April 23, 2018
By Tyler Byrum
Two weeks ago Matthew “Rowan” McDonnell and the rest of the DC Breeze (1-1) talked about consistency and familiarity in their home opening loss against the Montreal Royal (1-1).
The team stepped up in both categories Sunday, in particular on the defensive side of the disc. Rallying with 11 breaks, the Breeze were able to walk away with their first win of the 2018 season, 26-19 over the Ottawa Outlaws (0-2).
McDonnell was Mr. Consistency again (despite two irregular drops) and would not be denied the team’s first victory. He collected six goals, five assists and two blocks to lead the squad. Most of his playing time was on the offensive side of the disc, although he was able to score a crucial break in the middle of the game.
“I think Rowan is going to be in the MVP conversation this year,” said Breeze head coach Darryl Stanley. “He is going to be in that kind of situation to put up points and help carry our team,”
Throwing to McDonnell a majority of the time was newcomer Xavier Maxstadt, who arrives on the roster by way of Raleigh and Pittsburgh. Three of Maxstadt’s five assists in his Breeze debut yesterday made it into the hands of McDonnell for a goal. It appears there is a new winning combination in D.C., and that is Maxstadt to McDonnell.
“Every time he got the disc, I put my head down and ran, he is not shy to throw it and his throws were on [target],” said McDonnell.
Maxstadt, a fourth year AUDL player, started on the O-line for D.C. His first throw for the team was an upline huck that rocketed up the sideline to his new partner McDonnell.
Weather conditions were a lot more favorable for ultimate than the opening night contest with Montreal. Seasonable temperatures with a consistent breeze definitely favored the home team.
“I think the guys really worked hard after the last loss and I think that had them coming out and taking care of business,” said Stanley.
Throughout the first half the wind was blowing strong from the right endzone, heading left. The steady wind halted breaks in the first half. Only five of the 22 scores in the half made it in that endzone.
Heading into halftime, the Breeze got a break train rolling to open up the scoring. Ending the second quarter with back-to-back breaks and starting the third with two more, the Breeze jumped out to a 14-10 advantage.
With a strong assist from the prevailing wind, the pressing D-line for the Breeze really started to get into their zone. Ottawa only scored three times in the third quarter compared to the four breaks DC had from their D-line, each from a different player. DC extended their lead to 23-13 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
As the game wore on, the Breeze defense was able to stifle the Ottawa offense led by Derek Alexander and Alec Arsenault. The Outlaws’ normally dynamic duo was only able to connect once in the second half after starting strong. Arsenualt scored three of his four goals in the first half, while Alexander still managed a strong overall outing in the loss with two goals, six assists and 43-for-45 throwing.
Brad Scott did a majority of the work covering Arsenualt, although there was consistent switching from the D-line. Scott finished with a goal, an assist and a block as he continues to work back after missing the entire 2017 season due to injury.
Ottawa was able to rally late in the fourth quarter to make the score more respectable, but by then the damage was done and the Breeze were well on their way to the victory.
Matt Kerrigan tallied four goals for DC, and as a starting D-line handler, Ryan Swift got three of his own with 100 percent passing (21/21).
Sunday also marked 40th home game in DC Breeze history. They are 26-14 in the nation’s capital, looking to build on another home winning streak.