Five Must-Watch Player Matchups

April 3, 2023
By Daniel Cohen

With AUDL ultimate being played at its highest level yet, more and more we’re seeing noteworthy matchups between two premier players at their respective positions. While I can’t predict the future, nor script individual matchups myself, I can hope to speak these matchups into a more permanent existence. These are five one-on-one matchups I’d love to see a lot of in 2023; hopefully some of these teams’ coaches read this article and make my dreams a reality. 

Jordan Kerr vs. Cody Spicer

“[Cody Spicer’s] first step and athleticism in the air make him a tough matchup on anyone,” said Jordan Kerr on the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Evan Lepler’s recent article. “But he really excels at knowing his matchup’s strengths and mitigating those throughout the course of a game. That requires a very high on-field IQ.” 

Kerr’s worst game of the season came in Week 7, when Spicer limited him to just three total scores with four turnovers in their second of three meetings last year—Kerr recorded six or more scores in every other game of the season, including eight- and 10-score games in the other two meetings with Colorado. While Spicer clearly disrupted his rhythm in Week 7, Kerr showed a ton of resilience in the other matchups and remains one of the league’s most dangerous scorers even against the best defenders. Last year’s MVP runner-up, Kerr’s been training hard this offseason and even with new pieces on the Shred offense, Salt Lake will again need to lean on him against Colorado to have a shot at the West Division title.

Jack Williams vs. Paul Owens

Jack Williams has to be the matchup I look forward to the most,” said Paul Owens when asked about the toughest handlers he’s had to face. “When he plays handler, he is easily one of the best.”

When asked about the toughest defenders he’s had to face, Williams also spoke highly of Owens. 

“He has made some incredible plays on me in the handler space." Williams told Lepler. "It’s something about the way he plays that makes me feel open but then I realize he’s right there.”

These two have a mutual respect for each other’s games, and seeing them go head-to-head last season in Philly’s second meeting with New York was thrilling. After Williams’ dominant six-score, zero-turnover showing in the first meeting when Owens was inactive, Jack was limited to his lowest scoring output of the season in Week 13. The 2022 All Defense selection is making a name for himself as one of the top young defenders in the league, and it’s his willingness to take (and win) matchups like this that will launch future Defensive Player of the Year campaigns.

Rowan McDonnell vs. Eric Taylor

Look, I don’t know where these guys are going to play, but I’d be equally excited to see Eric Taylor on offense vs. Rowan McDonnell on defense as I would be to see Rowan on offense vs. Taylor on defense. Each guy is the best all-around player on their team, each extremely capable on either side of the disc; rumors have surfaced this offseason of Rowan switching to a primary D-line role in 2023, while Taylor has bounced back and forth between O and D each of the past two seasons.

Regardless of when and how they match up, one thing I know is that when games matter most, especially as they come down to the wire—which they will in the two DC vs. Carolina meetings we get this year—the Breeze and Flyers just want these two guys on the field no matter what. Two true hybrids capable of defending any position and single-handedly leading an offense or counterattack, the world wants this matchup on both sides of the disc more than any other on this list.

Cameron Brock vs. Kevin Pettit-Scantling

It’s anyone’s guess which of these two Central Division legends will have the more impressive game when Indy and Madison go to battle. In their last meeting of 2022, it was Cameron Brock who carried the AlleyCats to clinch their Central Division playoff berth over Madison in Week 12, with seven goals on the night including the game-ending playoff clincher. Kevin Pettit-Scantling did play most of that game on defense, but his 2022 season was much more offense focused as a whole (he played nearly 50 percent of his points on O-line). He’s expected to shift back to the starting D-line full time this season, and if his performance in the 2022 All-Star Game was any indication, the 31-year-old defender still has plenty of playmaking potential left in the tank.

Brock noted, “It’s less about his defense on his man and more about how you just always have to know where he is. There’s a reason he has as many highlight plays as anyone in the league.” Always a threat to swing momentum with a single play, the heart of the Radicals defense will look to get the unit back on track in 2023 and help limit a guy who’s scored over 250 more goals than anyone in league history.

Ryan Osgar vs. David Cranston and/or Jasper Tom

Ryan Osgar mentioned David Cranston as one of his toughest matchups last year, commenting, “The Breeze always have well thought out team-wide defensive schemes that challenge the things we like to do most, and part of that is David’s giant mark. He has great field sense and is always able to challenge throws I am usually very comfortable with.” 

DC found the recipe for success in containing Osgar as a thrower in last year’s East Division Championship Game, as they rotated both Cranston and Jasper Tom onto Osgar to keep him out of his comfort zone. Tom’s quickness made it tough on Osgar to find room cutting underneath or in the backfield, while Cranston’s size and field instincts allowed him to take away many of the vertical throws that Osgar typically looks for. The duo limited the 2022 AUDL MVP to just one assist on the night, his lowest assist total ever in an Empire jersey, and the Breeze of course came closer than any team last year to defeating the eventual champs. Containing an MVP is no easy task—Osgar still found the end zone five times as a receiver—but forcing the New York offense to operate differently than normal is something the Breeze will continue to emphasize in 2023.

Follow Daniel Cohen on Twitter