The season debut recaps Week 1.
May 5, 2022 by Alex Rubin and Theo Wan in Recap with 0 comments
Our coverage of the 2022 AUDL season is presented by VII Apparel Co., who provides premium performance apparel for the active world, featuring their proprietary GreenLine fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
The AUDL season launched with a busy weekend, highlighted by key divisional showdowns. Carolina and New York impressed in beating their division’s supposed top contenders, while the wild wild West is just as much of a guessing game as ever.
Welcome to the AUDL Throwaround, where we discuss the top stories, players, and highlights in the league.
Results & Standings
Week 1 Scoreboard
Week 1 Standings
Week 1 Stories
Carolina Picks Up Where it Left Off
A storybook season in 2021 started off with a defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Hustle. As the Carolina Flyers celebrated last season’s championship, they also got revenge by taking down the Hustle in a cagey, defensive affair. Carolina quickly attacked the vaunted Hustle zone, tossing hammers and blades as soon as they saw an open space to hit. The repeated efforts to move the disc to the weak points in the Hustle defense stretched the zone and allowed the Carolina offense to move smoothly.
On defense, Carolina’s handler defenders were smothering, barely letting Austin Taylor scoot free (and apparently forcing a handful of travels), holding him to 266 throwing yards and forcing three throwaways. While Atlanta’s offense put up respectable numbers, it had to work for every inch it managed to advance the disc up the field. If there were any leftover doubts as to who the best team in the South is, consider this the Flyers’ division to lose until further notice.
Salt Lake Shreds All Doubts
Few West Coast teams manage to win a game in San Diego. Fewer also manage to sweep both games of a road trip. And yet Salt Lake Shred has done that in the team’s first ever games, earning wins over the San Diego Growlers and the Los Angeles Aviators to kick off their season. While the Growlers were dusting off the cobwebs of the 2021 season, Jordan Kerr, Joe Merrill, Joel Clutton, and company were running all over the field displaying their trademark athleticism and joy for the game. Chad Yorgason had an impressive chase down block on a huck to Sean McDougall to exemplify the Shred’s overall team speed and tenacity.
San Diego had hoped that the Shred’s newness to the AUDL and the Growlers’ understandings of the league’s peculiarities would show up in their favor, but Salt Lake never wilted. After failing to escape a sideline trap double team on the game’s first point, Salt Lake attacked a sluggish San Diego defense relentlessly and kept their focus and drive throughout the game.
San Diego looks like a team that got a much needed wake up call. After rolling through the West in 2021, defending their divisional crown this year is going to take a stronger effort. Luckily, all-star addition Sean McDougall fit in seamlessly to the Growlers’ offense, putting up 440 total yards and a team-leading +10. Look for San Diego to dial up some cutter-to-cutter connections between him and perennial MVP candidate Travis Dunn to jumpstart their offense.
After the buzzer sounded on their opening night win, the whole Shred team and many traveling fans stormed the field, their joy and excitement obvious to anyone around. If you’re a neutral fan looking for a team to root for, you could do much worse than Salt Lake.
New York Top of the East, DC Not Far Behind
The New York Empire continued the momentum of their 2021 season, taking down the DC Breeze and establishing themselves once again as the team to beat in the East. New York was very efficient on offense, converting on 17 of 21 offensive points for an 80% clip, not giving up a turnover until late in the second quarter. The usual suspects on offense, including Elliott Chartock, Ben Jagt, Ryan Osgar, and Jack Williams, were dangerous all night, showing they may be nearly unstoppable against other East competition. The debut of Antoine Davis for the Empire was highly anticipated, and he fit seamlessly into the defensive line. He earned a block then threw his first assist for New York to give them the first break of the game. With Jeff Babbitt and Davis on the defense, other teams would be best suited not to test the air when playing against the Empire. As a team, New York was able to create two turnovers after putting on a suffocating double team trap on the sideline after an out of bounds pull, and showed they are a force on both sides of the disc.
Despite the three goal defeat, the Breeze are not far off in the claim for the division’s best. DC welcomed back Alan Kolick, who made his first AUDL appearance in five years, but was notably missing Jonny Malks. Even though they fell behind in the third quarter, the Breeze did not go quietly into the night, fighting back in the fourth, bringing it down to one on multiple occasions. Christian Boxley snatched a callahan to get a hold for the Breeze, which was one of many such plays over week one. Multiple turnovers on offense in the fourth did DC in on this night, but expect to see this team correct those mistakes and remain a playoff favorite in the East by season’s end.
Everyone in the East Wants a Piece
Speaking of the East division, if week one is any indication, there is less separating the teams than in year’s past. First off, the Montreal Royal went into Toronto and took care of business. Despite missing some main contributors for them including Sacha Poitte-Sokolsky, Quentin Bonnaud, and Vincent Lemieux, the Royal displayed their depth inserting new pieces into their offensive line and being just as lethal. Montreal carved up the Toronto defense with over the top and bladey throws, while also converting on 10/12 break opportunities. The Toronto Rush are rebuilding in 2022, but a seven point victory is still impressive for the Royal, who are making a case for being the third best team in the East division. Their first test against American competition since 2019 will take place on Saturday as the Royal host the Boston Glory in a midday Saturday matchup. A win there would solidify Montreal’s positioning up the East ladder.
Across the border in Boston, the Glory were in tough against the Philadelphia Phoenix, edging out Philadelphia 25-24. Both teams relied on their big names to get the job done on Saturday night. Sean Mott sliced up the Boston defense with precise throws and the Glory seemingly did not have an answer for Brice Dunn downfield. For Boston, when they needed a bailout they would look for Orion Cable deep, whose imposing presence took over the air in the second half. Multiple times Philadelphia had a body on Cable, but it proved to be too little resistance as he would snag four goals. This game was one of the most exciting of the weekend, with neither team able to get a two-point lead until late in the second quarter when the Phoenix were able to generate a break. The first two quarters ended with Philadelphia buzzer beaters on deep shots, while Boston got a break of their own with little time remaining in the third. A Boston break early in the fourth proved to be the difference as teams traded points for the rest of the contest.
For Philadelphia, a team that finished 3-9 in the Atlantic division last season, they have to feel good about their chances in the East division after going point for point with the Glory in Boston. Both teams have made a claim for being the third best team in the East, but there are two Canadian teams that might have something to say about that.
Ottawa was idle in week one and will be looking to make a statement on Friday as they take on the Boston Glory for their home opener, while Philadelphia doesn’t get a break in the stacked East division, as they travel to New York to take on the Empire. Perhaps after week two, the pecking order in the East will start to take shape.
AUDL Power Rankings:
|New York Empire
|Minnesota Wind Chill
|Salt Lake Shred
|San Diego Growlers
|Los Angeles Aviators
|Tampa Bay Cannons
Highlight of the Week
You’ve probably already seen the Hustle’s Matt Smith at SportsCenter #1, but was that even the best play from his own team? Some might favor this sky by Khalif El-Salaam, with the added narrative boost of being a high profile signing in his first game.
Although “mind-melting” might be overstating his 222-yard performance. ↩