AUDL Buzzer Beater: Week 1 is Here

The 2023 season starts today!

Former Atlanta Hustle defender Elijah Jaime during the 2022 regular season. Photo: Gino Mattace — Atlanta Hustle/AUDL.

Hi AUDL fans,

This season we’re covering the AUDL a little differently than in the past. Rather than giving cursory coverage to every game in the AUDL Throwaround as before, this new column, Buzzer Beater, will focus on one major story line each week. The column will also share some news and notes beyond that big story and will be the place to share our most up-to-date power rankings. You can also write in with questions for our new mailbag segment. Without further ado, here’s the first edition of Buzzer Beater.

Old Faces in New Places

Every year, players move to new cities or teams entice players to commute in the hopes of more success. Our season preview covers many of the big moves (Pawel Janas to Los Angeles, Thomas Edmonds to DC, etc.) so this segment will highlight a few team-changers who might be under the radar now but have the potential to make a big impact:

Rami Paust (MIN to DC) – In the grand scheme of DC’s additions, Paust’s name might be buried under a list of more accomplished individuals, but his positional awareness on defense, possession-keeping ability on offense, and penchant for making the right play at the right time will help the Breeze defense convert its break chances. In their one-point playoff loss to New York, DC converted just three of their nine break chances. With Rowan McDonnell moving to the D-line, AJ Merriman’s two-way ability, David Cranston’s calm poise, and Paust’s glue-guy tendencies, they have a dangerous defensive core.

Elijah Jaime (ATL to SLC) – With 158 goals across four seasons, Jaime has made a name for himself as a premier scorer. That’s already 23rd among active players, some of whom have been in the league for over 10 seasons! On one hand, Salt Lake could be reeling from the loss of two of their top receivers in Joe Merrill and Joel Clutton. On the other hand, Jaime might just be dynamic to fill both of their roles and keep the Salt Lake offense shredding opposing teams.

Ben Snell (SEA to CAR) – After a few years stuck in the void that is the Cascades roster, Ben Snell returns to the city where he began his pro ultimate career back in 2015. With the departures of D-line veterans Noah Saul and David Richardson, expect Snell to step up immediately and become a go-to player on a team that is hoping to punch in a lot of breaks this season.

Christian Johnson (SF in 2017 to CHI) – Coincidently, Snell’s college teammate is also an intriguing player to watch. Moving from Raleigh to the Bay Area to Washington DC and now to Chicago, Johnson is still a stellar defender and a plus on offense on the counterattack. Like Snell, Johnson has significant shoes to fill to make up for the departures of Union mainstays Jeff Robinson, Tim Schoch, and Jason Vallee on the D-line.

Mailbag

Have a question about the AUDL? Send it in to [email protected] with AUDL Mailbag in the subject line. You can also message me on Twitter at @StallSeven.

What are your hot takes ahead of this AUDL season?

-Me because the only questions I received on Twitter were about Detroit and, no, they will not win a game.

Here’s one per division:

  • New York will not finish the season undefeated again.
  • The MVP will come out of the West division this season.
  • Austin will finish the regular season in first place in the South.
  • Whichever Central division team makes Championship Weekend will lose their semifinal by at least five goals.

News/Notes

Leave it to the AUDL to create ultimate’s best app. While their video game development may have temporarily stalled, the league just released an app on iOS and Android ahead of the 2023 season. We’ve yet to see it function during the season, but poking around the schedule, roster, and statistics tab has me excited for the possibilities of following a game live when I can’t be in front of my computer on AUDL.tv. If the app is successful, the PUL, WUL, and USA Ultimate should do whatever it takes to create a similar version for their competitions. This could be a game changer.

Check out my story about the focus on youth around the AUDL this season, including the first AUDL National Academy, a sleepaway camp for prospects aged 15-18.

See my Season Preview to read about the major storylines of the season, key players to watch, and notes about every team in the league.

Power Rankings

  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

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