August 2, 2019
By Grant Lindsley
Final Four, Part 2 – Indy and Dallas Make the Final Four Bracket
If a single play were to encapsulate the Midwest Division championship game between the Indianapolis AlleyCats and Pittsburgh Thunderbirds, it would be this one. Indy’s pull lands deep in the Pitt endzone with 3:40 left in the first quarter. A smothering defense forces a couple reset passes, Pitt making no downfield progress. On the first under pass, a pressured flick into a tight window, the cutter tips it, and the disc flutters above the endzone into the hand of an Indy defender. Callahan.
Pitt had started hot with an early lead led by All-Star Max Sheppard breaking away for the first break of the game. But Indy’s Callahan brought the game even at 4-4, and Pittsburgh never saw another lead. Indy’s Travis Carpenter was everywhere, receiving goals and throwing them to Keegan North, a consistent deep threat. By the fourth quarter, Indy’s lead had grown to seven, and the contest for the Midwest Division ended without dramatic flair.
Surprisingly, the same was true of the South Division championship game between Raleigh Flyers and Dallas Roughnecks. While Dallas had handed Raleigh one of their two losses of the regular season, Raleigh entered the favorite with home field advantage. Some of Raleigh’s top players were fresh off of competing in the Under-24 World Championships in Germany, so fatigue may have played a role in the Flyers' slow start.
Dallas rattled off four breaks in the first quarter alone. At Dallas’ most commanding lead, 11-5, Raleigh seemed poised to turn things around, mounting a 5-1 run to bring the game close at 12-10. Terrence Mitchell played outstanding in Raleigh’s effort. His endzone grabs were spectacular and a block on a cross-field hammer helped keep the game within reach.
But Raleigh couldn’t find their rhythm, and the play that appeared to seal their fate was this one to end the third quarter: Raleigh receives the disc with around 15 seconds remaining. Instead of launching a buzzer-beater huck into the far endzone, Raleigh overthrows a slicing cut across the field. Dallas picks up the disc around midfield, throws one centering pass, and sends their own buzzer beater looping into the back of the Raleigh endzone, where Eric Taylor gets a block, but the falling disc lands in the hands of a second Dallas cutter. It felt like the nail in the Raleigh’s coffin. They would now enter the fourth quarter down once again by five goals, a stretch for any team to overcome in a single quarter.
So, the bracket for the Final Four is set: Indianapolis AlleyCats vs. New York Empire in one semi-final, Dallas Roughnecks vs. San Diego Growlers in the other. Both games, as well as the AUDL Championship Game on Sunday, will be available for streaming live on Stadium on August 10 at 7:00 PM/ET and 10:00 PM/ET, respectively.
The Empire will spend the next week practicing as usual, studying film, nursing minor injuries back to health, and getting excited to compete at full strength in San Jose.