May 13, 2019
By Hannah Kanfer
The New York Empire defeated the DC Breeze 26-25 in double overtime Saturday evening at Joseph F. Fosina Field in New Rochelle, NY. This was yet another crazy nailbiter between these two East Division rivals who have a knack for creating overtime classics, often with controversial endings.
This game of ultimate played out more like a game of chess with the two teams matching point for point and keeping fans edge of their seats all evening. The Empire started aggressively on defense with Marques Brownlee ripping a disc out of the sky and Jeff Babbitt getting a layout block. But by the 2nd quarter the Empire paid for a turnover of their own as AJ Merriman got the break point goal for DC. Despite that break, the first half ended 12-11 in favor of New York.
The Breeze seemed to be reaching the point of no return when they went down 19-21 with seven minutes left in the 4th quarter, but from that point the visitors showed the Empire what they were made of as they would eventually tie the game and push it to overtime.
Both teams worked the clock towards the end of the game, executing methodical offenses. The Empire held a 23-22 with 6 seconds left, but The Breeze prevailed with a miracle catch to throw the game into the first overtime. Here the Breeze worked the clock again, throwing reset after reset and short upfield passes and burning a full minute in one point. Yet leaving 35 seconds for The Empire was still too much time as Matt Stevens got the goal to tie the game once again at 25-25 and bring the game to the second overtime.
The Breeze had received the pull to begin the first overtime, meaning the Empire would get the huge advantage of starting with the disc in the untimed, sudden-death second OT. New York methodically and efficiently worked the disc downfield only to commit an unforced error on a drop at the Breeze goal line, giving the Breeze the coveted turnover they needed for a chance to steal a huge road win against the league’s number one ranked team. Matthew “Rowan” McDonnell quickly called for a timeout, and then what was apparently an incorrect call by the officiating crew proved fatal for the Breeze.
After blowing the whistle to acknowledge McDonnell’s timeout request, the referees gathered briefly to discuss the situation and then declared the Breeze out of timeouts and gave the disc back to the Empire as fans recalled Chris Webber’s timeout call that cost Michigan the 1993 NCAAM basketball title. However, this situation was completely different: Michigan really was out of timeouts back in 1993, whereas according to the official AUDL Rule Book both teams are given one timeout in each overtime (Rule 5.4.4). Despite vigorous protest from the Breeze bench, the call stood and the disc went back to New York at the Breeze goal line.
There wasn’t much the Breeze could do at that point with the Empire standing on the doorstep. New York quickly scored on a short Harper Garvey pass, and it was all over.
Ben Jagt was an important asset for the Empire in the game. Not only is he a quality veteran entering his 6th year in the AUDL, but he stands at 6’6 and skied almost anything that came near him. He really proved his value on the field, scoring a whopping nine goals and finishing with a game-best plus/minus of +15. McDonnell continued to crush the offensive stats on the other side of the disc, scoring seven goals en route to an overall +9. Ben Katz lead The Empire’s defense with 6 blocks, while Xavier Maxstadt tallied five blocks for The Breeze.
DC will hopefully take the momentum from this tightly fought game against the AUDL’s best into their double-header next week, as the Breeze head north of the border to face The Ottawa Outlaws and The Montreal Royal May 18 and 19. Both games will be broadcast live on AUDL.tv.