May 1, 2018
By Evan Lepler
After another wacky weekend in the AUDL, the word to best sum it all up is wow.
Three more games went to overtime, while another contest deserved five additional minutes but ended in a rare draw after enduring four separate weather delays. Through 40 games on the season, exactly half have been decided by three or less, including 11 one-goal games.
But that’s only the beginning of the jaw dropping drama.
It’s commonly known that winning the second game of a road back-to-back is incredibly difficult. Well, Week 5 saw two teams with challenging road doubleheaders deliver surprising results with unlikely symmetry. They each lost their Friday night tilt in OT, and then overcame fatigue and frustration to knock off a strong opponent 24 hours later. Those two wins also happened to come over the league’s last two champions.
Beyond that, the league witnessed unforeseen end-of-game insanity. A pair of teams led by one with possession of the disc and just five seconds remaining but somehow could not seal the deal in regulation. One of those squads fortunately ended up prevailing in overtime, while the other suffered the wrath of a particularly devastating setback.
At the end of April, three teams are still undefeated, three remain winless, and everyone else is jockeying for competitive position in a league where, more and more, it seems like anything can happen. Championship Weekend in Madison is just 102 days away, and the only certainty is it will be a wild ride.
Now, onto the Week 5 excitement…
The Full-Field Layout
For starters, the Austin Sol know excitement. In three games, they have won at the buzzer against the Los Angeles Aviators and twice surrendered a buzzer-beating equalizers with no time left in regulation. Nine days ago, the Sol fell to Dallas in overtime after Jay Froude hit Kai Marshall to force the extra session. This past Saturday, the Sol required OT after an even more shocking fourth quarter conclusion, but managed to respond and avoid the ultimate heartbreak.
Austin had already coughed up a four-goal lead in less than three minutes at the end of the third and start of the fourth. The Raleigh Flyers torrid 4-0 rally—initiated partly by a preposterous buzzer-beating 90-yard flick from Justin Allen—evened the score at 19 with 9:55 remaining in the fourth. It appeared like the Flyers had all the momentum in the world.
Despite that, the Sol never fell behind.
“Other than those three minutes, we played pretty good,” said Austin Coach Ryan Bigley. “We played about 50 minutes of good ultimate. Those two and a half or three minutes late in the third and early in the fourth cost us.”
Still, the Sol should have won in regulation. They were up 21-20 and took over possession after a Flyers miscue with just over a minute to go. A dozen throws later, the Sol were around midfield with about five seconds left, one more completion away from securing the victory.
“I knew they only needed one more pass to run out the clock, so when I saw the open guy, I thought that was the nail in the coffin,” said Raleigh’s Noah Saul. “The thrower [Mick Walter] wound up, and I ran towards him hopelessly, but when I saw the throw go up, I thought, ‘holy (expletive), I can get there.’"
Walter’s throw was errantly loopy and too far ahead of its target, and Saul laid out for the unbelievable block. Even more impressively, he popped up immediately and flung the disc toward the goal.
“Then I thought, ‘please reach the end zone,’ and I looked to see who might be able to catch it,” Saul continued. “It felt like I was hoping for a miracle, especially with Austin’s height, but when I saw Goose and Jack tracking it down, I thought we had a chance. We seem to have a knack for making big plays like that in the AUDL, and we were able to do it again.”
Jonathan "Goose" Helton elevated and attacked the disc to snag the game-tying goal, stunning the Sol and forcing overtime. To his credit, Bigley quickly tried to turn the page.
“When that last play happened, I was just looking forward to OT and trying to prepare our guys,” said Bigley, who told his team that they were going to rewrite the script and not have another result like Dallas the previous week. “I’m super proud of how they responded.”
Neither team was perfect in the overtime, but the Sol were steadier and made the plays to prevail 25-23, adding a goal at the buzzer to win by two after Raleigh had scored with two seconds left to inch back within one.
Chase Cunningham continued his strong statistical start to the season, leading the Sol with eight assists and four goals. Rory Orloff caught seven scores, while Ethan Pollack chipped in with three (along with three assists), including a buzzer-beating snag at the end of the first quarter that gave Austin a 7-5 lead.
While the Sol had the rest of the weekend to relax, the Flyers had little time to wallow in their woe. The loss in Austin had dropped Raleigh’s record to 3-2, and the second game of the weekend would arguably be even tougher than the first. Considering that the Dallas Roughnecks entered Saturday’s action with 17 wins in 18 home games since the franchise was founded in 2016, Raleigh knew it would have its hands full.
“My message was essentially that there are two ways to respond,” explained Saul. “One is to feel sorry for ourselves and make excuses going into the Dallas game and give ourselves a reason to fold in case things don’t go well. The other option is to suck it up, work harder, play tougher, come together, and how everyone what the Flyers are really about.”
Without question, the Flyers made a statement on Saturday night against the Roughnecks. While they were without three players who had competed on Friday night, they added Mischa Freystaetter, who had missed the Austin game, to their Saturday roster. With the score tied at one, Freystaetter recorded a powerful foot-block of Dallas handler Brandon Malecek on the goal line, and the Flyers broke to go up 2-1. They never trailed again in their 24-20 victory.
“Against Dallas, we stuck to our defensive game plan and tried to focus offensively on keeping better spacing,” said Saul. “I think that really helped our offensive flow. The most satisfying thing for me was that we found and maintained the energy we needed to win the second game of a long road trip.”
It was sweet revenge on many levels, both after the loss on Friday and even moreso after falling to Dallas 17-14 at home on April 7. While it may not matter at the end of the season, it’s worth noting that Raleigh’s four-goal win gave them the head-to-head point-differential tiebreaker over Dallas, should that become a late-season conversation.
Raleigh and Dallas were both missing players who figure to be key cogs throughout the season, but the Flyers who were present on Saturday showcased their playmaking depth. Helton was unstoppable throughout the weekend, scoring eight goals with 12 assists in the two games. Jack Williams added seven goals and 10 assists, while nearly every other Flyer made a clutch play to help hand the Roughnecks their first loss of the season. Froude dished seven scores and caught two goals—including a third quarter Callahan—but the shorthanded Roughnecks were thoroughly outplayed on their home field, losing at home for just the second time in three years.
What’s the toughest two-game road trip in the AUDL? There are two possible answers.
One candidate is obviously Texas, as only one team has won twice in the Lone Star State in the same weekend. Last July, Jacksonville beat Dallas 28-27 on a Friday and surpassed Austin 31-27 on Saturday.
But since the West Division came to be in 2014, no team has ever beaten both the San Jose Spiders and San Francisco FlameThrowers on back-to-back days, a fact that still holds true after being tested this past weekend.
The San Diego Growlers came out hot on Friday against the Spiders, bolting to leads of 5-1 and 8-3. By halftime, however, San Jose had used a 6-2 run of its own to creep back within one. And the Growlers 10-9 halftime edge disappeared quickly in the third quarter, with the Spiders taking their first lead of the game at 11-10. San Diego responded to go up 15-13 early in the third, but the seesaw struggle continued, and Growlers found themselves down 17-16 late in regulation. After San Diego tied the game at 17, each team had multiple chances to surge back ahead on the final point of regulation, but the stingy defenses prevailed, forcing overtime.
“The conditions were a bit windy and that caused some problems, but I think the low scoring game was more of a result of good defense and undisciplined offense from both teams,” acknowledged San Diego Coach Kevin Stuart.
San Jose opened OT with a turnover-free hold, culminating in Ethan Falat hitting Jackson Stearns for the go-ahead goal. At the time, no one could have imagined that there would not be another goal scored in the final four minutes of overtime.
“There were multiple turns on both sides,” San Diego’s Steven Milardovich said about the game’s last point. “Both teams used their timeout. We had the disc at least three times, and two of our turnovers were in the red zone. Whether it was tired legs or a lack of discipline, we failed to execute our offense at a high level and we came up short.”
San Jose’s 18-17 overtime triumph handed San Diego its second loss, giving every team in the West exactly two losses heading into Saturday’s action. Understandably, the Spiders felt fortunate to only have avoided their third loss after starting the game so sluggishly.
“We’re definitely relieved to be 2-2 rather than 1-3,” said Stearns, who finished with a game-best five goals. “I don’t think 1-3 would be a death sentence in the West at all this year, but it would have been very disappointing to lose, at home, after fighting back. What felt exciting though, in the locker room and after the game, was knowing that we haven’t really scratched our potential yet. As with a lot of teams at this point in the season, between injuries and absences, we haven’t seen our full roster in action yet, and we know we have a ton of room to grow and improve.”
On Saturday, with two wins on the weekend no longer possible, San Diego desperately hoped to avoid getting swept. Heading into the fourth quarter, though, a winless Bay Area journey looked likely. The Growlers trailed 19-16 and were pulling to start the final period. Suddenly, and quickly, the momentum shifted.
“The first point of the fourth quarter set us track to go on a run,” remembered Milardovich. “We had been throwing our zone for much of the game, but our marks got more aggressive and forced a tough scoober into a tight window that they couldn’t complete. We called a timeout and then quickly scored on a hammer, and that is when our sideline really got fired up and started to feel it. Riding that energy, we mixed in some man defense and started to really fly around. Several guys had big blocks down the stretch, including Will Turner and Wes Groth, but our team defense overall was just smothering once we got the momentum rolling. It felt like we were able to take their best shot and hang tough, then when we put our foot on the gas in the fourth, we could sense that they were not going to match our energy. Our mental toughness put us in a position to seize control of the game with our defense.”
The Growlers opened the fourth quarter with six consecutive breaks, transforming a three-goal deficit into a three-goal lead at 22-19. Overall, San Diego outscored San Francisco 9-2 during the final 12 minutes to take the game 25-21.
“We certainly let one get away on Friday night against San Jose, but if at the start of the season you told me that we would split our Bay Area trip, I would certainly take it,” said Stuart. “Playing in San Jose and San Francisco in back-to-back games isn’t easy, and I am very proud of how our guys responded after a tough loss and then being down three going into the fourth quarter in San Francisco.”
With all due respect to Raleigh and San Diego’s turbulent journeys, the wildest results of the weekend unfolded in the East, where the Montreal Royal, DC Breeze, and Philadelphia Phoenix all entered the weekend at 1-1.
The Royal trekked to Ottawa for the Outlaws home opener, and the two teams engaged in a wild shootout. It started off normal enough, with Ottawa leading 11-9 at the half. Then the two teams combined for 23 goals in the third quarter, and the Outlaws led 24-19 heading into the fourth.
The Royal closed the gap, but still trailed by two after Nick Boucher’s bobbling grab with 45 seconds left. Down 30-28, Montreal’s Yoland Cabot connected with Cam Burden to inch within one, but now only 15 seconds remained and the Royal were hoping for a miracle.
The Outlaws completed three passes and needed one more to put the game away when Laurent Loiseau’s flick up the line popped up over the intended target. Montreal’s Gabriel Monfette intercepted the past and narrowly beat the buzzer with his backhand prayer to the end zone. Amazingly, two Royal receivers were there! Though they almost disastrously collided with each other, Malik Auger-Semmar made the leaping grab to tie the game at 30 and force the third overtime of the weekend.
“It was an insane feeling,” said Monfette. “We were ready to go win this game in overtime.”
Ottawa was understandably stunned, but with five more minutes on the clock, the Outlaws hoped to match Austin’s poise from the previous day. When the Outlaws broke Montreal on the opening point of the extra period, they had to feel pretty good. But the Royal rediscovered their mojo from late in the fourth, racing on a 5-2 run to prevail 35-33.
“The game felt like a pretty big roller coaster from start to finish, with big plays happening fairly constantly throughout,” said Alec Arsenault, who led the Outlaws with nine goals. “We were a bit bummed at the end of regulation knowing we had thrown away a five-point lead, but Nick Boucher led the team chat and I think he said it pretty well: ‘if we had known we’d be heading to overtime against Montreal ahead of time, we would be pretty pumped.’ So we were fired up heading into overtime regardless of the mishaps that led us there. So far this season, it’s felt as if we’re our own worst enemy on the field at times, making mistakes that turn into momentum swing for our opponents.”
As Ottawa slipped to 0-3 in heartbreaking fashion, the Royal were fired up and relieved to be 2-1. Without the services of O-line mainstays like Quentin Bonnaud and Kevin Quinlan, the Royal were buoyed by the clutch play of Burden (seven goals, five assists) and Miguel Goderre (55 completions with zero throwaways, along with four assists and two goals).
“They were really excellent,” said Montreal’s Morgan Hibbert about Burden and Goderre. “They ended up being double shifted a bunch, providing a spark to the D-line especially in terms of facilitating the offense after the turn. Burden has become absolutely vital to this team’s offense. His relentless pace with his legs and consistently smart decisions with the disc. He’s probably our MVP through three games.
“Goderre is a kid that is just starting to break out. He played Team Canada U-24 Mixed this past winter and is improving every time he steps on the field. He had our ‘TSN turning point’ in the game. It was late in the game but before our comeback, as we were still down a lot. The O-line was about to get broken again as Ottawa hucked it down the field. Goderre had one of those massive hustle plays where he busted his ass down to the en zone and basically got in the way, preventing the bigger Ottawa receivers from scoring the goal. Turnover, our disc, we walk it down and score. I think he saved the game for us with that effort play.”
Following their Saturday afternoon victory, the Royal fully expected to have company at 2-1 by the end of the night, as Philly and D.C. squared off that evening to try and join Montreal in a tie for second place in the East. Instead, the Phoenix and Breeze waged a gripping yet disjointed battle that ultimately left both teams unfulfilled.
“There were four lightning delays,” said D.C.’s Max Cassell, “with the first two paired with torrential downpours of rain. The field was soaked, with patches of mud in spots. First half was gusty, but things seemed to settle down for the second half.”
The most frustrating part of the night for both teams was probably the variability in the weather, as the conditions changed frequently.
“The weather started out calm,” began Philly’s Ethan Peck, “then came heavy droplets. It was cold, windy, [then] calmed back down. Every time we came back on the field after a lightning delay, we were greeted with a new weather pattern.”
The playing conditions understandably limited offense. It was 4-4 after one, 8-7 Philly at the half, and 17-15 DC at the end of a calmer third quarter. At this point, there were whispers on both sidelines that it was going to be tough to finish the game.
“There was talk that the game would get stopped early and whoever was up when it was stopped next would win,” said Philly player/coach Trey Katzenbach. “I think this affected how we played. We started forcing things and found ourselves down two late in the game. We were aware that the game could not go past 10 PM because of our contract with the city, so we decided with the referees not to start a point after 9:50.”
If the final quarter had featured a lot of offense with the clock stopping frequently, they almost surely would not have finished the full 48 minutes. However, an 11-turnover point early in the quarter wound more than five minutes off the clock. A DC score might have put the game away, but Greg Martin connected with Peck to bring the Phoenix back within one. Another break with approximately 40 seconds left evened the score at 18, and the Breeze were unable to deliver a dramatic game-winner in the waning seconds.
With the clock closing in on 10 PM, there was no time for five more minutes, and the game was declared a draw. It was the second tie in AUDL history, joining a Minnesota-Chicago game from 2015 where weather halted the game as well.
“If you had asked me before the game, I would have been disappointed with the tie,” said Katzenbach. “At the end of the game, it felt like the right outcome for how disjointed the game was. “We only play DC twice this year, so it means our next and last game with them [on June 30] will be for the tiebreaker. That seems fitting.”
Despite Katzenbach’s level-headedness, the circumstances created frustration on both sides, especially with the Breeze.
“No one wants to go to bed that night with a tie,” said Cassell. “It felt like a loss for us really, giving up a couple-goal lead in the fourth with no chance to make up for it. I’m not exactly sure how a draw in our record will play down the line, but I doubt it will do us much good.”
While Philly was also exasperated by the evening and disappointed to not get a chance to win in OT, the Phoenix’s outlook is an optimistic picture. In three games against the three East Division playoff teams from last year, Philly has won by five against Montreal, lost by one to the Toronto Rush, and earned a come-from-behind draw vs. D.C.. But all three games have been at home, and now they will look to carry that confidence onto the road. Five of their next six games, in fact, will require travel.
“We are going into each game expecting to leave with a W,” said Peck, who has led the team in goals (11) and assists (16) through three games. “We went into the DC game with that mentality, and we’ll go into this first Canada road trip with that in mind. We’re fired up. We’re not satisfied. And I don’t think the team will be satisfied with a playoff berth. Despite being a young team, our ceiling is high. Everyone is on the same page mentally and emotionally.”
The confidence is encouraging, though the player/coach also realizes that they still have a ton to prove.
“I am worried about this stretch of road games,” Katzenbach admitted. “We need to learn how to win tight games.”
The Phoenix will face Montreal on Saturday and Ottawa on Sunday.
After nearly sweeping their Bay Area road trip, the San Diego Growlers finished April at 3-2, in first place in the West. Considering that San Diego had gone just 1-12 in April over the previous three seasons and started 2018 with a 13-point setback, the Growlers are in excellent shape heading into May.
Prior to the season, Coach Kevin Stuart had hoped that significant continuity on the roster would help them get off to a better start than years past. And while that has been partially true, it’s a tad ironic that, in Stuart’s opinion, San Diego MVP from the Growlers’ Bay Area weekend was a relatively unknown AUDL rookie.
“If I had to give out an MVP for the weekend, I would give it to Scott Radlauer,” said Stuart, referring to the 23-year-old UC-San Diego product who accumulated four goals, five assists, and three Ds in the two games. “He is really coming into his own. I thought he had a fantastic game against San Jose and then played his role very well in San Francisco.”
Having played in four of San Diego’s first five games, Radlauer has registered eight goals, eight assists, and three blocks, while completing all 37 of his throws. He has played primarily on the O-line, although Stuart has also used him for specific defensive matchups when needed. In the Bay Area this past weekend, Radlauer’s defense made a huge difference.
“In San Jose, I gave him the Jackson Stearns assignment midway through the third since Jackson was killing us, and he got a few layout blocks. Then, in San Francisco, Lior Givol was giving us problems and I told Scott to lock him down in the fourth, which he did for the most part. Scott is a guy that can play anywhere he is needed and is willing to grind out points when necessary, and I think that’s slowly becoming the identity of our team.”
The Greatest (Ultimate-Related Social Media Post of the Week)
Shortly after Raleigh’s win over Dallas went final, the Atlanta Hustle cleverly chimed in on twitter:
The actual race is far from over, but the surprising Hustle are a small leg up on the rest of the South as the calendar flips to May. Of course, it’s one thing to relax on an idle weekend and take sole possession of first place as stray shells belt your adversaries. It’s a totally different challenge to remain in first place with lots of season left and plenty of obstacles on the road ahead.
This weekend, the first-place Hustle will be wary of lightning bolts, banana peels, and Dr. Flatball shenanigans as the 2-1 Austin Sol ride into Atlanta this Saturday. The Hustle are home against Austin and Tampa the next two weeks before heading back on the road for the tough Texas Two-Step, at Austin and Dallas on back-to-back days, on May 19 and 20.
On Saturday night in Dallas, Megan Tormey and I had a makeshift broadcast booth in the stands at The Colony, home of the Roughnecks since the team’s inception. It was a beautiful night, and our perch gave us an excellent view of the action.
Shortly before the game, we struck up a brief conversation with a few people from the row in front of us. Turns out it was their first ever AUDL game, and they did not even know the sport or the league existed until a couple weeks ago, when they were flipping through the channels on a Saturday night and stumbled upon Stadium. They watched part of Austin’s miraculous last-second win against Los Angeles and were amazed by what they saw. As residents of Frisco, a Dallas suburb, they learned where the Roughnecks played and made plans to attend their first game. Though the home team did not deliver a dramatic win on this particular day, they still seemed to enjoy their experience mightily.
It was a good reminder that most people are still innocently ignorant of our great sport, and any time we take the field or go on the air, we have the opportunity to help others fall in love with our game. These people are probably not reading the Tuesday Toss, especially a few thousand words in, but they are waiting to have their minds blown by Justin Allen flick, Goose Helton sky, or Jay Froude layout, even if they don’t know it yet.
Seven on the Line
- Though most everyone’s preseason expectations had the Chicago Wildfire finishing above the Indianapolis AlleyCats in the Midwest, the AlleyCats have the early advantage after their 25-21 triumph in Chicago on Saturday. Indy’s three-goal burst in the opening minutes quickly vanished as Chicago’s 4-1 run tied the score at four. But the Cats ran off the game’s next five goals and never trailed once in their impressive road performance.
“I think we did a better job of simply being relentless,” said Travis Carpenter, who finished with two goals and four assists in a team-high 30 points played. “All game long, we kept our energy up and were never satisfied with whatever lead we may have had. Our O-line was really clicking, and we were able to hold out for the second half and did not allow them to get too close.” Keenan Plew registered three goals, three assists, and went 47-for-47 distributing the disc, while Levi Jacobs recorded six assists for the AlleyCats, who improved to 3-1 on the season. “Improving to 3-1 at this point in the season is pretty much exactly where we wanted to be,” said Cameron Brock, who paced Indy with five goals and a +7. “At the end of the year, it’s going to come down to head-to-head for the playoff spots. Starting off 3-0 against non-Madison teams is huge, considering we can pretty much pencil in Madison to the playoffs. It’s the other two spots that will likely be up for grabs. Right now, we’ve made a statement by beating our non-Madison opponents, and we are hoping to keep doing that. We’ll be working hard this week to prep for both Detroit and Pitt. They have both struggled early in the year, but we aren’t taking anyone for granted.”
- Meanwhile, after their home loss to Indy, the Wildfire were not looking to make excuses about missing a handful of key players because of injuries. It was unforced errors, rather than missing stars, that Chicago most regretted afterwards. “I think it would be easy for me to say that we lost this game because we were missing guys like Kurt [Gibson] and [Nate] Goff, but in reality, this was a winnable game for us,” explained Chicago’s Michael Pardo. “We had a lot of mistakes in the backfield and turned the disc on easy swings and resets. Once we got into a bit more of a rhythm, our O-line actually played pretty well, but going down that many breaks is unacceptable. That really ‘hamstringed’ us. We have a bit of soul searching to do. I think this bye week comes at a good time for us, especially because of the injuries. We need to work on the little things. We have the right pieces, we just haven’t executed at the level that we know we are capable. I am as responsible for this as everyone else. This is a good wakeup call for us.”
- As for the squad that most everyone has understandably penciled into the playoffs, Madison continued its torrid defensive start by routing the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds 29-13. The Madison Radicals took an 8-1 lead in the opening quarter and never looked back, improving to 3-0. Madison has not trailed for a single second in a game this season, and the Radicals have only allowed 38 goals in three games.
“This year feels different for us,” said Kevin Pettit-Scantling, who paced the Rads with five assists against the Thunderbirds. “Last year was a hangover, where we found it difficult to play our game consistently. While we are still having some early season stumbles, we are recovering from them much quicker. We are executing our game plan more efficiently, and for longer periods of time.” Perhaps the biggest story from Madison’s most recent triumph was Andrew Meshnick matching an AUDL record with eight blocks, an achievement that deserves its own note.
- With four blocks in the opening quarter on Saturday, Meshnick was halfway to the all-time single game mark, previously achieved by four other players. New York’s Ben Ivers did it in 2013, while Detroit’s Eric Hubbard and Nathan Champoux and Madison’s Peter Graffy also registered the defensive snowman in 2016. Truth be told, Meshnick would have recorded nine blocks to snatch the record for himself if he had simply caught all of his Ds. “Late in the fourth quarter after I deflected a pass that was eventually caught by Pittsburgh, Coach [Tim] DeByl mentioned to me on the sideline that if I had gotten that block, it would have tied the single-game record. From that point on, I think everyone on the team helped me tally that eighth block of the game. I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates for playing great defense, which forces the opponent to make highly contested throws, resulting in blocks. Luckily for me, on Saturday, I was beneficiary of eight of those throws. My favorite block that I had was a layout under catch-block. It always feels [great] when you’re able to snag one of those.”
While Meshnick undoubtedly benefits from the Radicals’ defensive system, his ability to accumulate eight Ds on Saturday was a tribute to the many factors that have made him one of Madison’s most indispensable contributors. “I think we assume that the blocks Mesh gets are gimmes, but he consistently is our smartest and most efficient defender,” said Pettit-Scantling. “Five blocks is a result of good team defense feeding the disc into a block vacuum. Eight blocks is a result of cleverness, endurance, and spectacular athleticism from an individual. You could come up with a lot of excuses for why he is always doing so well, but can you make excuses for six straight years of that type of effort? He constructs the situations that put him into advantageous positions. There are times when he’ll come off the field and talk to me about a switch, or offensive scheme the opponent ran, and I never even saw it.”
- The Tampa Bay Cannons finally got off the schneid, smashing Nashville in a cathartic 25-13 result. The Cannons dominated each half equally, surpassing the Nashville NightWatch 12-6 in the first and 13-7 in the second. While it’s unclear how many games Tampa will win this season, it seems like the Cannons will once again have a handful of their players among the statistical league leaders. On Saturday, Nathan Vickroy registered a +8, bringing his league-best plus/minus to +35. Bobby Ley added five assists, Jordan Huston scored five goals, and Andrew Roney collected six Ds. Heading into May, a couple first-year Cannons are tops in the league in goals and assists. AUDL Rookie John Taylor leads the league with 20 goals, while Vickroy, formerly with Atlanta, has dished 27 dimes, one more than Seattle’s Mark Burton.
- Is playing at home still an advantage? It seems absurd to even ponder the question, but through five weeks, the data indicates otherwise. While road teams only went 4-4-1 in Week 5, road teams actually have won more than they have lost through the first 40 games of the season overall, going 20-19-1. Perhaps even more amazingly, underdogs—according to the official spreads on AUDLpicks.com—have won or covered in 26 of those 40 games. This past weekend, seven of nine underdogs covered, with six of them winning outright.
- As Louis Zatzman reminded us with his excellent story about Ottawa’s Karl and Laurent Loiseau, the league is littered with brotherly teammate duos. Aside from the Loiseaus, there are also Derek and Ken Alexander in Ottawa, Mitch and Matt Bennett in Austin, Andrew and Kevin Brown in Madison, Chris and Dillon Larberg in Dallas, Iain and Mike MacKenzie in Toronto, and Mike and Ryan Drost in New York, who happen to be the only twins in the league. Tampa’s Peter Van Brussel and DC’s Matt Neeley both have brothers who have played in the league in the past, but neither Avery nor Jonathan are currently playing for the Cannons or Breeze, respectively.
After easing into the season with a month that saw an average of just eight games per weekend, the 2018 schedule will really ramp up in the coming months. Over the first five weeks of the season, only one weekend slate featured more than nine games. Contrarily, there will be at least 11 games on the docket in eight of the next 11 weekends.
Four franchises—Austin, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and San Jose—have multiple games on tap this weekend, part of a 12-game Week 6 slate that includes the first matchups of the season between a bunch of divisional rivals, such as Madison-Minnesota, DC-New York, and San Francisco-Seattle.
There’s also 2-1 Austin and 3-0 Atlanta, who are poised to rekindle what’s secretly the most thrilling rivalry in the league. To review, here’s the history between the Sol and the Hustle:
5/15/16: Austin 23 Atlanta 22 (2OT)
6/18/16: Atlanta 31 Austin 29 (OT)
5/20/17: Atlanta 28 Austin 27
6/4/17: Atlanta 27 Austin 24
6/25/17: Austin 26 Atlanta 25 (OT)
Overall, Atlanta leads 3-2, with three of the five meetings requiring overtime. The five games have been decided by just eight goals.
So far this season, the Hustle and Sol have proven they can also play close games against other teams. In fact, that’s all they’ve done so far, as their six combined games in 2018 have been decided by just nine goals.
Inevitably, the upcoming weekend will find new barriers to break and more surprises to process. Each game is an opportunity, and the roller coaster ride is just getting started.
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