The Tuesday Toss: The Postseason Has Arrived
July 25, 2017 — By Evan Lepler
In 33 days, only one of the final dozen teams that qualified for the 2017 AUDL playoffs will remain.
Between now and then, 11 eliminations will unfold and lead to a single survivor. The 2017 AUDL playoff field (and schedule) is set, and it’s full of intrigue and mystery.
Make no mistake, not every postseason participant is a true championship contender. Like every year, lesser teams will gradually fall to better ones. But there will almost certainly be a couple surprises along the way. While half of the AUDL’s 24 franchises have already turned the page to 2018, the top three from each division are still in the hunt to hoist the trophy.
The action intensifies in the coming weeks, though Week 17 was not devoid of consequence. Home fans left happy after walk-off wins in Los Angeles and Madison, while favorites fought off feisty underdogs in the East.
Meanwhile, the plucky Cascades finally met their fate, bouncing a 2016 finalist from the 2017 dance before it even begun.
The Full Field Layout
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, only the West Division still had playoff berths up for grabs. With a faint glimmer of hope, the Seattle Cascades took the field at home against first-place San Francisco. Needing a win and some help, the Cascades planned to give the FlameThrowers their best shot. But very quickly it became clear that San Francisco just had more firepower.
“Plain and simple, San Francisco was a better team,” said Seattle Captain Mark Burton after his team fell 30-24 to officially extinguish its playoff hopes. “They played with fire, high energy on marks, were physical, and just simply made more plays than us.”
Seattle battled to its bitter end, but never led for a single second in the season finale. After trailing 8-5 at the end of the first, the deficit had swelled to 17-11 by halftime. The Cascades crept within four goals in the fourth quarter, but San Francisco’s superior depth helped the FlameThrowers put the game on ice.
Marcelo Sanchez, who played more points than anyone in the league during the regular season, led San Francisco on Saturday with six goals, while Lucas Dallmann collected six assists despite playing mostly on the D-line. Greg Cohen, who missed the previous week’s game against Seattle, returned to the field and registered three Ds, as the FlameThrowers officially clinched the top spot in the West, thanks to San Jose’s slim setback the previous night.
“There was light talk as we traveled about how the Spiders had lost and the implications of that,” said San Francisco Coach Ryo Kawaoka. “Once the game started, though, you could tell that everyone was inspired to make plays for each other.”
One day later, the FlameThrowers overcame an early 3-1 deficit to close their season with a 26-18 triumph in Vancouver, improving their record to 10-4 for the year. It marked the third time in four years that San Francisco finished with double-digit victories, yet the FlameThrowers enter will enter the playoffs in pursuit of their elusive first postseason win.
“We are fortunate to have achieved the #1 seed,” Kawaoka remarked. “We were working out kinks all year and trying to figure out the pieces that fit right for AUDL, and I think we are now in a good position.”
The FlameThrowers will host either San Jose or Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13, for the right to compete in Montreal at Championship Weekend. The Spiders and Aviators, meanwhile, will reconnect on August 12 after battling to the wire in Week 17.
San Jose enters the postseason in a peculiar spot. After sitting in first place for much of the season, the Spiders slipped up down the stretch, dropping their final three contests, albeit all by close margins.
On Friday night in San Diego, the Spiders took the field knowing that winning just once on their SoCal trip would remove any doubt of their postseason status. But the Growlers were determined to not simply be a stepping-stone, and they had proven their potential to play the spoiler role in their win over LA the previous weekend.
When the Spiders seized an early lead, one wondered whether the Growlers might give in. The reality, of course, was that San Diego was simply in a familiar position.
“We played from behind in pretty much every game this year,” said Growlers Coach Kevin Stuart. “I think there were only one or two games where we were leading or tied at halftime. It seems like we find our groove come halftime and we start to roll.”
On this particular day, the Growlers would not truly hit their stride until the fourth. Trailing 18-14, Trevor Purdy registered a big layout block near the goal-line to prevent the Spiders’ lead from swelling to five. This triggered a massive turnaround, and when Dom Leggio connected with Jeff Silverman for the Growlers’ fourth break of the fourth quarter, San Diego had its first lead at 21-20.
“The biggest story of the game was the fact that we kept grinding,” said San Diego’s Travis Dunn, who collected four goals and five assists to lead the Growlers in both categories. “That mentality kind of summed up our season too. We started the season in a hole at 0-4 and then fought back to end at 7-7.”
The Growlers defense secured five breaks in the final 12 minutes, rampaging on an 8-3 run to build a 23-21 lead. With just over a minute remaining, the Spiders held to make it 23-22, but the Growlers completed 17 straight passes on the ensuing possession to drain the rest of the clock and wrap up the win.
While San Diego celebrated its seventh win in 10 games to close out the season, the Growlers early shortcomings, including one-goal losses to both San Francisco and Vancouver, cost them a playoff berth. The Spiders, on the other hand, still had plenty to play for.
Unlike Friday’s hot start, though, San Jose’s Saturday night in Los Angeles began pretty miserably. Less than six minutes into the game, the Spiders were down 5-0. When San Jose finally got on the board, the Aviators responded with a layout Callahan from Zac Schakner to make it 6-1.
Highlights from June 22 between San Jose and Los Angeles.
But after being down 14-10 at the half, the Spiders completely rewrote their story in the third quarter, launching a 5-0 run of their own to take the lead. San Jose took a 16-15 edge into the fourth, when the action finally stabilized.
From there, the drama included ties at every number from 18 to 23, spanning the fourth quarter and overtime. Ted Barnett’s goal with 34 seconds left in the bonus period gave the Aviators a 23-22 edge, but Chuck Cao connected with Steven Chang just 25 seconds later for the equalizer. It seemed like double overtime was beckoning, but Los Angeles had one final chance.
“Before the pull, I was thinking ahead to the D-line for sudden death,” admitted Aviators Coach Franklin Rho.
But then LA converted two passes to give Nate Ransom a decent look from the middle of the field. Just before time expired, Ransom uncorked a half-field hammer toward a pack of players in the end zone. Near the front of the pack, Zack Theodore was jockeying for position.
“When it went up, I realized I had no chance to make a direct play,” Theodore said. “I was disappointed, but hopeful that a teammate was in a better position. I looked to pick up the trash. I saw the Spiders’ defender go up and was partially resigned to go to double OT. Then, he hit it straight to me and I was surprised, then excited, then a little scared; excited to finish the game and secure second place, but scared of dropping it.”
San Jose’s Jackson Stearns had smacked the disc right into Theodore’s grasp, and the Aviator held on for the clutch and somewhat fluky grab to gave Los Angeles a heart-stopping 24-23 overtime victory.
“I love how our squad has faced adversity all season,” said Rho. “We lost our 2016 MVP six games into the season [when Mark Elbogen tore his ACL]. We’ve dealt with some other key injuries and absences. And somehow, we’ve persevered.”
Regardless of the result, the Aviators and Spiders both realized that, depending on Saturday’s result, one of them would be entering the playoffs on a multi-game losing streak. LA’s buzzer-beating goal certainly provided an emotional lift, but thanks to Seattle’s loss against San Francisco, the Spiders quickly realized that their season still very much had life.
“I’d say we’re still in a good spot despite the losses,” San Jose Coach Tyler Grant remarked after the pair of one-goal defeats. “We were up against San Diego at the end of the third and then had some uncharacteristic mistakes that wore down our offense. It carried over a bit to the LA game, but I was very happy to see us respond and bounce back. Our energy was high and we were in good spirits. I think the guys now understand what type of focus it takes to make things happen in the playoffs.”
Prior to the season, few expected the Spiders and Aviators to be in the playoffs. Now, even fewer will predict one of them—whoever survives the first-round battle—to knock off San Francisco in the West final.
But in a season of surprises, we have been repeatedly reminded that anything is possible. The plastic has a propensity to fly in strange ways, especially in the West, and it would not be shocking to see either of the underdogs catch fire and make it to Montreal.
In the Midwest, Minnesota used a dominant defensive effort to seal up the second spot and a first-round home game against Pittsburgh. Though the Thunderbirds dealt with the drops early in the game, the Wind Chill D-line made it tough on Pitt’s cutting core all night long.
Highlights from June 22 between Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
“Our O-line wasn’t ready for the pressure the additions of [Brian] Schoenrock, [Jay] Drescher, and [Jacob] Lien would add,” said Thunderbirds Coach David Hogan. “An inability to get smooth O-points made it really hard for our D-line to establish any rhythm and get their legs under them.”
While Pittsburgh only trailed 8-6 at the half, it felt like Minnesota could have been up by more. In the second half, the lead grew, as the Wind Chill prevailed 19-13, holding the Thunderbirds to their worst scoring day of the season. Pittsburgh had scored at least 21 goals in each of its first 13 games before managing just a baker’s dozen against Minnesota.
“Our D played great,” remarked Schoenrock, proudly. “We might have scored more than our O-line. Not positive, but it definitely felt like it.”
Schoenrock and Ryan Osgar each registered four Ds for the Wind Chill, while Drescher contributed three more as the team earned its 11th win of the season, setting a new franchise record. Unquestionably, the 2017 success was built on a foundation of defense. Several times on Saturday, the Thunderbirds would work it most of the way down the field only to falter near the goal line.
“Our end-zone offense has been an issue for the last half of the season, and it’s been especially bad against Minnesota,” said Hogan. “That’s something to watch.”
Pat Earles led the Thunderbirds with four goals and two assists, but six throwaways balanced out the good. Piloting the offense was not easy considering that Pittsburgh was missing O-line stalwarts like Tyler DeGirolamo, Max Thorne, and Max Sheppard, all of whom expect to be available in the playoffs.
“We knew we didn’t play well and left a large amount of opportunities on the table,” said Earles. “I’m excited for another opportunity, with the chips stacked even higher.”
Indeed, while the location of the playoff game was on the line this past Saturday, a trip to Madison will be at stake when the Wind Chill and Thunderbirds clash again in the rubber match of their season series on Friday, August 4.
Neither the Rush nor the Royal were playing until Sunday, but both Canadian squads jumped aboard the Philly bandwagon on Saturday. If the Phoenix could knock off the Breeze for the second time this season, then Toronto would have officially clinched first place and Montreal would have had a chance at the #2 seed.
Highlights from June 22 between DC and Philadelphia.
But after a late afternoon monsoon in Philadelphia, DC took the field and played with purpose. Apparently, the poutine-incentive that Toronto and Montreal had pledged to Philly could only do so much. The Phoenix battled and remained within striking distance the entire way, yet the Breeze led wire-to-wire in their 23-20 triumph to finish their season 10-4.
“DC played a zone to stop our pull plays and slow us down,” said Philadelphia’s Sean Mott, who registered a team-best +5 in the Phoenix’s narrow loss. “While they did that well, a big part was [Alan] Kolick, probably the best player in the division, in my opinion, just had a turnover-free game while touching it  times and making big plays.”
Kolick went 40-for-40 with three assists to lead the Breeze offense, but the entire DC squad really valued the disc. Lloyd Blake, Zach Norrbom, Rowan McDonnell, Matt Kerrigan, Tyler Monroe, and David Bloodgood joined Kolick as the team’s top seven passers on Saturday, and combined they went 169-for-171 with 15 assists. Joe Freund added three assists while scoring four goals, completing 14 of his 15 throws too.
“Our O played good and our D played good; neither were spectacular,” said McDonnell, matter-of-factly. “We are excited for the playoffs. We are healthy across the board and some players are settling into their new roles. There was a lot of uncertainty hanging around; who would get what seed, when/where the game would be, etc. But now that we know what we have to do, it’s time to do it.”
DC’s agenda now features a first-round home game against Montreal on Friday, August 11, with the winner set to travel to Toronto two days later.
“Our sole focus is Montreal,” said DC’s Matt Kerrigan. “We know they have a couple of great huckers and some athletes that hurt us last time on the road, so we will be preparing to disrupt their rhythm on those shots. We have earned the right to a couple more practices together and to play in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.”
If the Rush had faltered on Sunday against New York, DC would have risen to the top spot. But for the fifth year in a row, Toronto claimed the regular season title in the East, surpassing New York 20-14 in a fairly sloppy game from both sides.
“It was a good win,” said Rush Coach Sachin Raina. “It wasn’t by any means our best game, but we knew what needed to be done, and we did it.”
The Empire closed the first quarter on a 3-0 run to lead 5-4, but then Toronto scored four in a row to start the second. Up 11-9 at the half, the Rush basically put the game away when New York’s offense could not find its form in the third.
“We fought and we were right there in the first half,” said Empire handler Sean Keegan, “and then we came out in the beginning of the second half and had three bad O-points in a row.”
Darren Wu led the Rush with four goals, while Cam Harris paced the passers with three assists, but for the most part, the Rush’s win was not a byproduct of anyone playing above and beyond. Like many games this year, Raina felt his team just played solid overall.
“That’s either a really good thing or a really bad thing,” Raina commented, regarding the idea that no one really stood out. “In our couple of losses to DC, no one really stood out, and that wasn’t a good thing. But in our game against Montreal, for example, I don’t really think anybody stood out. Everyone just played great.”
The Rush expect to add their three Team Canada World Games bronze medalists—Andrew Carroll, Mark Lloyd, and Geoff Powell—back onto the squad for the playoffs. Though Toronto’s 11-3 mark also qualifies as the Rush’s worst regular season record in franchise history, it was still good enough to finish atop the East. Though they dropped two of three meetings with the Breeze in the regular season, they have never lost to DC at home.
Jeff Maskalunas had never seen live ultimate until he attended the 2013 AUDL title game at Lane Tech Stadium in Chicago, not far from his hometown of Long Grove, Illinois. At the time, he had just turned 17, and his knowledge of throwing was largely built solely by watching videos of Brodie Smith on YouTube. By the time he graduated from Adlai E. Stevenson high school, he had helped organize an after school pickup league, though his ultimate experience remained limited when he arrived at UW-Madison for his freshman year.
He made the school’s B-team and trained hard with the purpose of becoming a Hodag as a sophomore. He succeeded, and throughout his maturation, he took a real interest in knowing the rules of the game. Consequently, he reached out to Josh Cooper, the AUDL Head Ref, to ask a few questions about the finer points of the rulebook. By the spring of his sophomore year, Cooper had offered Maskalunas a chance to be an AUDL referee as a part of the Madison crew, an opportunity he eagerly accepted.
But after a year and a half as an official, the young Maskalunas was still improving as a player. After completing his junior season with the HoDags this past spring, the possibility arose for a somewhat awkward transition. Heading into a two-game road trip, the Radicals were short on numbers. Consequently, they added a couple college players who had just come off Nationals. One of them was Maskalunas.
“I felt like I could hang with the pros when [Madison Coach] Tim [DeByl] called me up,” he said. “I did not initially try out for the Radicals over the winter because I was trying to do research abroad this summer; that fell through for the better.”
On June 17, Maskalunas made his AUDL debut by recording two Ds in the Radicals’ 22-21 win in Pittsburgh. He’s been in Madison’s active 20 almost every game since.
Fast forward to double overtime on Sunday afternoon at Breeze Stevens Field. The Radicals and the Indianapolis AlleyCats were deadlocked at 21, and Madison’s 14-game winning streak over Indy seemed in jeopardy when one of the team’s top defenders, Kevin Pettit-Scantling, was shaken up when trying to catch a 50/50 disc in a pack of several players. Rick Gross got the D for the AlleyCats, and KPS needed a sub.
“I will never know why I chose to put Jeff in there,” said DeByl on Monday.
But after a quick glance at his options and a brief consult with assistant Coach Jake Spiro, DeByl grabbed Maskalunas.
“I remember looking at all the guys on the sideline, and his body language was the best,” explained DeByl.
Meanwhile, Maskalunas’ mind had not forgotten about an unforced error he had made when the score was 20-19 late in the fourth quarter. He had dropped a routine swing because he started to glance downfield before securing the catch. Indy quickly took a timeout, and the Radicals subbed Maskalunas out of the game.
“I wanted retribution,” he said. “I did not let the drop phase me and just tried to be a presence and teammate on the sideline. Tim told me to go out there and make a play, and I told him that I would.
“The play started, and the first pass went off. My guy was next to cut in the stack, and I had good footwork and was able to pursue him to get the layout.”
Three throws later, Peter Graffy hit a wide-open Andrew Meshnick for the game-winning score, and the hero was a guy who had previously been known simply as “Jeff the Ref.”
“After the score, everything started to really set it that we won the battle,” remembered Maskalunas, who had just celebrated his 21st birthday three days earlier. “Hearing the crowd roar and getting all of the cheers from my teammates, there was so much raw emotion; it was incredible.”
On Monday, I asked DeByl if Maskalunas’ late-season play had guaranteed him a spot in the top 20 for the playoffs. The question was quickly affirmed.
“Yes,” said DeByl, as if the answer was obvious. “I mean, I subbed him in on a sudden death line. I don’t think I do anything different there in the playoffs.”
It’s hard to imagine a more improbable meteoric rise for a kid who had never seen ultimate before 2013. With athleticism born from a football and volleyball background, the rising senior at the University of Wisconsin has gone from fan, to ref, to double overtime hero.
“I think we saw Brodie [at the 2013 AUDL Championship Game]; he was the only ultimate player we knew of at the time, so that was pretty neat,” Maskalunas admitted. “It’s pretty cool that I now contribute to [the Radicals], the first ultimate team I watched four years ago.”
The Greatest (Ultimate-Related Social Media Post of the Week)
On a busy weekend of ultimate, there was plenty of good stuff across the social media world. I particularly enjoyed this candid shot of Madison’s Pat Shriwise sitting the press box at Breeze Stevens Field, watching his wife, Georgia Bosscher, receive a gold medal after winning the World Games with Team USA.
Georgia's husband earnestly watching medal ceremony mid Radicals game yesterday pic.twitter.com/MMRyFUyWBt— Madison Radicals (@MadisonRadicals) July 24, 2017
Shriwise managed to squeeze in the ceremony without missing too much of the Radicals’ dramatic victory. At the end of the day, he had a team-high 35 completions, three of which were assists.
It all worked out, but there were some tenuous moments in my travels to Toronto this past weekend.
Since I live within reasonable driving distance from three different airports, I usually have plenty of options for flights. But anytime I can leave out of Greensboro, located just 25-30 minutes from my house, I jump at the chance. Charlotte and Raleigh are both much significant drives, in the 85-90 minute range, longer if there’s traffic. Of course, the strategy behind booking flights is an inexact science. Often, it’s a matter of choosing a longer drive to a direct flight or a short drive to a couple flights that require a tight connection.
This past Saturday, for the first time in a while, I was looking forward to a short drive and plenty of time to read/relax on the planes to Toronto. But when I got to the airport around 4:45 PM, the first leg was delayed. With weather in the Philadelphia area—remember the aforementioned late-afternoon monsoon?—I was in danger of getting stuck in Philly for the night, if I could get there at all. With an afternoon game on Sunday, any early-morning gameday flight would have felt precarious.
But I also noticed that there was a direct flight to Toronto departing from Charlotte at 10:10 PM. So after parking, collecting my stuff, and going inside the Greensboro terminal, I asked if I could get switched onto that flight. Soon thereafter, I was back in my car, shuttling myself 90 minutes south to the late-night flight.
It added a good deal of driving to the weekend, but it was surely the right choice. Surprisingly, customs in Toronto were still pretty hectic around 12:45 AM, but I managed about six hours of sleep before rising to watch the World Games medals get decided in Poland.
In the grand scheme, my altered itinerary was just a slight inconvenience. It could have been much worse.
Seven on the Line
1. While the AlleyCats suffered their seventh close loss of the season and finished 2017 with just five wins, Indianapolis can still brag about having one of the top building blocks in the sport. Amazingly, after registering a +99 to lead the entire league in plus/minus, 25-year-old Rick Gross remains massively underrated. His spectacular season put him in the company of Mark Lloyd, Tyler DeGirolamo, and Mischa Freystaetter, the previous three individuals to lead the league in this aggregate stat. “I cannot say enough about Rick Gross,” Indy Coach Eric Leonard remarked. “His growth from just a few years ago has been staggering. The first time I met Rick, he was the typical ‘athlete, but not yet ultimate player,’ who could win jump balls but not much else. He has become a truly complete player on both sides of the disc, thanks to his hard work and high standard of excellence. Moving him to offense last season really highlights his strengths as a player, so it’s no wonder he’s successful there. He is extremely athletic, a patient and capable throwers, and most importantly, a team-first player.” Gross only began playing ultimate about seven years ago, when his cousin, John Cecil, who plays for the Austin Sol, invited him to pickup. As a raw athlete in 2014, he admitted that it was ‘pretty terrifying’ playing at the pro level and he had minimal confidence in his throws. “When I joined the league in 2014, I couldn’t throw and didn’t want to catch the disc unless I was in the end zone,” Gross remembered. “I had [two] assists that year, so ending the season with 37 is something I’m proud about.” Gross finished 2017 with 61 goals, 37 assists, and 26 Ds, with 18 throwaways and seven drops.
2. The Chicago Wildfire dropped their final game 26-19 on Saturday against Gross’s AlleyCats, but not before Pawel Janas added eight more assists to his résumé. It was the 13th time in 14 regular season games that Janas, the former college champion with the University of Colorado, led the Wildfire in assists. It also gave him 85 dimes for the season, surpassing Mark Burton’s total of 81 for the top spot in the league. He finished one shy of matching the all-time AUDL single-season record of 86, set by Pittsburgh’s Tyler DeGirolamo in 2015. Obviously, it was a high-volume season for Janas, who also far and away led the league in both completions and throwaways. He finished the year with 933 completions, 183 more than the next highest total in the league (Jacksonville’s Bobby Ley had 750). He was four completions shy of the all-time AUDL single-season record, set by DC’s Daniel Selwyn in 2013. To his credit, Janas finished with three fewer throwaways than Selwyn did in 2013, though his 74 throwaways this season was still 16 more than anyone else in the league.
Highlights from June 22 between Indianapolis and Chicago.
3. While Janas and Gross finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in stat guru Dan Fiorino’s “Total Stats” category, Seattle’s Burton claimed the top spot by this measurement, which adds hockey assists and removes turnovers from the plus/minus metric. With 36 goals, 81 assists, 26 hockey assists, and five Ds, Burton registered 148 on the “total stats” measure, while Janas and Gross were at 147 and 146, respectively. San Francisco’s Cassidy Rasmussen, Indy’s Travis Carpenter, Philadelphia’s Sean Mott, Atlanta’s Nathan Vickroy, Atlanta’s Matt Smith, Chicago’s Michael Pardo, and Jacksonville’s Bobby Ley round out the top ten in ‘total stats’ for the 2017 season.
4. It’s been said that the most important ability is dependability. This season, there were 75 different AUDL ironmen, players who saw the field in all 14 games. Three teams, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Minnesota, had seven different players who competed in every game, while New York, Philadelphia, and San Diego each had six ironmen on their teams for the season. Every single team in the league had at least one player who saw the field in all 14 games, except for Austin. Chase Cunningham and Andrew Walch each played 13 of the 14, but no members of the Sol could lay claim to the ironman club in 2017. As mentioned earlier, San Francisco’s Marcelo Sanchez played the most points in the league this season, followed closely by Indy’s Carpenter, New York’s Jeff Babbitt, San Diego’s Dom Leggio, and Chicago’s Janas.
5. Perhaps you noticed that the video highlight package for the San Jose-Los Angeles game began not with a goal, layout, or turnover. Instead, it shared a few seconds of the national anthem, which Aviators veteran Michael Kiyoi played on his alto saxophone. It was the third time he has played the anthem prior to an AUDL game; the first was with the Spiders in 2014, and he also did it once in 2015 when he was helping the Aviators in a coaching capacity while recovering from injury. When he’s not playing ultimate, Kiyoi works as the Instrumental Music Director at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara. After sharing his fine rendition of the anthem, he scored three goals and added a D in LA’s overtime win, declaring that he had fewer nerves on the field than he did delivering the song pregame. “It is actually more stressful than the game because it’s way worse to mess up the anthem,” he said.
6. On Monday, Radicals Owner/Coach Tim DeByl proudly shared that Madison had averaged over 1,000 fans per game for the first time in franchise history. When asked how it happened, DeByl tried to explain the team’s multi-faceted approach. “Well, we put in a lot of hours,” he explained. “The main things are 1) Earned Media (getting the news to cover you). 2) Paid Media (we spend quite a bit on radio every year) 3. Community Outreach (I have spent a ton of times in schools, libraries, after school programs, etc) mostly teaching kids about ultimate and yes Spirit of the Game. Look for underserved areas vs. getting kids of ultimate parents. 4) Lots or small promotions posters, schedule cards, etc…this is just about putting the time in. 5) Kids 12 and under are free! This is important to me because it gives the opportunity for just about anyone to see a game. We’ve seen a big increase every year in the number of kids at the game. There are a ton of other things. The biggest thing is just dedicated your time to it. It requires a ton of passion and energy.”
7. The postseason schedule for the first two rounds may be set, but remember that the team’s do re-seed based upon regular season record entering Championship Weekend. If all four #1 seeds advance, the semifinal matchups in Montreal would pit Raleigh (13-1) vs. San Francisco (10-4) and Madison (12-2) vs. Toronto (11-3). But one upset could flip things around. If Dallas (11-3) won the South, for example, Madison could ascend to the top spot if the Radicals advance. If DC (10-4) upset Toronto, a qualifying San Francisco team would be seeded ahead of DC. While they both are 10-4, the FlameThrowers would get the edge as a result of the teams’ season-long point-differential. Just another wrinkle to think about as you watch the playoffs unfold.
Are you ready for Jacksonville-Dallas, Part III?
Highlights from the last matchup between Jacksonville and Dallas.
It may be a matter of chance in regards to the schedule, but it feels symbolic and appropriate that the Cannons and Roughnecks have this coming weekend’s AUDL spotlight all to themselves. Both teams have been consistently in the top five of the power rankings perspective throughout the season, yet one of them will become the first franchise eliminated in the 2017 postseason this Saturday.
To refresh your memory, the Dallas Roughnecks had won 24 consecutive games before the Cannons handed them their first loss ever in Jacksonville on May 12. Then, eight weeks later, the Cannons became the first road team to ever win on Dallas’ homefield on July 7.
Each game was close—the two contests were decided by a total of three goals—but the Cannons ability to get off to great starts and make clutch plays down the stretch enabled them to get the better of the defending champs. Twice.
This Saturday, the Roughnecks will have Kurt Gibson, an obvious difference-maker who was injured for both regular season matchups. Of course, Kurt’s brother Chris will be suited up for Jacksonville, as if this showcase needed any extra sizzle.
The game is slated to start at 8 PM eastern (7 local time) on Saturday night, and it will air live on the Eleven Sports Network and stream on audl.tv, with yours truly alongside Chuck Kindred for the call.
I can’t think of a better or more explosive way to kick off the postseason.
The Tuesday Toss is published weekly on theAUDL.com during the season. Got a comment or question about the AUDL or the current state of ultimate? E-mail Evan Lepler at AUDLMailbag@gmail.com. Feedback can also be levied on twitter: @EvanLepler