Buzzer Beater: Upsets Abound [UFA Week 6, 2024]

How did this week's upsets shift the rankings?

Atlanta Hustle’s Brett Hulsmeyer goes over two Colorado Summit defenders during their win during the 2024 UFA regular season. Photo: Sloth Jackson

Wow, what a week! After a light schedule in week five, week six packed in plenty of games and lots of intrigue. Nine teams played doubleheaders1, and fans were treated to some truly shocking results.

Ranking the Road Wins

It is hard enough to win a UFA game on its own, and even harder on the road. Player availability fluctuates when teams travel, and each team has a built-in comfort with their home stadium. A strange bounce of the Frisbee in a wind pocket might be enough to alter a game, and home teams generally know all of the nooks and crannies of their fields better than their opponents’. Three teams scored big road upsets this week, and it is impossible to choose just one on which to focus. All three are going to be important and meaningful, but the magnitudes of their impact might be a bit different.

1. Boston over New York

This result is not so shocking given the trajectory of both teams’ seasons…but it is potentially the most impactful. Boston punched in five of their six break chances and totaled just seven turnovers. Championship material? Ned Dick anchored the backfield. He was both a steady thrower (59/60 for the game) and an always-available reset (-6 receiving yards during this game). Boston led by a “fake break” when they scored last in the first quarter and first in the second quarter to take a 6-4 lead. New York battled back to tie the game at 8-8, but they never led as the Glory continued to score every time they needed to in order to keep the buffer. Past iterations of this Boston team might have found a way to crumble, and past iterations of New York would have found a way to succeed no matter the game conditions. But, paired with Boston’s win over DC (more on that later), the Glory put themselves in pole position in the East Division as we approach the halfway mark of the season.

2. Atlanta over Colorado

Atlanta has what I consider to be the hardest schedule in the league, but they are nevertheless finding ways to succeed. The Hustle never trailed as they went to Colorado and climbed to the summit of interdivisional play with another key win. Though Carolina has the South Division lead with their perfect 4-0 record, including two wins over the Hustle, Atlanta has looked particularly impressive in wins over New York and now Colorado. Brett Hulsmeyer is churning out another incredible season. His three assists and four goals led to a game high +6. One turnover is not so bad when you consider that he also had 42 completions in the thin Rocky Mountain air. Colorado’s poor break chance conversion (they were just two for eight) is below the level one might expect from a championship contender, and the Summit fell to 5th place in the West Division with this loss.

3. Carolina over Austin

A 5-1 run midway through the second quarter flipped a one goal deficit to a two goal lead for Carolina. A separate 5-1 run at the start of the fourth quarter put the game out of reach. In a tight division race, the Flyers now have wins over Austin and Atlanta, the other two contenders, to set themselves up as the frontrunners. I’m not sure that anyone expected the Zander Wilcox/Allan Laviolette/Elijah Long backfield to remain so steady all season for the Carolina O-line, but they haven’t just been rocks for the team, they’ve been downright impressive. On the other side of the field, Austin spread the blame around. Each O-line starter save for Josh Zdrodowski was responsible for at least one turnover. The Sol benefitted from securing a home playoff matchup last season, but they are going to have an uphill climb to repeat that feat this season. Next weekend’s road trip to Atlanta and Carolina will be very telling for a team with high hopes but not as many actual positive results.

News and Notes

  • DC crushed Toronto 26-19. Jonny Malks’s six assists and four goals led the way for the Breeze. Akifumi Muraoka led the game with 821 total yards in the loss. The Breeze never had one big run to break the game open, but trickled in a few breaks a quarter to build an unassailable lead.
  • Toronto went up 10-2 on the Philadelphia Phoenix before the Hotbirds came roaring back on a 16-6 run to win by two. The win is Philadelphia’s first of the season.
  • The Breeze also had a disappointing end to their road trip. Up in Boston, the Glory took down DC for the first time in team history. The fearsome downfield trio of Jeff Babbitt, Tannor Johnson-Go, and Orion Cable combined for five assists, six goals, and a whole lot of easy options for Ben Sadok and Ned Dick, who combined for 130 completions as a patient backfield duo. The offense’s ability to continue to score late in games and to keep their leads is propelling the Glory to a best-ever season.
  • Chicago took down Madison 20-19 in a battle of defenses. The teams combined for 19 breaks (out of 39 total scores). Ben Preiss led the way for Chicago with three assists, two goals, and two blocks.
    Indianapolis took down Chicago the next day tough. It was Chicago’s second game of a doubleheader and Indy’s first. Chicago seemed to have enough legs, breaking with 23 seconds left to tie the game, but Travis Carpenter’s hammer to Cam Brock scored a walk off win for the new father (Carpenter, whose daughter was born last week) and his team. Each team limited themselves to just eight turnovers in a beautiful display of offensive near-perfection. Dax Dremann had the game of his career for Chicago with eight assists, three goals, and zero turnovers.
  • But wait, there’s another twist to the Central Division madness. Pittsburgh shocked Indianapolis with a comprehensive 26-18 win. The Thunderbirds only threw five turnovers in the entire game, second best in league history! Will Hoffenkamp’s eight assists led the way. Carnegie Mellon alum John McMonigal has two assists and six goals as well.
  • Carolina crushed Dallas by a touchdown, 21-14. Anders Juengst scored six goals while Allan Laviolette threw six assists.
  • Similarly, Austin beat Houston by ten, 25-15. The Sol scored the last five goals of the match, putting the game out of reach even after the result was basically decided.
  • Seattle flew down to San Diego and edged out the Growlers 18-17. The Cascades rode a three goal run in the first quarter to an early lead that they would not relinquish. The Growlers pitched a bit of a comeback late, but their score to bring the game within one took over a minute, leaving just six seconds left to tie the game, and well that’s less than one stall count so San Diego had no chance.
  • Tony Goss, Marc Munoz, and Lukas Ambrose had key fourth quarter blocks to give Seattle back-to-back wins in Southern California. The Cascades knocked off the Aviators 20-19 thanks to an early fourth quarter break run. Seattle is now firmly in second place in the West Division.
  • Detroit put up the same amount of points as Chicago did in their game against the Radicals but lost by eight to Madison.

Mailbag

Have a question about the UFA? Send it in to [email protected] with UFA Mailbag in the subject line. You can also message me on Twitter at @StallSeven, or subscribers can DM me in the Ultiworld Discord.

What do the top teams in the East need to do to separate from the rest of the division? NY, Boston, and DC have all been solid, but something’s missing for them to be in a tier on their own, what do you think that is for each team? -CJEpps in the Ultiworld Discord

Well, this question came in before Boston’s impressive sweep in New York and DC, but I was going to say that a team needs to be able to beat the other contenders on the road. I’ll be honest, when push comes to shove in the playoffs, I am still tempted to trust New York. Neither DC nor Boston has been able to find success in August when the playoffs roll around. This might be the year that it finally happens, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

The Breeze should get better as the season goes along. Adding likely D-I Player of the Year Jacques Nissen back into the fold is a boon, and Elliot Bonnet’s increased comfort in the UFA format will produce an even bigger yield from the high-impact rookie. The Breeze cannot be counted out, but they haven’t yet beaten New York in a meaningful game and they just lost to Boston. They need to show the improvement I predict for them to really separate themselves.

Boston definitely made their statement this weekend. The impact of Jeff Babbitt and Ben Katz off the field is hard to overstate. Those two have a player-coach quality to them that helps make their teammates better. They also have an intimate knowledge of their main rival–New York. What’s most impressive is that the UMass alumni group of Jeff Babbitt, Tannor Johnson-Go, and Orion Cable are finally all playing together consistently. Ben Sadok and Ned Dick are blossoming this season as patient disc movers. With those major pieces coming together, suddenly Boston can play with confidence that they will keep a lead late in games. If the Glory can close out the season the way that they closed out the Empire and the Breeze this weekend, they will need to be in the title conversation, let alone separating themselves from the East contenders.

UFA Power Rankings:
Rank Team Change Prior
1 - 1
2 +1 3
3 +1 4
4 +3 7
5 -3 2
6 -1 5
7 -1 6
8 - 8
9 - 9
10 - 10
11 - 11
12 +1 13
13 -1 12
14 - 14
15 - 15
16 +2 18
17 -1 16
18 -1 17
19 - 19
20 - 20
21 - 21
22 - 22
23 - 23
24 - 24

  1. Madison, Indy, Boston, DC, Carolina, Seattle, Toronto, Austin, Chicago 

  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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