June 8th, 2021
by Cody Roy
On December 4th, 2019, the AUDL announced the league’s expansion to 22 teams, with the addition of a single franchise: Boston Glory. Just a hair under 18 months later, after their planned debut was sidelined by the COVID-19 Pandemic, Glory finally took to the field Saturday in Pittsburgh. This debut was, simply put:
Head coach Sam Rosenthal and GM Mat Little assembled a roster stocked with big, strong bodies, complimented by a crafty core, and let them run riot in Pittsburgh.
Both teams, Boston especially, got off to slow starts, with Glory making some poor decisions in passing early that saw them broken and trailing 2-1. After trading points for much of the first, Tannor Johnson, a 6’4” UMass product and 2-time Callahan finalist, broke the ice with an acrobatic catch in the red zone followed by an upline to Nick Patel for an eventual hockey assist while still on the ground. This would be far from Johnson’s only contribution of the evening.
Johnson breaking the ice is putting it mildly, as this is where the true story of the game began: Boston’s first half defense. What followed from Glory’s D-Lines was five consecutive breaks to round out the first quarter and start the second. After the Thunderbirds get one back, Boston puts up another four straight, entering halftime with a 14-8 lead. Tannor didn’t break the ice, he helped to take a wrecking ball to it.
The second half was more of a shootout, with both offenses marching down field, only combining for 6 breaks all half.
For the Thunderbirds, All-Star Handler Max Sheppard had a strong game (2 goals, 4 assists, +3) but was kept relatively quiet by Glory’s defensive corps. Rosenthal told Thunderbirds media before the game that their plan was “defense by committee” on Pittsburgh’s #1, and he threw a double-team at Shepp regularly, with Ivan Tran and Ryan Woodhouse drawing the main duty of defending. The duo may go down as two of the standouts in this game: with their tight marks forcing a co-team-leading three throwaways out of Sheppard (equal with Owen Watt).
Another standout for the Glory was Ben Sadok. He led all players with 12 goal involvements (3 goals, 5 assists and 4 HAs), leading the Glory to a statement 29-21 victory.
While Sadok makes the best case for player of the game, an honorable mention goes out to Eugene L'Heureux, who had a pair of huck assists with his off-hand that will be on every Glory highlight reel for years to come. The D-Line Handler threw for 209 yards on just 6 completions.
The Thunderbirds travel to Tampa next Saturday to face the 0-2 Tampa Bay Cannons, fresh off back-to-back opening weekend losses.
Up next for Boston is their home opener: a clash with the Atlanta Hustle under the lights of Medford, MA’s Hormel Stadium, at 8pm on Friday the 11th.