory 26-25 in double overtime against the San Jose Spiders. Seattle started off the game strong, scoring a hold and an immediate break to take an early lead. San Jose answered right back with a two goal run of their own, setting the stage for a truly back and forth game.
San Jose used a two-for-one opportunity, bookending the first and second quarters with goals to take a 9-6 lead before Seattle fought back to tie the game at 9-9. Then San Jose went on their own run, before Seattle again tied the game at 13-13 and extending it into a lead. San Jose found enough energy to tie the game at 18-18 to close out the third quarter.
With the momentum, San Jose broke to take a two goal lead in the fourth, but Seattle stormed back and tied the game at 22-22 at the end of regulation. With the game on the line, both teams managed holds on all three of their possessions in overtime, before Seattle patiently worked in a hold in the sudden death double overtime period to take the game.
The extra ultimate helped pad some players stats. The Spiders’ Lior Givol came away with five goals, and Chuck Cao threw five assists of his own. Though both teams were out of the running for playoff contention, it is encouraging to see them still play professionally and put on a rousing show for the fans who came to support them. Both the Cascades and Spiders are filled with talented athletes, and it will be fun to watch them the rest of the season as they try to spoil the records of the Aviators and Growlers.
Latest AUDL Power Rankings
|1||New York Empire||-||1|
|5||Los Angeles Aviators||+1||6|
|6||San Diego Growlers||-2||4|
|11||Minnesota Wind Chill||+3||14|
|13||Tampa Bay Cannons||-2||11|