Tuesday Toss: Week 14

July 9, 2019
By Evan Lepler

There may be one weekend left in the regular season, but the fog has mostly cleared on the postseason landscape. Though the scheduling details are not 100 percent definite, here’s a glimpse at what you can likely expect the 2019 AUDL playoff slate to look like:

7/20: East Semifinal- #2 Toronto Rush vs. #3 DC Breeze
7/20: Midwest Semifinal- #2 Chicago Wildfire/Pittsburgh Thunderbirds vs. #3 Chicago/Pittsburgh/Minnesota Wind Chill
7/20: West Championship- #1 San Diego Growlers vs. #2 Los Angeles Aviators

7/21: East Championship- #1 New York Empire vs. Toronto/DC winner
7/27: South Championship- #1 Raleigh Flyers vs. #2 Dallas Roughnecks
7/27: Midwest Championship- #1 Indianapolis AlleyCats vs. Chicago/Pittsburgh/Minnesota winner

All of this is subject to change, but the league should confirm the details by this Sunday or Monday. And of course, the four division winners will all advance to Championship Weekend in San Jose on August 10 and 11.  

Meanwhile, here’s the deal in the Midwest:

  • The only way Minnesota can sneak into the playoffs is for Pittsburgh to lose both of its games this weekend (at Chicago on Saturday and at Indianapolis on Sunday) AND for Madison to beat Detroit, creating a 3-way tie at 6-6 between the Wind Chill, Thunderbirds, and Radicals, a tiebreaker that Minnesota would win.

  • Chicago needs to beat Pittsburgh this Saturday (in the Stadium Game of the Week) to earn a home game as the #2 seed. A Thunderbirds triumph in the Windy City, regardless of their Sunday score in Indy, would surge Pittsburgh into the two-spot, sending the Midwest playoffs back to the Steel City.

  • And just in case it was not already clear, Pittsburgh needs one win to make the playoffs. The Thunderbirds will be the #2 seed if they beat Chicago, the #3 seed if they lose to Chicago and beat Indy, and will miss the playoffs if they go 0-2 this weekend—assuming Madison beats Detroit.

  • The wildest scenario remaining would involve Pittsburgh losing both of its games while Detroit also stunned Madison, a predicament that would leave the Thunderbirds backing into the postseason like a school bus in reverse, stalling out while beeping obnoxiously. Nobody wants to see or hear this. 

Without further adieu, let’s delve into a wild Week 14, a 10-game slate that included plenty of significance and a handful of head scratchers.

The Full Field Layout

Who would have ever guessed that on a weekend featuring Dallas-Raleigh, DC-Toronto, Chicago-Indy, and New York seeking a perfect regular season, it would genuinely make sense to lede with the game that transpired in Detroit? 

The 0-10 Detroit Mechanix, losers of their last 36 games dating back to 2017, hosted Pittsburgh in a contest that the 5-4 Thunderbirds absolutely needed to have. Then consider that Detroit entered the day having been remarkably non-competitive in their most recent games, getting outscored by a combined 34 goals over their last five halves of ultimate. And while Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak had been halted by Indy on June 29, the Thunderbirds still felt like a certain bet to outclass the Mechanix from the opening pull.

Of course, as the legendary Chris Berman might say, ‘That is why they play the games.’

Amazingly, for the first 53 minutes of game-play, Pittsburgh never held a lead. Not for a single second. Detroit scored the first two goals and built a 7-4 edge after one, a 12-8 advantage at the half, and a 17-12 gap through the third. Despite their long losing streak, or perhaps because of it, the Mechanix had been determined to mentally approach each quarter as its own game, and with this mindset, the Motor City was 3-0 on the day heading into the fourth.

“In building our lead, we hit some good hucks, but the more important thing was we were playing as a team,” said Detroit’s Andrew Sjogren, who caught four goals on Saturday and leads the Mechanix with 29 goals on the season. “It’s not about one guy, it’s about playing well together. Another reason we were able to build a lead was just the excitement of being up in a game. Intensity and excitement were infectious for us. And that’s especially relevant for a team as young and inexperienced as ours.”

In the fourth quarter, however, Pittsburgh began to find its rhythm and Detroit, preposterously playing with just 15 active players, started to run out of steam. 

“The start of the fourth quarter was crazy,” remembered Pittsburgh’s Max Sheppard, who led the Thunderbirds with 12 assists, four goals, and two blocks. “It was a multi-turnover point for our O-line, but what really sparked the fire was Jimmy [Towle’s] unbelievable layout block on [Joe] Cubitt as he was about to bomb a lefty backhand. I would say this block saved the game for us given the amount of time needed for us to come back.”

Trailing 20-17 with just over three minutes left, the Thunderbirds scored the final three goals of regulation, including the equalizer with just 1:14 remaining, to will the game into overtime. But just like the early stages of the first half, Pittsburgh stumbled mightily in the extra period, as Detroit registered back-to-back breaks to lead 22-20 with 2:40 left. Astonishingly, Pittsburgh broke right back to even things at 22 with 55 seconds left, and then the two teams traded two more quick scores in the next 30 seconds to keep the game tied at 23. Detroit’s final prayer as overtime expired went unanswered, and double overtime beckoned. 

“The double overtime was just like the first one, multiple mistakes that led to an end zone opportunity for the Thunderbirds,” recalled Sheppard. “Detroit received and then Cubitt threw a perfect flick for the win but Anson [Reppermund] came out of left field for the block.”

Pittsburgh miraculously dodged another bullet when a Sam VanDusen overthrow was immediately followed by a Cubitt drop, a play the Mechanix’s all-star rookie characterized as heartbreaking, as a quick swing from Ed Fox went right through his hands for just his third drop in 551 touches on the season. One throw later, the game was over, as Sheppard sprinted to catch Jon Mast’s huck to propel Pittsburgh to the 24-23 double-overtime victory.

“We motioned for everyone to stay chill and work it in, but I saw Shep’s defender face guarding, without much help over the top, so mostly I just reacted to that and threw a quick flick in,” said Mast, remembering the game-winning delivery. 

Added Sheppard, “I knew exactly what Mast wanted and he knew exactly what I wanted, I just stood and waited for him to throw it into the end zone.”

Afterwards, both Mast and Sheppard said the overwhelming feeling was just a pure and massive sense of relief. Pittsburgh did not lead at any moment throughout the game, but somehow the Thunderbirds still escaped with a victory, leaving Detroit disappointed again as the Mechanix’s losing streak reached 37 games. 

“My teammates and I were devastated after the game,” acknowledged Sjogren. “To come so close to that elusive first win and then seeing it slip out of our fingers at the last second was tough to watch. We had several opportunities to win the game and couldn’t get it done…The two big messages in the locker room were that we know we belong in this league from a talent perspective, but that as a team, we didn’t have the endurance to play a full game on Saturday. We just have to work harder as a team from the start of the season. Our fatigue shouldn’t be an issue this late in the season.”

While the Mechanix have one more chance to avoid heading into the fall and winter after a historic 38th consecutive setback, the Thunderbirds obviously have two games with much more significant stakes in regards to the postseason chase. Quite simply, one win and they are in.

“I don’t think about the hypotheticals very much; all I know is that we need to win,” said Sheppard, who needs just eight goals and seven assists this weekend across the two games to become just the fourth player in AUDL history with at least 50 goals and 50 assists in a single regular season. “Chicago and Indy are both very good teams; it is going to come down to who wants it more. Overall, the Thunderbirds are never out of contention until the last whistle is blown. We have proven we can come back in any game, and this weekend is just another test for the Thunderbirds.”

*****

Speaking of the Wildfire and the AlleyCats, the two teams at the top of the Midwest Division made the Stadium schedule flexers look smart by exhilaratingly battling down to the wire on Saturday night at Grand Park, where Indianapolis celebrated a heart-stopping 24-21 win by scoring three times in the final two minutes to not only win the game but also clinch home-field for the Midwest playoffs.

“It’s a great feeling, absolutely, and I feel like this has been a long time in the making,” said Indy Head Coach Eric Leonard. “It validates a lot of what we’ve been harping on and teaching for the last 5-7 years, and honestly, it’s a huge relief for me personally. Cathartic, perhaps. The core of this team has been together since 2012, and they’ve put so much trust in me as a captain and a coach over the years to get them to the next level. There were lots of times I doubted myself and wondered if I was the guy to lead this group to where I knew they could go. They put in such a tremendous amount of work over a long stretch of time, continually inspiring me to be a part of it all, and winning the division is a clear milestone in our journey as a team. I don’t celebrate many wins, but I did this one—not for long, but still.”

The main story of the game, according to Leonard and others, was the way Chicago rallied back with their defensive pressure after halftime. The AlleyCats had led 14-11 through two quarters, but that three-goal advantage disappeared quickly, with Chicago scoring four of the first five goals to start the second half, tying the game at 15. From there, the teams traded breaks. Indy led 18-16 and Chicago tied it at 18. The AlleyCats were then up 20-18 before Chicago evened things against at 20-all. 

“We’ve learned through the season that we play better as a team when we are having fun and each player is playing selflessly for the other 19 guys on the field,” remarked Chicago Head Coach Dave Woods. “This was our mantra before the game, and we echoed it before the second half. And then we came out firing. We made some key defensive adjustments and were able to string together a few breaks to get us back into the game. And I think it was obvious that all of our guys were having a blast. After trading for awhile, the game seemed like it was going to come down to the wire. At that point, I was pretty confident, as the Wildfire have won the majority of our end-of-quarters. However, as with other losses this season, a few key mental errors allowed Indy some scoring opportunities and they seized them… My guys gave everything they had, we put up quite a fight, and we had a blast. It was an exciting game for the Stadium Game of the Week. My mom told me that the game was tying her stomach in knots as she was watching.”

Both coaches had to deal with a stressful last 90 seconds of regulation, where both teams, with Indy leading 22-21, made some eyebrow-raising decisions to take chances that were not really there. 

“I about lost it on the sidelines with the throwing choices we made with 40 seconds left on the clock,” said Leonard, the exasperated AlleyCats leader. “I know it’s because the guys thought we need to win by two, but man, we had plenty of time to work it and get a much better look. Thankfully, Chicago also lost their minds and weren’t able to punish us for our lack of awareness in the final seconds.”

With 29 seconds left, after multiple turnovers, Travis Carpenter hit Keegan North for the score that made it 23-21. Then, after Chicago’s Tommy Gallagher dropped a quick swing from Pawel Janas, Nick Hutton delivered another bold, possibly foolish decision, but his backhand to the end zone narrowly eluded the bidding defender and found David Hortermiller with just 11 seconds left to put the game away and launch the AlleyCats’ celebration.

Of course, Saturday’s first-place showdown also was the stage for a couple major individual milestones, as Chicago’s Janas tossed his 250th career assist, becoming just the eighth player in AUDL history to reach that mark. Perhaps even more impressively, Indy’s Cameron Brock scored his 500th career goal, a relatively insane achievement since no one else in the AUDL has even reached 300. 

“Coming into the game, I knew that I was one away, and I didn’t expect to get all that emotional about it,” Brock explained to Megan Tormey postgame on the Stadium broadcast. “But once I scored it, turning around and seeing everyone applauding for me and people that had been coming out to games, some for all eight years. Kyle Cox’s mom holding a sign for me, she’s been an awesome supporter. She even told me once, ‘hey, other than Kyle, you’re my favorite player.’ But I also have to thank my wife because I actually bruised my heel on that play, that first goal. And she ran out and got me a gel pad that I could put into my cleat, so shout-out to my wife, Casey. She’s the real MVP getting that to me at halftime so I could make it through the rest of the game.”

While longevity is certainly an aspect of Brock’s scoring prowess, Monday’s AUDL Honor Roll  pointed out that he is one of just three players in the history of the league to average at least four goals per game in a minimum of 50 games. Many of his long-time teammates enjoyed seeing Brock reach the special milestone, including his former college teammate, Keenan Plew, who has been alongside Brock for all eight seasons on the AlleyCats. Plew leads the league’s all-time assist chart with 357 and sits second behind Brock in the goals department, an absurd 220 behind his buddy.

“I’m proud of him for hitting such a historic mark,” said Plew, who went 41-for-41 in the victory over Chicago, with three assists and two goals. “I think we can all agree that the way in which Cam scores his 500th by absolutely roofing his defender was how it should’ve been.”

Asked about the fact that he’s in second on the goals chart behind Brock, Plew said, “I’m sure I won’t be second for long with the solid young talent that’s playing right now. That being said, I told Coach Leonard that we should try and set me up to score 200 goals next game to try and keep pace.”

******

The East Division’s playoff picture cemented itself with Toronto erasing any doubt about their postseason participation thanks to a strong performance against DC, securing the second seed by virtue of their 26-21 victory over the Breeze. The Rush got off to an excellent start by building  an early 3-0 lead, but the key to the game was probably a run in the latter stages of the first half following DC’s second quarter surge.

“We got broken to go down 11-9, but our O-2 line went out and held, and then we managed to get a couple of breaks and prevent a buzzer-beater,” pointed out Rush Head Coach Sachin Raina. “That little run allowed us to carry some momentum into halftime and we built on that in the second half. In fact, that little run was a part of a bigger 10-4 [burst]—down 11-9 to up 19-15—and we didn’t really look back after that. I think the big story was that while we were broken to go on some mini-runs, we didn’t let them score more than two in a row at any point. I think a lot of credit should go to our D-line guys who stepped up every time our O-line got broken and managed to get critical holds.”

Perhaps the most noteworthy play from the heart of Toronto’s rally occurred when Mike Mackenzie, who was playing in his first game since suffering a knee injury in early May, caught a Callahan early in the third quarter.

“Catching a Callahan is one of the best feelings in ultimate,” said Mackenzie, who led the Rush at +8 with four goals, three assists, and one Callahan, which counts as a block and a score. “It was a great pull from Jerry [Meron] and from what I remember we threw double team on them and their handler travelled trying to break it. Whenever we’re playing defense that deep in their end zone, it is a natural instinct to tighten up and be a little bit lively on defense. The disc popped up and I just remembered thinking that I was 100 percent coming down with it.”

Rowan McDonnell led the Breeze with eight goals, while Nate Prior dished five assists and 55 completions in 57 attempts for a DC offense that was missing two of its mainstays, Max Cassell and Cody Johnston. Consequently, the Breeze are already eagerly anticipating their rematch against the Rush a week from this coming Saturday.

“We were collectively stretched a little out of our comfort zone and it showed with some execution errors, especially on offense,” acknowledged Prior. “Toronto did a really nice job of capitalizing on our mistakes. They were very aggressive when we turned over the disc, and it  generally paid off for them. I thought they played a really solid game from top to bottom.”

The Rush rose to 7-5 and seized the second seed in the East, though the current plan for their divisional playoff games will prevent Toronto from hosting. Instead, the Rush and Breeze will meet at the home of the Empire on Saturday, July 20, before New York hosts the survivor a day later.

“To be honest, I think a neutral site game might be the most fair way to decide who the second best team in the East really is,” commented Raina. “It’s been well documented that we’ve had a tough time in DC these last few years, and you mentioned their struggles in Toronto. And then sure, whoever wins that game will have to play New York on short rest, but I think it’s a fair reward for New York after the regular season they had. That will be a tough weekend, and we’ll  probably be at a disadvantage since we have to make a much longer trip, but we’ve played doubleheader weekends before and we’ve got the best Support Staff—therapists and trainers—in the league, so we’ll be ready."

******

Throughout the season, New York Head Coach Bryan Jones has occasionally joked that he signed a “Remember the Titans” style contract, implying that he would get fired if his team lost a single game. Like Herman Boone, the Denzel Washington-portrayed protagonist of the excellent Disney film, Jones’ perfection is narrowly intact through Week 14.  

With another dominant second half on Saturday in Philadelphia, the New York Empire became just the fourth team in AUDL history to march through a regular season unblemished, improving to 12-0 with their 22-20 triumph over the Phoenix. Despite coming out flat in the first half and trailing by as many as five, the Empire relied on elevated intensity and a handful of spectacular individual efforts from great players like Jack Williams and Ben Jagt to close the game on a 15-8 rampage.

“Going 12-0 wasn’t the goal, or the importance, but playing HARD was,” remarked Jones, who previously coached the now-defunct Rochester Dragons and worked as a color analyst on AUDL Game of the Week broadcasts before taking over the Empire in 2019. “There were definitely some playoff spots being determined by that game, and important reps [for many players.] It was really fun that we came back.”

After dealing with a few weather delays in the first half, Jones approached the third quarter with an added sense of urgency, and a 13-10 deficit became a 15-all tie heading into the fourth.

“We knew there was a strong chance they would call the game due to lightning, so we had to treat the third quarter like the fourth,” he explained. “I burned both my timeouts quickly to try and get our breaks back.”

Jagt delivered a dynamic all-around stat-line with five goals, five assists, and four blocks, while Harper Garvey and Conor Kline led the team with six assists and six goals, respectively. Williams also was instrumental in the Empire’s comeback, making a slew of improbable grabs to demoralize the Philadelphia Phoenix, who saw their playoff hopes expire earlier in the night when Toronto beat DC. 

“If someone knew about Toronto’s win, they didn’t say anything,” commented Philly’s Himalaya Mehta. “I personally didn’t know until the end…I think Jagt going both ways started making the difference [in the second half]. He had a bookend play on me that I think shifted momentum. Then, our offense started making needless mistakes.”

The Phoenix had the disc trailing by just one with slightly over a minute remaining, but a questionable no-call when New York’s Matt Stevens might have interfered with Mehta’s ability to make a catch near midfield enabled the Empire to regain possession and punch in the insurance goal that virtually sealed the deal. 

Now, the 12-0 Empire look towards the playoffs following a season where 11 of their 12 games  were decided by five or less. Believe it or not, New York’s +43 point differential for the year is the same as the 9-3 Los Angeles Aviators. They have not always looked dominant, but they are still perfect heading into the most important part of the schedule.

“I can’t speak for the entire team, but we felt motivated to move our focus towards the playoffs,” said Jones, after being asked if the team celebrated the undefeated regular season record. “We haven’t made a big deal of going undefeated at all, and we know that our next game could be our last.”

The Outside-In

In one of the wackier stats of the season, Detroit’s Kevin Coulter was logged as having played 46 points in the Mechanix’s 24-23 double-overtime loss, an insane usage rate for anybody in an AUDL game. Along the way, Coulter racked up four goals, nine assists, and one block, completing 36 of his 43 throws to finish +7 for the day.

It was something of a breakout game for the 29-year-old Northern Arizona University alum, but truth be told, Coulter has been a consistent playmaker when he’s been on the field. Unfortunately for the Mechanix, that has not been too often.

Back in 2015, Coulter accumulated 37 goals and 27 assists in just eight games, leading the Mechanix in both categories. After not playing for the team in 2016, 2017, or 2018, he returned for six games this season, racking up 15 goals and 28 assists along the way.

“[Kevin] is the guy on [the Mechanix] who other teams have to worry about the most,” said Sjogren. “He’s probably the fastest player I’ve ever played with, in addition to being tall enough to win a lot of matchups in the air…He’s second on the team in assists and his high-release backhands are almost impossible for a mark to stop.”

Back in 2015, Brett Matzuka, then with Chicago, set the AUDL single-game record for points played by leading the Wildfire with 53, including 31 of the final 32 in the game, as his team lost to Pittsburgh in overtime. There was an eerie symmetry with Coulter this weekend, as the 46-point performance also ended unceremoniously in a double-OT defeat against the Thunderbirds.

The Greatest (Ultimate-Related Social Media Post of the Week)

After scoring his 500th career goal on Saturday, Indy’s Cameron Brock used a 36-tweet spree to reflect upon and explain his journey as an AlleyCat. Here’s what the tweets would look like as more of a journal entry.

Traveling Tales

Kudos to Ian Toner, Megan Tormey, and the rest of the Fulcrum Production team for collectively carrying the Game of the Week broadcast torch in my absence this weekend. I certainly had regrets about missing it, but I managed to have about 24 hours of refreshing family time at the beach.

The enjoyable broadcasting grind returns this weekend with critical telecasts lined up from now until August 11, when a new AUDL champion will be crowned in San Jose. That’s just 33 days  away, and it should be an entertaining roller-coaster of results between now and then.

Seven On The Line

  1. The Raleigh Flyers secured home-field advantage in the South Division playoffs by taking care of business at home against Dallas on Friday night, winning all four quarters in their 22-15 victory.

    “Can’t say it was the cleanest of affairs, but we got stronger as a team each quarter and were able to grind through some of the tougher points,” remembered Raleigh Head Coach Mike Denardis. “I was super pleased with our defensive effort the entire game. Think our defensive discipline was the biggest factor that led to our success. Dallas only had a few clean offensive points and we contested a large amount of goals they scored on.” Eight different players registered a block for the Flyers, with Joey Cretella, Tim McAllister, and Jeff Nordgren each nabbing a pair. Both teams were missing a handful of their top players, as Henry Fisher, Eric Taylor, and Sol Yanuck were absent for Raleigh and Dalton Smith, Carson Widler, and Thomas Slack were unavailable for Dallas. “The Raleigh game was a lot closer than it looked,” assessed Roughnecks Captain Jay Froude. “The Dallas O-line had three or four goal-line turns that resulted in breaks for the Flyers—that could be a six-point swing. We had two buzzer-beater catches that were just short of the end zone…The last couple of road trips, we haven’t been able to capitalize due to injuries, availability, and having to shuffle our lines around to make do with what we had. Raleigh is still very talented team, but I don’t think they’ve had to play the [best] team Dallas has to offer just yet.” The two teams will meet again, presumably at full strength, on July 27 with a trip to Championship Weekend on the line. “Obviously, Dallas is a team that’s frustrated our franchise for several seasons, so anytime you can beat them by more than five goals in back-to-back games, it feels good. We enjoyed the moment, but it’s time to get back to the grind and prepare to bring our best for the next time our path’s cross.”
     
  2. While the Dallas Roughnecks were locked into the South’s two-seed following Friday’s setback in Raleigh, it was still somewhat noteworthy to see them fall in Atlanta the next night, mainly because the Hustle knocking off the Roughnecks was an occurrence that had never ever happened before.  “We certainly know they were missing some pretty important pieces, but it still felt awesome to beat them,” remarked Atlanta’s Matt Smith, who registered +7 in the game and +50 for the season, the fifth straight season he’s reached that plateau. “They still had a portion of their big guns and honestly they all played a pretty solid game; they really made us earn that win, which is why it was so gratifying to get….We’ve taken leads on Dallas before, but we inevitably have given up plays when they calmed down, but [on Saturday] we had the disc fall our way a few times and we just had a little more fight to us. Eli Jaime stepped up like he’s been doing all season and the offense played a fantastic game. Defense also converted a very high percentage of their breaks, which was great to see. Dallas is a frustratingly tough opponent, and it took a lot for us to beat them, but we finally did it which was a great way to end the season.”  The Hustle finished 2019 with a 5-7 record, winners of five of their final eight games after a wire-to-wire 23-19 win over the Roughnecks. One wonders how their ledger might be looked at differently had Nashville remained in the division, enabling three playoff berths instead of two. If the NightWatch had not folded after the 2018 season, perhaps we would be analyzing a third-place Hustle team that’s headed to the playoffs rather than a below .500 squad that missed the postseason for the third year in a row.
     
  3. With Atlanta’s victory over Dallas, there are now only two divisional rivalries in the AUDL where one team has never beaten the other. In the East, Ottawa is 0-15 against Toronto. In the Midwest, despite nearly ending their ignominious slide on Saturday night, Detroit is 0-14 all-time against Pittsburgh. With their win on Saturday, the Hustle joined the Austin Sol and the Philadelphia Phoenix as teams that earned their first win against a particular opponent in 2019, as the Sol edged Dallas in overtime back in April, while the Phoenix snuck pas Toronto in May. Additionally, two other franchises also earned their first win against a particular opponent late in the 2018 season, as Indianapolis beat Madison in June and New York shocked Toronto in the playoffs in August. Obviously, the AlleyCats and Empire both built on those historic results a season later, with each winning the regular season title in their division for the first time.
     
  4. Meanwhile, the Madison Radicals avoided an 0-3 season against Minnesota by finishing strong in their 22-17 victory on Saturday night at Breese Stevens Field.

    The win snapped Madison’s four-game losing streak and enables the Radicals to reach the .500 mark for the season if they can beat Detroit on Sunday. “We experimented a bit with our lines and rotations, which paid dividends for us,” commented Andrew Meshnick, who’s made a career built on his defense but was one of several Radicals whose role shifted on Saturday against the Wind Chill. “The defensive line applied consistent pressure all game. Obviously, this started from the top with [Kevin Pettit-Scantling], but Luke Marks and Kyle Dreger turned in impressive performances for us in their AUDL debuts. The talent pool in Madison and the greatest Wisconsin area is always deep and continuously feeding new players into the Radicals program. Keep an eye out for those two names in years to come.” Along with Meshnick, Chase Marty also played more O-line that he’s been accustomed to in the past. Another newer Radical, Rami Paust, had a breakout game with four assists and 19 completions; in his previous two appearances this year for Madison, Paust had mustered just one assist and eight completions. Clearly, the Radicals, eliminated from postseason contention following their home loss to Chicago in Week 13, are focused on the future, integrating new, young pieces into their lineup to see who can contribute in 2020. It also gives their loyal fans an opportunity to see some of the team’s next generation of talent. “We wanted to make sure we played as well as possible during these last two regular season games for the rabid Radicals fan base that always does such a tremendous job of supporting us,” added Meshnick. “They deserve it.”
     
  5. Behind seven more goals from Quentin Bonnaud and a bunch of tough snags from his countryman Sacha Poitte-Sokolsky, the Montreal Royal won the rubber match of their 2019 season series against the Ottawa Outlaws, a 25-22 triumph on Thursday night at Claude-Robillard Stadium. Nick Boucher and Karl Loiseau had seven goals and seven assists, respectively, for the Outlaws, but Montreal won the second quarter 9-5 to lead 17-14 heading into the half. Late in the third, Ottawa evened the score at 19-all, but the Royal scored the next three goals to re-establish their lead. Both of these clubs will host Philadelphia in Week 15 to determine the final order of the East’s bottom three. Currently, Montreal’s fourth at 4-7, Philly’s fifth at 3-7, and Ottawa sits in the cellar at 2-9.
     
  6. In the final two West Division games that had little bearing on postseason seeding, the two SoCal squads both won and covered on the road against San Jose and Seattle. San Diego improved to 10-2 with a 26-20 triumph over San Jose, bolstered by Wes Groth’s career-high +11, with five goals, five assists, one block, and no turns. Meanwhile, San Diego’s Scott Radlauer had almost as many blocks as the entire Spiders roster, as Radlauer finished with seven Ds and San Jose’s full team only mustered eight. The talented teenager Keenan Laurence finished with four goals and five assists for the Spiders, but San Jose concluded its season, that began with final four aspirations, at a disappointing 3-9. Similarly, the Aviators rose to 9-3 and left the Cascades at 2-10 when Los Angeles surpassed Seattle 31-23 on Saturday evening at Memorial Stadium. Tim Beatty, Nate Ransom, and Aaron Weaver each finished with multiple goals and multiple assists and finished as LA’s top three in completions, the trio combining for a perfect 83-for-83 evening under the Space Needle. Mark Burton closed his 2019 campaign with five assists and 40 completions in 41 attempts for the Cascades, giving him 33 dimes on the year in his seven games played, enough to lead the team but far fewer than the eye-popping totals he accumulated each of the past two years when he racked up 81 assists in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
     
  7. The first spot at Championship Weekend will be clinched on July 20 in San Diego, when the Growlers host the Aviators for the West Division title. While San Diego finished the year with a better overall record, Los Angeles had the better point differential. And though home-field advantage is absolutely a desired commodity, it’s worth noting that the road team actually won three of the four regular season meetings between the SoCal rivals, with the Growlers winning both matchups in Los Angeles and the two teams splitting the pair of games in San Diego. Traditionally, these two teams have always been really close; in fact, in 22 all-time meetings since 2015, Los Angeles holds a narrow 12-10 edge.

The Hammer

With just six games remaining in the regular season, here’s a look at the top five leaders in each of the main statistical categories.

GOALS

  1. Quentin Bonnaud (MTL),  73

  2. Rowan McDonnell  (DC), 59

  3. Ben Jagt (NY), 54

  4. Eli Jaime (ATL),  52

  5. Sean Ham (SD), 47

ASSISTS

  1. Pawel Janas (CHI), 69

  2. Andrew Roney (TB), 63

  3. Josh Klane (MIN), 62

  4. Ben Jagt (NY), 54

  5. Harper Garvey (NY), 53

BLOCKS

  1. Jimmy Kittlesen (MIN), 28

  2. Kevin Pettit-Scantling (MAD), 25

  3. Drew Swanson (CHI), 22

  4. Sterling Knoche (MAD), 21

  5. Anson Reppermund (PIT), 19

PLUS/MINUS

  1. Quentin Bonnaud (MTL), 90

  2. Ben Jagt (NY), 90

  3. Rowan McDonnell (DC), 83

  4. Max Sheppard (PIT), 70

  5. Travis Dunn (SD), 67

Hope you enjoy the final weekend of the regular season, and we’ll dive into the postseason smorgasbord of speculation in this space next Tuesday.


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