April 24, 2020
By Evan Lepler
This Saturday, continue reliving the greatest games in AUDL history with another classic tripleheader, featuring three blasts from the past that all went down to the wire. The action starts at 5:00 PM/ET on Saturday night, streaming for free via the league’s Facebook Live. Here are some appetizing nuggets about the Week 4 slate, which includes three overtimes across the three-game slate.
GAME 1 — 5:00 PM/ET — TORONTO RUSH AT DC BREEZE (2016)
It’s hard to believe that these two teams won’t be divisional rivals anymore with the AUDL’s realignment for 2020. Geographically, it makes sense, but anecdotally, the Toronto Rush and the DC Breeze have engaged in so many enjoyable battles, and it feels unfortunate that they will not be regular adversaries going forward. This particular game was the 2016 season opener for Toronto, while DC entered 1-0 coming off an 11-goal rout over Ottawa. For the majority of the night, the Rush looked like the stronger squad, building a five-goal advantage midway through the third quarter, only to see the Breeze roar back ferociously to dramatically force extra ultimate beyond the previously scheduled 48 minutes. In terms of memorable moments, Toronto’s Thomson McKnight made a ridiculous behind-the-back scoring grab to complement his ever-steady 50-for-50 throwing performance. Several Rush stalwarts supplement McKnight’s production, with Cam Harris, Jeff Lindquist, and Adrian Yearwood combining for 15 of the team’s 25 assists. A big part of DC’s comeback involved moving gunslinging hucker Markham Shofner over to the D-line to increase the Breeze’s conversation rate in the second half, leading to some exciting full-field shots during the rally. Alan Kolick, Tom Doi, and David Cranston also played critical roles for the Breeze in creating the exciting conclusion of this early-season East Division showdown, which ultimately boiled down to one last scoober.
GAME 2 — 7:00 PM/ET — DC BREEZE AT RALEIGH FLYERS (2017)
While we lose the Breeze and Rush as a divisional rivalry in 2020, one obvious perk of realignment is the emergence, or more accurately the continuation, of the DC-Raleigh series. This April 2017 battle marked the first AUDL collision between the Breeze and Raleigh Flyers, a highly anticipated duel despite DC missing a handful of key players for the road trip. Undermanned, but undeterred, the Breeze frustrated the Flyers early, jumping out to a four-goal lead in the opening quarter and forcing Raleigh to play catch-up all night long. The deficit swelled to five in the third before the Flyers found their rhythm, with Jonathan Nethercutt, Noah Saul, and David Snoke all touching the disc a ton. Combined, that trio completed 184 passes in the game, 11 of which went for scores. Meanwhile, though the Breeze were missing key playmakers like Shofner, Jeff Wodatch, and Rowan McDonnell, other faces stepped up and played brilliantly. Lloyd Blake played flawless frisbee, completing all 33 of his passes, and Kolick dished seven assists while carrying considerable responsibility on his shoulders. This game also introduced us to a 6’3”, 21-year-old Mary Washington student named Joe Richards, who made a couple super snags in his professional debut that gave a glimpse into his future potential.
GAME 3 — 9:00 PM/ET — SEATTLE CASCADES AT SAN DIEGO GROWLERS (2019)
One team entered 3-0 while the other was 0-3, but this West Division clash from a year ago stayed within two scores the entire time. On seven occasions in the second half, the score was tied, but that’s not to suggest that the two teams just boringly traded offensive holds; quite the contrary in this back-and-forth Friday night affair, which included several significant breaks in key moments. Travis Dunn helped anchor the San Diego Growlers cause, with a game-high +8 that featured five assists, three goals, and two blocks. Steven Milardovich and Will Turner were also huge for the Growlers’ D-Line, combining for four blocks and 22 completions with no turnovers. On the Seattle Cascades side, Henry Phan, Jay Boychuk, and Kodi Smart all touched the disc around 50 times for the Cascades attack that kept the Growlers off-balance for much of the night. By the end of the season, these two franchises would be at the opposite ends of the division, but this entertaining tussle serves as a reminder that the gap between first and worst out West was actually much smaller than we might remember.