August 12, 2021
By Adam Ruffner
3. Toronto Rush
In Toronto’s seven seasons of existence prior to 2021, the Rush finished with two or more losses just three times. So yes, this year’s 0-2 start in the Canada Cup is surprising. Toronto is usually known for their deep, pressure-heavy defense, which has so far not come online yet this season; the Rush are just 6-of-19 on their break opportunities in their first two games, and have the third worst defensive efficiency rating in the AUDL at large.
2. Montreal Royal
The Royal continued the odd trend of the team with a two-game slate sweeping their weekend series in the Canada Cup; Ottawa also went 2-0 two weeks prior. With 2019 AUDL goals leader Quentin Bonnaud sidelined with an injury, Sacha Poitte-Sokolsky has stepped up to fill the void admirably, tallying 12 goals over the Royal’s 2-0 weekend. The real gem for Montreal, however, was 21-year-old Jakob Brissette, who finished with 13 assists and over 1100 throwing yards in two games, completing an absurd 109-of-114 throws in the process and showing off a full arsenal of throws.
1. Ottawa Outlaws
After a scorching hot offensive start to the season, the Outlaws struggled to get into a rhythm last weekend without star handler Nick Boucher in the lineup. Ottawa was still 8-of-8 on hucks in their loss to Montreal, so their deep game remains potent despite missing a key thrower. But the Outlaws converted just 40 percent of their offensive holds against the Royal, after converting over 80 percent over the course of their first two games. Geoff Bevan had a great 2021 debut for the Outlaws, racking up eight total scores and 540 total yards.
2021 AUDL SEASON
19. Detroit Mechanix
For the second straight week, the Mechanix carried a lead into halftime, only to squander it in the opening minutes of the third quarter by allowing their opponent to go on a run. Detroit’s offense could never be described as efficient, but it is punchy when it finds its rhythm, especially with league receiving leader Andrew Sjogren patrolling deep space. And with 53 total scores compared to just 11 turnovers on the season, Sjogren is boasting an impressive 4.8 score-to-turnover ratio, while averaging 340 receiving yards per game.
18. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds
The nine-goal margin in the final score isn’t quite indicative of the Thunderbirds play in their 25-16 loss to DC last Sunday, but it does represent this Pittsburgh team’s inability to slow down things going from bad to worse. Obviously the volume of turnovers is a problem—the Thunderbirds had 28 on Sunday—but it’s also the way in which they’re happening. Pittsburgh had the disc with under 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter, trailing just 12-9, and not only committed a careless throwaway, but surrendered a fastbreak DC score as the buzzer sounded, pushing the Breeze lead to four. The Thunderbirds have the playmaking talent to hang with good teams, but the focus is not there this season.
17. Indianapolis AlleyCats
Levi Jacobs will end 2021 with his third straight season of at least 25 assists and 25 goals, making him one of the most consistent offensive contributors in the Central Division. Jacobs is fourth in the league in overall receiving yards (2,744), but most importantly, he’s become more efficient at a higher volume as a thrower. He already has completed a career-best 197 throws this year, and his 92.9 completion percentage is a full two points better than any other season in Jacobs’ seven year AUDL career.
16. Tampa Bay Cannons
The huck happy Cannons bombed their way past the Atlanta zone, completing 10-of-11 hucks on their way to an impressive 21-20 road win versus the Hustle. Bobby Ley continues to yeet the disc at high velocity from any spot on the field, with Eric Sjostrom emerging as an able accomplice and complementary thrower in the Tampa Bay offense. First year receiver Tannon Hedges had his fifth straight game with three or more scores, and has shown a knack for getting open in spaces that Ley likes to throw into.
15. Seattle Cascades
Seattle has followed their impressive home win against Dallas in Week 7 with four straight losses, and knocked themselves out of playoff contention for the fourth straight season with their 23-15 loss to San Jose in Week 10. The Cascades have nice pieces in their offense, highlighted by the handler play of Manny Eckert. But the unit as a whole has failed to put together consistent games, and has scored 20 or more goals just twice in their last seven games (1-6 record).
14. San Jose Spiders
Keenan Laurence had his best game as a receiver in his short pro career, using his athleticism to stretch the Cascades defense downfield again and again. Laurence finished with five goals and 306 receiving yards in the Spiders’ road win, and San Jose continually fed off his high energy plays to take the momentum in the second half. Jordan Kerr continues to put together one of the better offensive rookie campaigns in recent memory. In nine games this season, Kerr has 245 completions at a 95 percent rate, and is averaging over four scores and 400 yards of offense per game.
13. Philadelphia Phoenix
Similar to their Commonwealth rivals from Pittsburgh, the Phoenix continue to hamstring themselves with turnovers, committing 26 in their loss to DC last Friday night. Greg Martin remains a weekly highlight reel, and has nine games with three or more goals in 10 appearances in 2021; Martin is second in the league with 41 goals. But aside from Martin, no Phoenix player has more than 17 goals this season, and the Phoenix offense as a whole is averaging just over 13 goals per game in their last three outings.
12. Los Angeles Aviators
After mounting a midseason three-game winning streak to push into the very outskirts of the playoff picture in the West Division, the Aviators’ 24-17 loss in San Diego in Week 10 officially barred LA from playoff contention in 2021. It is the first time the franchise will miss the postseason since their inaugural year in 2015, snapping a four-year playoff appearance streak. The Aviators have a top 10 defense, but are fourth worst in goals per game (18.2) because of their extremely high turnover rate; Los Angeles has the third worst team completion rating (92.2 percent) in the AUDL.
11. Madison Radicals
For the first time in franchise history, the Radicals defense will likely finish outside the top five in goals allowed per game. The Madison offense is surprisingly fifth overall in points per game (22), and their increased pace of play has forced the normally stout Radicals defense into a slightly more uptempo game style. The Radicals are still averaging 10-plus blocks per game as a team for the eighth consecutive season, and they lead the league in defensive efficiency.
10. Boston Glory
Boston played one of the more complete performances of the season at home against Raleigh, but they still fell 19-18 to the Flyers in another fourth quarter collapse. Glory were near perfect in the red zone, going 17-of-18 on the night thanks to the weaving play of Ben Sadok, and the return of Tannor Johnson to the lineup. But with Boston completing just 1-of-4 hucks on the day, their offense lacked a vertical dimension, which allowed Raleigh’s defense to slowly tighten over the course of the game.
9. Austin Sol
Austin exited the 2021 like they entered it: In a flurry of exciting plays in front of a riled up home crowd. The difference from Week 2 to Week 10 being that the Sol could not close out on their almost-realized dream season, falling to the rival Roughnecks 23-22 and becoming officially eliminated from the playoffs in the process. Mick Walter had one of the best defensive performances in AUDL history, finishing with an AUDL single-game season high seven blocks, and continually finding ways to disrupt Dallas throws all over the field. His blitzing swat-to-assist break score in the final minute of the game encapsulated the never-say-die attitude of this entire Sol franchise.
8. Minnesota Wind Chill
The Wind Chill defense has lived up to the preseason hype, currently fourth in both goals allowed (17.9 per game) and blocks (12 per game). Minnesota has allowed 20 goals exactly once in their last seven games, with 11 different Wind Chill players already with five or more blocks on the season. The real difference maker, however, has been Minnesota’s ability to convert their break chances. The Wind Chill narrowly missed the postseason in 2019 with a league-average defensive efficiency rating. In 2021, Minnesota is sixth. Brett Matzuka can’t take all the credit for the transformation, but his presence has obviously shifted the D-line mentality.
7. Dallas Roughnecks
It was far from a clean performance, but Saturday’s win over the Sol in Austin was the Roughnecks’ best game of 2021. Dallas got off to a hot start thanks to the return of Kai Marshall and Zach Marbach to the lineup, both of whom made big defensive plays in the first half. Dalton Smith continues to work back from injury, but was close to his normal form in leading the D-line counterattack on Saturday, finishing with three assists and 192 throwing yards in just 16 points. Gabe Hernandez made the play of the night with his 70-yard full steam layout goal in the fourth quarter, but it was Hunter Taylor and his punishing hammer throws to punch in break scores that cemented Dallas’ win, and fifth straight postseason appearance.
6. San Diego Growlers
Jonathan Nethercutt showed no rust in his Growlers debut in Week 10, firing fastballs around the field and finishing with four assists on 33-of-34 throws. In the absence of some players, rookie Nate Pettyjohn emerged as a top target downfield, and scored a personal best seven goals in his seventh pro game; Pettyjohn now has 20 on the season. The Growlers clinched their second straight regular season division title in the West, and will likely host their playoff game with Dallas for the chance to go to Championship Weekend. Dallas has never missed the final four, while San Diego is 10-2 at home dating back to the beginning of the 2019 season.
5. Raleigh Flyers
The Flyers played some of their best ultimate of the season in their Boston-New York road back-to-back in Week 10. The return of Eric Taylor to the lineup made an already excellent Raleigh offense even more potent, with Allan Laviolette and Anders Juengst continuing their streak of stellar play as attacking mids. But that all feels like a consolation after yet another double overtime loss to the Empire, snapping the Flyers’ seven-game winning streak. Raleigh can get back on track against the rival Hustle this weekend.
4. Chicago Union
The Union teetered at the very edge of the event horizon that is losing to Detroit and snapping their four-year losing streak. But a strong second half from Chicago’s defense allowed just seven Mechanix goals in the third and fourth quarters, while Kurt Gibson got the Union offense back on track to close out the win. Chicago sits at nine wins with one game remaining at Detroit; this will likely be the second season the Union franchise reaches 10 wins in a season, and the first since their inaugural campaign in 2013.
3. Atlanta Hustle
The Hustle had the inside edge on a home field playoff game entering Week 10 as the only one-loss team in the Atlantic. But Tampa Bay’s upset win in Atlanta, coupled with the Hustle’s road matchup in Raleigh this Saturday in the “Game Of The Week”, has put this Atlanta team in a precarious position despite their quality wins. Elijah Jaime lived in the endzone against the Cannons, finishing with season highs in goals (8) and receiving yards (387). Jaime is now sixth in the AUDL with 35 goals in 2021, and has scored two or more goals in nine of his 10 games.
2. DC Breeze
The story of this DC team in the first half of the season was the efficient play of their offense. But in the last few games, the Breeze defense is playing like the best in the league. They allow the fewest goals per game in the AUDL (16.2) while ranking second in takeaways (12.1 blocks per game). DC hasn’t allowed an opponent to score 20 goals since Boston did it on June 18 in the third week of the season. AJ Merriman continues to lead the team in blocks (18), but the trio of Bergeron brothers can all make big plays, and Ben Green might be the most underrated matchup defender in the league right now.
1. New York Empire
What focus down the stretch from this Empire team that was trailing by two goals with just 36 seconds left in the first overtime, and somehow managed to grit and claw their way to a win in sudden death. Ben Jagt is on a tear in his last four outings, totaling 17 assists and 24 goals while averaging an absurd 538 yards of total offense per game. But it was once again the playmaking of Jack Williams in the clutch that sealed New York’s win and solidified him as an MVP candidate in 2021; Williams caught the game-tying goal in the first overtime before throwing the game winner in sudden death.
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