June 21, 2019
by Matt Rezin
With four weeks of regular season play left, let's take a look at who is in the playoffs! The Midwest and East division have 6 franchises and hold playoffs with 3 teams playing 2 games, while the West and South divisions are holding 2-team playoffs with one game to decide the winner. Remember when you're perusing AUDL standings that this season we have 12 regular season games.
The Midwest playoff picture is as muddy as ever 5 teams still in contention: AlleyCats (5-3) | Thunderbirds (4-3) | Wildfire (4-3) | Wind Chill (5-4) | Radicals (4-4)
The East knows their three teams: Empire (8-0) | Rush (5-3) | Breeze (6-4)
In the West the only remaining competition is seeding: Growlers (7-2) | Aviators (6-3)
In the South two teams are clear favorites for the playoffs but the Cannons still have hope: Flyers (7-1) | Roughnecks (6-2) | Cannons (4-4)
Saturday, June 22
Philadelphia Phoenix at DC Breeze - 4:00 PM/ET
- Himalaya Mehta (PHI) — Last weekend the Phoenix played against DC at home on Sunday afternoon after a Friday evening road trip to New York. Despite the short turnaround the Phoenix played a pretty good game, especially Mehta who scored 3 goals and 2 blocks while playing exclusively on the o-line and avoiding any turnovers. The Phoenix will look to Himalaya to disrupt the Breeze again on Saturday afternoon.
- Jarrod Banks (DC) — In last Sunday's game against the Phoenix, Banks put up an excellent performance scoring 3 assists and 4 goals without turning the disc over. His plus minus of 7 for the game was second only to... guess who (4a, 5g, 100%)! But Rowan can't be the featured player every week and he needs to throw to someone, keep your eye on Banks for a repeat of his stellar week 11 performance.
Chicago Wildfire at Detroit Mechanix - 5:45 PM/ET
- Drew Swanson (CHI) — In another inversion of a week 11 contest, the Wildfire will travel to Detroit this weekend. Last weekend Swanson was ready for Detroit's visit and had a huge defensive performance. In addition to his assist and four goals, Drew spent his team-leading 27 points disrupting the Mechanix offense and wound up with 5 blocks on the game! Watch for this 6'5" AUDL rookie to make things happen again in week 12.
- Austin Riegel (DET) — After starting the season on the defensive line, in recent games Riegel has shifted to the offensive line. If week 11's breakout performance in Chicago is any indication that's right where Austin belongs. Though he was getting playing time before the shift, Riegel's 7 goals (of a team 16) last week stand out in the box score. With the Mechanix offense looking for production, I'd expect Riegel to spend more time with the offensive unit.
Madison Radicals at Pittsburgh Thunderbirds - 6:00 PM/ET
- Colin Camp (MAD) — With the Radicals having lost 3 of their last four games and in fifth place in the division, they're looking for something to awaken their competitive spirit in order to fight their way back into the playoffs. Camp is the Radicals primary downfield target this season and leads the team in goals with 22; that's 9 more than the next player. After a weekend away from the team and the fun of the all-star game fading into memory, Camp will look to provide the spark the Radicals offense needs.
- Max Sheppard (PIT) — With a bye in week 11, this weekend's matchup against the Radicals will be the 2019 AUDL All-Star Game MVP's first game back since his stellar performance on the big stage in Madison. Sheppard won the MVP because of his dynamic play for Team KPS, scoring 5 assists, 3 goals and 2 blocks in his team's double overtime win. Sheppard returns to his Thunderbirds ready to defend home turf and stake Pittsburgh's claim on a playoff position with a win against the defending champs.
Toronto Rush at Montreal Royal - 6:00 PM/ET
- Cameron Harris (TOR) — In a complete shootout against the Breeze in Week 11, Cam Harris stood out on very talented Rush roster. As they fought tooth and nail to stay ahead of the Breeze, Harris led the team with 5 assists and 4 goals. Also playing the most points for his squad, the Rush all-star is leading by example.
- Laurent Faye (MTL) — Faye gets his hands on the disc more than any other member of the Royal. Though his name doesn't top the box score in assists (as it does for completions) he's working within the offense, helping to reset the disc and provide consistency for playmakers to work around him. Evidenced by his 14 hockey assists, the hallmark of Faye's game is putting his teammates in the position to succeed.
New York Empire at Raleigh Flyers - 7:00 PM/ET
- Ben Jagt (NY) — It seems that all-star weekend just kept Ben Jagt warmed up. He returned to regular season action against the Phoenix in week 11 and scored 8 goals and 2 blocks. When the Empire face their most talented opponent of the season this weekend, you can be certain that Jagt is a primary concern for the Flyers coaching staff. It will be interesting to see if any system can slow Jagt down because generally Ben can do what he likes when he's out on the ultimate field.
- Mischa Freystaetter (RAL) — With a couple of this season's heralded rookies away in week 11, Mischa took full advantage of the opportunity to shine for the Flyers offense. Facing a tough Roughnecks squad (albeit for their second game in as many days) Mischa had an incredible performance in the Flyers 27-18 rout of Dallas. Mischa had a plus/minus of 10 for the game based on 3 assists, 6 goals and a block while throwing 20 completions without a turnover. Include his 5 hockey assists and you can attribute roughly half of Raleigh's offensive production in week 11 to Freystaetter.
Minnesota Wind Chill at Indianapolis AlleyCats - 7:00 PM/ET
- Dylan DeClerck (MIN) — While he hasn't been available for the Wind Chill's full season in 2019, DeClerck was active when it came to a crucial game 11 battle against the defending champions. Leading his team in points played, Dylan's defensive effort resulted in 3 blocks and 3 goals. As the Wind Chill travel to Indianapolis this weekend DeClerck is active, watch for him and the Wind Chill defense to suppress another midwest foe.
- Rick Gross (IND) — After a bye week in week 11, the AlleyCats get back to action for the first time since the all-star break and find themselves in first place! The AlleyCats veteran core of players distributes the disc regularly between so many players that it's hard for anyone to stand out; 8 players have well over 100 completions on the season. Yet when the AlleyCats get in the end zone, it's usually Gross who winds up holding the disc.
Tampa Bay Cannons at Dallas Roughnecks - 8:00 PM/ET
- Billy O'Bryan (TB) — When the Roughnecks came to Tampa Bay in week 11, O'Bryan met the challenge with one of his best games of the season. While he's performed different roles for the Cannons offense this season, sometimes throwing ~50 completions and more regularly (like last week) throwing ~20, it seems the reins were off against Dallas as Billy threw 5 assists! Adding to his breakout performance were 2 goals and a block. The Cannons will need more players to step up as O'Bryan did when they meet the Roughnecks again, just one week later and on the road.
- Thomas Slack (DAL) — In Tampa Bay last weekend, Slack had a solid 4 assist, 4 goal performance to tie Abe Coffin at +8 for the team's lead in plus/minus. As the Roughnecks approach the end of the season glue guys like Slack can make the difference between a team that excels in the playoffs and a team that lets those must-win games slip away. Expect to see Slack dicing up the middle of the Cannons defense again on Saturday evening.
San Diego Growlers at Seattle Cascades - 9:00 PM/ET
- Jonathan Helton (SD) — Given the heightened talent and tough matchups of the all-star game, Helton excelled as usual, scoring 4 assists and 5 goals as a key part of the double overtime win by Team KPS. Following that exhibition, Helton returned to the Growlers and went off in week 11, posting a stat-line of 5 assists, 3 goals and 2 blocks in a tough loss to the Aviators. As evidenced by his performance on the all-star stage, you can count on Goose to make big plays (and a plus/minus ~+7) whenever he's on the field.
- Mark Burton (SEA) — When he is available and active for the Seattle Cascades, the offense runs through Mark Burton and he's looking for teammates in the end zone. Though he's only been active in four games this season Burton leads the team in assists and is second in completions. Watch for Mark to show out against the division leaders this weekend and keep things exciting as he drops throws to his cutters knowing he can throw around most defenses.
Los Angeles Aviators at San Jose Spiders - 10:00 PM/ET
- Jake Baumer (LA) — Listed at 6'7", Baumer has 3 blocks in every AUDL game (2) he's played thus far. In the Aviators week 11 defeat of the division leading Growlers, LA's largest defender made his mark, throwing an assist and finding his way to the end zone for three goals. Let's see if he can repeat that performance and become a stalwart element of the Aviators defensive plan going forward.
- Jackson Stearns (SJ) — Through ten games in 2019, Stearns is one of only 3 Spiders eligible for this season's AUDL Steel Spirit award for having played in every game of the season. Currently leading the team in goals (20) and second in assists (25), Stearns is critical to the Spiders' offense. In their week 11 matchup against the Cascades he scored 3 assists and 4 goals.
Sunday, June 23
Tampa Bay Cannons at Austin Sol - 2:00 PM/ET
- Bradley Seuntjens (TB) — While Cannons all-star representative Andrew Roney leads their attack from the handler set (41 assists), cutter Bradley Seuntjens holds down the other end of the field (24 goals). Tampa Bay hasn't played the roster in strict offensive or defensive lines this year so these two also happen to lead the team in blocks! If the Cannons had two all-stars this year, Seuntjens would've received the second invite, keep an eye on him downfield against the Sol this weekend.
- Kyle Henke (ATX) — While everyone played a lot of points in the all star game, standing out among the amassed talent proved difficult for many of the younger stars in attendance. Over 27 points Henke only got his hands on the disc 5 times but scored a goal and a block for Team KPS. Two weeks after the all-star game, most of the Austin Sol haven't seen the field for an AUDL game since June 2nd. They'll need to shake off the rust as they welcome the Cannons to town this weekend and scrap their way out of the bottom spot in the South Division.
Toronto Rush at Ottawa Outlaws - 2:00 PM/ET
- Nathan Hirst (TOR) — While teammate Cam Harris found himself at all-star weekend this year, Nathan Hirst actually leads the Rush in both goals (20) and assists (22) this season. Leading the team in turnovers isn't an ideal or coveted title, but in conjunction with actual scores, usually indicates a handler who is confident in his throws and comfortable taking shots when he sees an opening. It seems that after limited availability and a year away in 2017 that Hirst is fully committed this year and targetting a Steel Spirit award in 2019.
- Jeremy Hill (OTT) — A 5 year veteran of the Outlaws, Jeremy Hill had a career performance in week 11's 22-21 victory over the Montreal Royal. On 29 points played Hill scored 4 assists, 6 goals, and 3 blocks resulting in a plus/minus of 12(!) on the game. Double digit plus/minus games indicate huge contributions from one efficient player; this was a performance that Hill will be trying to duplicate for a while. As the Outlaws welcome the Rush to town on Sunday they've got a similar rivalry challenge to motivate Hill.