Another Power Rankings shakeup before the league's three Canadian teams join the fray this weekend.
July 21, 2021 by Chris McGlynn, Alex Rubin and Keith Raynor in Coverage, Rankings, Recap with 0 comments
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Seattle kicked off the week with a seemingly massive upset over Dallas, whose playoff hopes are on life support. Atlanta one-upped the Cascades, holding the DC Breeze to just 13 goals on the second day of a back-to-back that also saw them defeat Philadelphia. Minnesota, Chicago, and Madison held serve in the Central, and Raleigh continues to crush weaker competition. Next week, the AUDL will welcome its Canadian teams into the fold adding more excitement to an already hectic 2021 season.
Let’s run through all the Week 7 action.
Current League Standings
Atlanta Rules the Atlantic Again
Following their first loss of the season last week at the hands of DC, the Atlanta Hustle entered a pivotal weekend. Atlanta emerged from its road trip with two wins and retakes the lead atop the Atlantic Division.
The Hustle opened the weekend in Philadelphia facing a Phoenix team that took a two-point halftime lead against them in their previous meeting. It was a very different storyline in Week 7 as the Hustle cruised to a 20-15 win.
Atlanta blasted Philly right out of the gate. An early break gave the Hustle a 3-1 lead. Atlanta then scored four straight to close the quarter and held to start the second to stretch the lead to 8-2. While Austin Taylor and Antoine Davis predictably put together great performances, it was Karl Ekwurtzel who stole the show. He finished with five goals, two assists, and a block. When Atlanta needed a player to get open in the red zone, Ekwurtzel got himself free of his defender.
Despite Ekwurtzel’s heroics, the Hustle’s red-zone problems showed their face again. Atlanta went 10-for-16 on red-zone possessions. It didn’t really have an impact on the outcome of this game, but it is a worrying sign.
Both sides traded into halftime with Atlanta leading 11-5. Sean Mott was awesome for Philadelphia, as was Greg Martin, but they didn’t get much help. Mott had three goals and five assists. Martin punched in five goals and added an assist. Mike Arcata helped with four assists and a goal, but he had a pair of turns.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defense was essentially nonexistent. Give credit to Atlanta’s offense for executing well, but the Phoenix finished 1-for-9 on break chances.
The second half was rather uneventful. Each side earned a break in the third quarter and then traded the entire fourth quarter. It is exactly what Atlanta would’ve hoped for so they could conserve legs and prepare for a rematch with DC the next day.
A bus ride down I-95 brought Atlanta face to face with the only team to beat them so far this season. The Hustle earned their revenge against the DC Breeze with a gritty 17-13 win at Carlini Field.
After two holds to start the game, the Hustle broke out the zone. The Breeze offense has shown it can chip away at any defense and work its way into the end zone without attacking downfield. However, Atlanta Coach Miranda Roth Knowles is famous for making tiny adjustments to the team’s zone to bait offenses into mistakes. It turned out the key in this game was Brett Hulsmeyer. Fresh off a three-block performance against Philadelphia, the Alabama-Huntsville product added four more in DC. He earned a crucial interception on a marathon third point of the game to set up an early break for Atlanta.
Not to be outdone, DC held and then punched in a marathon point of its own. Darryl Stanley matched his coaching counterpart, using a timeout after the turn to get his offense on the field. It wasn’t a clean point, as Kelvin Williams earned a layout block, but the Breeze got it back and worked their way through the zone for a break. An Atlanta hold, featuring a ridiculous Ekwurtzel grab, closed the quarter tied.
Atlanta broke the game open in the second quarter. The Hustle scored six of the first seven points of the quarter to take a 9-4 lead. DC tried to get aggressive throwing over the zone, but many of those throws found the turf. The Hustle were content to let the Breeze swing the disc sideways or backwards. This strategy resulted in a massive gap in throws between the two sides with Atlanta attempting just 181 to DC’s 436.
Forcing the Breeze to attempt so many throws predictably resulted in a large number of turnovers. DC finished 7-of-26 on offensive hold opportunities as Atlanta toggled back and forth between zone and matchup defense. Jonny Malks and company simply could not get into a rhythm.
DC earned back a break to cut the lead to four at halftime. Unfortunately, things only got worse for the Breeze’s offense. They patiently chipped away at Atlanta’s defense for nearly four straight minutes to score the first point of the second half. It turned out to be the only point DC scored all quarter. The Hustle held and then earned a quick break to set up another marathon point. After more than five minutes of gameplay, they earned another break to take a commanding 13-7 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
A quick hold from the Hustle put the Breeze in a seven-point hole. However, much like Atlanta did the week before, DC went on a second-half run. A quick offensive score followed by four straight breaks pulled the Breeze back within two points. Back-to-back drops by Eli Jaime opened the door. With the Hustle seemingly crumbling, the Breeze had all the momentum. The home crowd was electric.
That would be the closest DC came to completing their comeback. Matt Smith found Hulsmeyer to right the ship. A quick break from Atlanta to make it 16-12 with under two minutes remaining effectively put the game to bed. Both sides traded to a 17-13 finish.
For a Breeze team praised all season long for its offensive efficiency, this was a rude awakening. DC is still second in the division at this stage heading into a weekend off. Meanwhile, Atlanta restores its lead atop the Atlantic heading into a titanic clash with New York in Week 8.
Dallas Splits Another Doubleheader
As Evan Lepler was explaining to a national TV broadcast that this was Dallas’s strongest gameday roster so far this season, the Roughnecks offense got stalled out and Garrett Martin led the Seattle D-line to convert the first break of the game. Then Dallas’ Matt Jackson dropped an unmarked swing pass and Seattle converted yet another break to earn some early momentum. As the teams figured each other out and fell into a pattern of holds, Dallas scored the last point of the quarter to close the lead to 6-5.
Dallas double-teamed Manny Eckert into a turnover a few minutes into the second quarter to earn a break back and tie the game at 7-7. A few points later, a Marc Munoz crossfield backhand tipped off the hands of Brad Houser and the Roughnecks defense marched down the field for another break. Dallas took their first lead of the game, 10-9 with 1:02 left. Seattle held to bring the game to half at a 10-10 tie.
Seattle came out firing in the second half. Shane Worthington got a first throw poach block and tossed an assist to Dominic Jacobs to break for the lead. One possession later, the Dallas defensive line showed great patience marching the disc up the field after a Seattle huck turnover, but the Cascades scored a quick hold and got a break back thanks to heads-up handler defense from Martin. With under a minute left in the quarter, Seattle broke again as Martin got the block and hucked to a sliding Jack Brown on the goal line. Benefitting from a short pull, the Roughnecks scored with just 13 seconds left to bring the game within one, 15-14.
The Cascades held to start the fourth quarter and forced Dallas to grind out a two-minute offensive possession to match. A few holds later couldn’t bring Dallas any closer. Every time the Roughnecks seemed to pull some momentum, Seattle had an answer. The game was broken open when a Gabe Hernandez break throw to the end zone fell just wide of its intended target and the Cascades offense ran an 80-yard fast break to take a 19-16 lead with just 2:37 remaining. With Dallas desperate to score quickly, Seattle was able to guard the deep space and closed out the game with one more break to win comfortably 22-18.
Eckert led the way for Seattle, missing Mark Burton and Ben Snell, with six assists and 489 yards of total offense. Jake Steen owned the Roughnecks defense in the air, out jumping the overmatched Dallas defenders to the tune of four goals and a team-high 234 yards receiving. Martin corralled three blocks and was 17 for 18 throwing with a goal and an assist quarterbacking the D-line.
Jay Froude returned to the Roughnecks this week after missing last week’s proceedings in Austin. He finished with 406 yards, three assists, two goals, and two blocks as a centerpiece in the offense. Dallas converted just 15 of their 24 offensive possessions into goals as Seattle used a combination of intelligent switching, bracketing, and pressure in the reset space to stymie the Roughnecks attack.
Dallas then visited the San Jose Spiders with a clear mission to resuscitate its playoff hopes. On the first possession, the Dallas defense made San Jose grind up the field before forcing a red-zone turnover. Chase Cunningham unloaded a massive huck to Ben Lewis, who threw in a goal for an early lead and an important statement on the second day of a back-to-back. When the teams settled in, the holds kept coming. The Spiders made creative use of zone defenses, hoping to take advantage of Dallas’s occasional tendency to opt for a big play. Dallas made some personnel changes — Gabe Hernandez and Matt Jackson shifted to the offense and Jay Froude played a lot of defense — and managed to remain patient. Dallas completed 375 passes to San Jose’s 151.
Dallas made good use of the clock. San Jose scored with just 17 seconds remaining in the first, but the Roughnecks moved the disc quickly to evade the sideline double team and Matt Armour found his way past the deepest defender with just a few ticks remaining. Receiving to start the second, Dallas stretched an early lead to 8-5 and later 13-8.
On offense, the Spiders were aggressive in stretching the field deep, leading to some quick holds and some huck turnovers. San Jose nabbed two quick goals at the end of the half to tighten the game. San Jose scored with 1:23 left in the first half; the ensuing roller pull trapped Dallas on the sideline. The Roughnecks moved the disc backwards 45 yards and were just starting to move upfield as time was running out. With nine seconds left, Kyle Henke put up a massive hammer, but Armour couldn’t quite corral it in the back of the end zone. The Spiders called time out after the turnover with just two seconds remaining — enough for a Hail Mary. Justin Norden picked up the disc in his own end zone and uncorked a half-field hammer, which was initially deflected then caught on a bobble. San Jose called its second time out to give Norden the disc again. Norden got off a quick swing pass to evade the double team and Keenan Laurence came down with the sky in a pile to bring the game within three at halftime, 13-10.
The teams traded holds for most of the second half. Dallas had an 18-14 lead after a relatively straightforward third quarter.
Early in the fourth, San Jose earned a break back on a contested catch from Kevin Tien, guarded by former Stanford teammate Hernandez. A Dallas throwaway gave the Spiders another chance to break, and this time Jake Thorne got the block and reeled in the huck going the other way to bring the game within two at 21-19 with 5:32 left. With plenty of time for a comeback, the Roughnecks put their D-line in for the next offensive point and they worked it down the entire length of the field before an unfortunate drop in the end zone. San Jose overshot their huck and Dallas capitalized quickly to retake their three-goal lead. A pair of garbage-time goals brought the final score to 23-20.
In a game of hucks, two deep cutters stood out. Armour and San Jose’s Sawyer Thompson each tallied five goals. In a downfield role, Abe Coffin had four assists for Dallas, matched by Hunter Taylor, who is typically more known for his defense. The Roughnecks defense pressured the Spiders’ players all evening, snagging nine blocks to the Spiders’ two.
With each team going 1-1 on the weekend, Dallas kept pace with Austin in the playoff race and will prepare to face San Diego in a highly anticipated rematch of their one-goal thriller in Week 4. San Jose drops to 2-3, but just one game back of a playoff space in the loss column. The Spiders host the last place Aviators in Week 8.
Spiders’ Account Suspended?
You might have noticed that the San Jose Spiders Twitter account is suspended. The team tried to switch the owner of the account before their game against Dallas, but the account was suspended by Twitter. The team suspects Twitter thinks it is being hacked and is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. This seems like a strange glitch rather than something the Spiders did wrong.
Speaking of Suspended…
Details are slowly emerging about a Week 5 on-field incident between the Dallas Roughnecks and the Seattle Cascades that saw five players ejected from the game, and the league’s reaction to it. While the AUDL has not made any public announcement, three players received suspensions following the incident, including Dallas’ Dan Emmons and Seattle’s Aidan Lopez-Escarez, neither of whom were dressed for the teams’ Week 7 rematch.
Austin Looks Awesome
The Austin Sol took its first-ever trip to Southern California, splitting a pair of one-goal contests with the Los Angeles Aviators (a 21-20 win) and the San Diego Growlers (a 21-20 loss).
It was the Aviators who jumped out to a hot start in the Saturday night opener. The Aviators’ zone defense forced multiple early turnovers and Los Angeles punched in two breaks to lead 6-4. They kept the break train rolling, putting pressure on the Austin offense to the tune of a 3-0 run that spanned the bulk of the second quarter. Austin did not score until there was 4:39 left in the first half.
Austin wasn’t about to fold, though. Taking advantage of a series of Aviators miscues, the Sol went on a 4-0 run of their own to bring the score within one. Los Angeles finally held to close out the half with a 10-8 lead.
The Aviators punched in an additional break to stretch their lead to 15-12 in the third quarter, but after a few overthrown hucks from Calvin Brown, Austin rallied and scored four of the final five points to enter the fourth tied at 16-16.
In the fourth, Austin broke to start. A brutal end zone drop — an unfortunate habit for the Aviators — led to a quick Sol rush down the length of the field, earning the Sol their first lead of the game since the very first point, and kicking off another 4-1 run to expand the lead to 20-17. A quick hold stopped the bleeding, but the damage had been done to the Aviators’ hopes. Using a double-team zone, Mitchell Steiner laid out to get a block and tossed the assist for a late break to bring the game within one at 20-19 with just under a minute left. But Austin navigated the zone on the ensuing point to score an insurance goal and retake their two-goal lead. Another quick goal — the Aviators may be more successful at completing hucks than completing resets — gave Los Angeles one final chance to tie the game, but the Sol ran out the last 24 seconds of the game to win 21-20.
Brown was involved in half of LA’s goals, catching six and throwing four and leading the game with 606 total yards. Sean McDougall notched two assists, three goals, and a whopping four blocks while playing mostly with the offensive line. Austin put together another team effort; Shane Heath and Eric Brodbeck each contributed a team-high four assists and Jeremy Keusch led the way with four goals.
Los Angeles will be bitter about throwing away this potential win, but has a chance to redirect their season with a doubleheader in Seattle and San Jose in Week 8.
Austin continued south to face the division-leading San Diego Growlers in what might be a playoff preview. The windy game started off pretty clean, with each team scoring two holds without a turnover. On the fifth point, a floaty reset pass gave Austin the first chance to break and Elliott Moore tossed his only assist of the day for an early Sol lead. Not to be outdone, after a hold, the Growlers got their break back thanks to Steven Milardovich and Dom Leggio’s backfield prowess, and the game was once again on serve. San Diego finished the first quarter on top 6-5.
San Diego took control in the second quarter, scoring a pair of breaks punctuated by a Reggie Sung layout to catch a Khalif El-Salaam huck to take a three-goal lead. Austin managed to catch the buzzer-beating Hail Mary attempt to tighten the score to 13-11 at halftime.
The Sol weren’t going away easily. An aggressive double team forced a stall out of Jesse Cohen and going upwind, Reese Bowman skied a pair of Growlers defenders to bring the Sol within one. The patient Sol D-line converted the downwind break to tie the game at 13. The teams traded upwind holds and downwind breaks, with Austin’s coming at the end of a nearly six-minute point that tied the game at 15-15 with just 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Cohen snuck behind a confused Sol defense to give San Diego the 16-15 advantage heading into the final frame.
The Growlers broke upwind to start the fourth after a floaty swing pass from Austin was intercepted cleanly. The teams traded multi-possession upwind holds until Paul Lally threw a disc behind Goose Helton cutting off the front of the stack and the Sol punched in the downwind break after a series of possession-saving layouts. With the game tied at 18-18 and just over four minutes left, Austin set a double team and forced a swing pass to float long enough for Connor DeLuna to catch the block. A few throws later, Austin had its first lead of the game, 19-18 with 3:13 remaining. The Growlers managed to hold upwind after turning and getting the disc back with a short field. Needing to score upwind to keep pace, the Sol dinked and dunked the disc in the handler set before Milardovich snuck in for a layout block. Two throws later, the Growlers had their lead back with under a minute to play.
Austin was not troubled much on the ensuing downwind possession, as DeLuna connected with Evan Swiatek for the last of his six goals to tie the game at 20 with just 11 seconds left. Undeterred, the Growlers needed just eight seconds to move the disc up the field and take the lead. With Austin sitting back in a prevent defense aimed at stopping a last-ditch huck attempt, Growlers cutters ate up big chunks of unmarked yardage without letting the stall count get above one. A nine-yard dish from Tim Okita to Wes Groth proved the difference as San Diego came out with the 21-20 win. Coincidently, this is the third consecutive game Austin has played that finished with a 21-20 scoreline.
Lally continues to grow into his role as a main thrower on the Growlers, finishing with 296 yards throwing and three assists. Helton was dominant downfield, tossing five assists and catching three goals as part of 400 yards of total offense. El-Salaam had three blocks to lead the defensive charge and was vital to the offense after a turn to punch in their breaks.
Spreading the disc around, Austin’s 20 goals came from 13 different throwers, though Swiatek led the way with six goals and 469 yards of total offense. Though he played almost only offensive points, Jake Sames led the team with three blocks, earning possessions back for an offense that needed everything it had on the second day of a back-to-back.
Though likely disappointed to not get both wins, Austin matched Dallas’s record on the weekend to remain in second place in the West Division playoff picture. San Diego travels to Texas next week playing in Dallas on Friday night and Austin on Saturday night in what will be a key weekend for the three teams in the playoff hunt out west.
Alleycats Claw Madison, But Central Stays Stable
After Week 6 set fire to the pecking order of the Central Division, this past weekend’s haves vs. have-nots matchups all went to the favorites, leaving the standings in the same order. But only about four minutes or so separated us from another surprise result, as the Madison Radicals staved off Indy with a comeback to take it 17-16.
The Alleycats’ trip to Breese-Stevens looked like it would result in a laugher in the first quarter. Their offense looked helpless against the reputable Radicals defense, getting stalled once and almost again in the five points. A torrential 5-0 run put Madison way in front. They extended that lead to 7-1 on a grinding multi-turn point with blocks from the Radicals’ Jacob Wham and Chris Garlock, as well as a flying knockdown by Indianapolis’ Xavier Payne. Madison’s discipline faded to end the quarter, however, blowing a defensive coverage to allow a quick Indy hold and conceding a break with just :03 on the clock to close the gap to four, 7-3.
Jake Fella showed up in a big way in the middle portion of the game, coming up with clutch plays for the Alleycats. After the teams played fairly even in the second quarter, trading scores, the big Fella got one of his five total blocks on the period’s penultimate point, though he also threw it away on a miscommunication that prevented Indy from breaking. But that was just the preview for the next defensive possession, where the Purdue product jumped on an attempted scoring pass for an interception that set up a break to bring Indy within one, trailing 11-10, with just two seconds left before the half. Midway through the third, he added a foot block that sparked the break to give Indy their first lead, 13-12.
All told, Madison was outscored 12-6 in the middle frames. Fortunately for the hometown crowd, the Radicals were slightly more dominant in the first and fourth quarters.
The Radicals scored the opening break of the fourth, the crucial “Pizza Point” for the fans.1 Their defense held the Alleycats to just a single fourth-quarter goal, and even that one came with a red-zone turnover, courtesy of the Radicals’ Kevin Pettit-Scantling. He and Logan Pruess were instrumental after the turn, especially with the O-line scuffling, in particular the usually steady Victor Luo. Pruess notched a block with Madison trailing 16-15, and he and KPS piloted in a break to draw even. Alleycats star Travis Carpenter had a mixed bag of a performance (400 total yards, 1G/3A/5T) and he tossed a huck out of the back. Madison took most of the field before another KPS-Pruess one-two punch red zone possession earned them the lead.
Indy’s last chance was short-lived, with a rushed error giving Madison the disc to run the clock out.
The rest of the division’s matchups were far less dramatic.
The Minnesota Wind Chill jumped out to a sizable lead against the visiting Detroit Mechanix, scoring on eight of the first nine points and finishing the first up 8-2. In gusting conditions, the Wind Chill lived up to the name, able to rack up 19 blocks while conceding just seven break chances. Detroit, perhaps hindered by their indoor home environment, was befuddled by the wind, piling up 30 turnovers and scoring on just 27% of their offensive possessions. This one was never in doubt with the Wind Chill winning 24-12.
Indianapolis finished their doubleheader on Sunday by traveling to Chicago to take on the Union. Much like their visit to Madison, the Alleycats started slow, going down 4-0. But unlike in their previous outing, Indy never recovered, with their defense able to provide little resistance aside from slowing the game down with an occasional zone look. They generated just two break chances (one of which they converted) with zero blocks, while Chicago’s Ross Barker put up an Honor Roll performance with 371 receiving yards to go with five goals and three assists. The Union blew the game open to start the second half with an even larger run than their game-opening one, scoring five straight to take an 18-8 lead that let them put their game on cruise control. Chicago rang up a final score of 24-18.
Even with both Chicago and Madison in the win column this week, Minnesota remains atop the division with just a single loss on the season. The Wind Chill and Union face off in Minnesota in Week 8 in a huge divisional showdown.
Raleigh Rolls Again
The Raleigh Flyers’ 0-2 start to the season feels like a lifetime ago. The Flyers won their fifth straight game and fourth straight by double digits with a 27-16 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds.
The game was delayed by roughly two hours due to inclement weather. Pittsburgh started strong enough, trading through the first six points. Things quickly fell apart from there. Raleigh threw a timely double team to generate a short-field break attempt and never looked back. A truly head-scratching error with four seconds left in the first quarter by the Thunderbirds dug the hole even deeper. Jon Mast dropped a swing pass right off the pull and Allan Laviolette made a heads-up play to pick up the disc and loft it into the end zone before time expired. Noah Saul got under it to score the buzzer-beater and give the Flyers a 7-4 lead.
Raleigh stayed in cruise control. Anders Juengst put on a clinic with four goals and three assists as the Flyers steadily built on their lead. While Juengst and Laviolette stood out, it was truly a full team effort. Eleven Raleigh players finished with a +3 rating or better.
This game was never in doubt. Pittsburgh broke once in the third quarter, but still trailed 16-9. It was the only break the Thunderbirds managed all game.
Max Sheppard put together a solid showing with three goals, two assists, and a block. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh has not been able to support his heroics. The Thunderbirds limped to their fifth loss of the season. They get a week off before taking on the Flyers again, this time down in North Carolina.
Boston vs. New York Rivalry Game Delayed
Details on a makeup date have yet to be announced.
Canada Cup Kicking Off This Week
While the rest of the league enters Week 8, the three AUDL teams residing north of the border will be kicking off their own 2021 seasons as part of the Canada Cup. Check out Canadian correspondent Theo Wan’s preview of the competition or hear from Kevin Quinlan of the Montreal Royal, Nick Boucher of the Ottawa Outlaws, and Geoff Powell of the Toronto Rush about each team’s outlook on this week’s Huckin’ Eh podcast.
AUDL Power Rankings:
|1||New York Empire||+1||2|
|4||San Diego Growlers||-1||3|
|7||Minnesota Wind Chill||+2||9|
|12||San Jose Spiders||-1||11|
|15||Los Angeles Aviators||-||15|
|18||Tampa Bay Cannons||-||18|
Survivor Pool Update
All 14 remaining entries advanced this week. A few people had to sweat it out with Austin winning by just one on Friday against the Aviators and then losing by one against San Diego on Saturday. Things are getting tight with five weeks remaining and the list of available teams to pick shrinking!
Stall Seven/Deep Look Picks Contest
With the Boston-NY game postponed for weather, only two games count in the standings this week. Each podcast went 1-1 this week as Minnesota covered a massive point spread over Detroit for Stall Seven, but the Sol could not do the same in their win over LA giving Deep Look their lone point for the week.
- Stall Seven: 1/2 on the week, 8/19 for the season
- Deep Look: 1/2 on the week, 11/19 for the season
This week’s lines:
- San Diego (PK) at Dallas
- Chicago (-1.5) at Minnesota
- New York (PK) at Atlanta
- Toronto (-5.5) at Ottawa
If the hometown Radicals break on the first defensive point of the fourth quarter, it means pizza deals for the crowd. ↩