AUDL Throwaround: Dallas and Indy Advance to Championship Weekend

Four teams remain after two more playoff games.

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.

Championship Weekend is set, and things haven’t quite played out as expected.

The Scores

Dallas 21-17 Raleigh
Pittsburgh 17-23 Indianapolis

Roughnecks Stun Raleigh With Dominant Playoff Win

The Raleigh Flyers were the definitive favorites coming into Saturday night’s 2019 South Division Championship. They had blown out Dallas in each of their last two meetings, and they carried home field advantage as well. However, the Roughnecks played with the confidence of a unit that expected to win, as they have done in the South Division since their formation in 2016. Bolstered by a new-look offense and a full complement of hungry, athletic defenders, they quickly jumped out to a big lead and never looked back, claiming a wire-to-wire victory and punching their ticket to San Jose with the 21-17 victory.

The tone of the game was set immediately, as Dallas broke Raleigh twice on the first two points, including on an easy run-through block by Dillon Larberg. The Flyers played nervous, careful offense, and were slightly off on their execution on a number of throws in the first 15 or so minutes of the game. Notably, Jon Nethercutt was present but inactive for the game. Credit goes to Dallas for playing tight person defense and forcing precise under throws and resets that normally wouldn’t phase handlers like Bobby Ley and Eric Taylor, but seemed to on this night. Raleigh officially entered the danger zone on a pivotal play late in the first quarter, when Mischa Freystaetter was stalled out ten yards from a score and Dallas converted on a beautiful inside backhand huck from Kai Marshall to a bidding Griffin Miller to take a 5-1 lead.

Unfortunately, the early deficit only seemed to add pressure to the Raleigh offense. Midway through the second quarter, Larberg picked up another block on an easy under, then hammered to his brother Chris to give Dallas a six goal lead at 11-5. On the other side of the disc, Dallas’s offense was methodical and incredibly efficient, making the gap on the scoreboard seem all the more insurmountable. With Brandon Malecek inactive, Abe Coffin took on more of a central role, and had an MVP-caliber game moving the disc alongside Dalton Smith, Henry Furuta, and Thomas Slack. Still, Raleigh was able to catch a break going into half, as an apparent Smith score was called back in the final minute, and Raleigh executed the two goal swing on an incredible catch by Terence Mitchell to close to 11-7.

The Flyers clearly had a plan in place coming out of half, and by the midway point of the third quarter, had closed the lead to 12-10 on a hammer that was mistakenly thrown in the vicinity of Mitchell. They leaned more heavily on the speed and size of Henry Fisher on offense, a matchup which had flummoxed Dallas (and, to be fair, most of the league) all season. Nevertheless, Dallas’s offense continued to motor, although they caught a couple of breaks on tipped passes. After a Coffin huck to Connor Olson got the Roughnecks a break back in the final 20 seconds, they managed another when Taylor overthrew a swing pass and Larberg’s buzzer beater was deflected into the waiting arms of Matt Armour. Suddenly, the score was back to 17-12 with only twelve minutes remaining.

The Abe Coffin show continued in the fourth quarter, as the Roughnecks maintained a six goal lead late into the game and entered clock-draining mode in the final minutes, seemingly taunting Raleigh by moving the disc around the field with relative ease. Dalton Smith held the disc in the backfield as the clock expired on the Flyers’ season. The 21-17 victory for Dallas sends them on to their fourth straight Championship Weekend. Coffin finished with a remarkable nine assists on 49-49 completions in the game, as well as a staggering plus/minus of +11. Dallas as a team completed a dizzying 289 out of 298 throws. Olson and Slack were quietly brilliant as well, often finding yards of separation for easy completions and scores. Mitchell and Fisher were the bright spots for Raleigh, whose frustrating campaign to overcome Dallas will continue for at least another season.

-Sean Brady

Alleycats Reach New Heights With Strong Second Half Against Pittsburgh

In the Midwest Divisional Championship, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds made the trip to Indianapolis to take on the awaiting Indianapolis Alleycats. In a windy outdoor game in Indianapolis, the Alleycats and Thunderbirds seemed set for an ugly game. But Indy overcame the conditions, the opposition, and stage to win 23-17.

Pittsburgh came out striking early. After a sloppy opening point, they finally held to score, then immediately broke the Alleycats to take a 2-0 lead. They rode the energy through the first six minutes of the game, holding onto a 4-2 lead before the Alleycats offense finally got the ball rolling.

For the Alleycats, a mixture of the transition to outdoors, combined with two weeks off from playing their top lines, contributed to sloppy play early. As the team knocked off rust, they quickly looked like they were rounding back into top form. The Alleycats notched a hold, to lower the lead to 4-3, and immediately followed it up with a pull that landed in the back of the end zone, putting Pittsburgh in a position they couldn’t recover from. Jacob Fella, defending an in cut for the Alleycats, came up with a deflected pass that tipped into the air, notching a callahan, and tying the game at 4-4. With this play, energy swung in favor of the Alleycats, and they never looked back. The Alleycats followed it up, gaining two more breaks before the end of the first quarter, and holding onto a 7-5 lead they would never look back from.

Receiving the disc to start the second quarter, the Alleycats expanded their lead to 8-5, and their offense was clearly clicking. Possession after possession, the Alleycats were able to grind through their offensive sets and score. With a three goal lead in hand, the Alleycats defense had done its job early, and it was on the offense to hold on.

Pittsburgh, who had ten of their players participating at Select Flight Invite with their club team, Temper, seemed out of energy throughout the second half of the game as the Alleycats pulled away. Outside of a brief moment in the third quarter, in which the deficit was cut to just one, the Thunderbirds never made much of a run at a comeback.

For Indianapolis, they worked to slow down Max Sheppard and his downfield attack. Despite allowing Sheppard to throw for eight assists, his impact in the downfield space was significantly lessened. The length and athleticism of players like Spencer Loscar and Jacob Fella went a long way in slowing down Sheppard, who has destroyed teams in deep space for much of the year. Offensively, Travis Carpenter continued as a workhorse for the Alleycats, notching 45 completions, and fueling the movement of the Indianapolis offense.

The story of the game has to be the ability of the Alleycats defense to slow down Sheppard and generate blocks. The Alleycats were able to notch 13 blocks throughout the game, while Pittsburgh earned just seven of their own. Extra possessions gave the Alleycats the win as the lead blossomed to six, and the Alleycats advanced to Championship Weekend with a 23-17 victory.

The core of the Alleycats, including Cameron Brock, Travis Carpenter, Keenan Plew, Nick Hutton and Kyle Cox, reached a goal that they have been grinding for years to achieve. It was a heartwarming moment to see a team so deeply dedicated celebrating. A wave of emotion swept over the players who have been around the team for so long, accomplishing something the team has been building and growing to achieve.

-Zakk Mabrey

  1. Ultiworld

    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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