Tuesday Toss: Week 5

May 7, 2019
By Evan Lepler

In my five years and five weeks covering the AUDL, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more stunned by such a lopsided result. It wasn’t just that the Los Angeles Aviators beat the struggling San Jose Spiders on their home field. LA lambasted them, 25-16, in a game that quite frankly did not feel that close. The Aviators dropped a pair of wide open goals, and the Spiders actually looked half-decent on offense in the second half. Still, this was a thrashing, lifting the Aviators into first place and leaving the Spiders reeling in last place, one game away from the midway mark of the season.

The surprises came from many angles. For starters, San Jose’s many standouts were unable to exert their will whatsoever, while Los Angeles’ no-names made one smart, safe play after another. And when a disc was thrown a little too far or too short, too bladey or too floaty, the Aviators had a ridiculous knack for coming up clutch. Mostly, they patiently dump and swung while the Spiders hucked to, at best, a defended target, and at worst, to no one at all. After falling behind 2-0 in the opening two minutes, the Aviators disc movement was sparkling for the final 46.

Maybe this should not have be so shocking to me. After all, the Aviators have now won 20 of their 23 games against the West, dating back to 2017, while the Spiders replaced their coach after a 1-3 start and their only victory required a seven-goal second-half comeback against Seattle. But heading into the game, and comparing the two active rosters, I felt that San Jose had the slight edge. I put stock in championship track records of Antoine Davis, Marcelo Sanchez, Justin Norden, and Chuck Cao, among others, while also seeing that the Aviators had eight rookies in the lineup, none of which were household names heading into the season. Furthermore, it’s been well established that Los Angeles lost a bunch of firepower from a year ago, and many of the returners have been asked to significantly shift their roles from past seasons. Certainly, I imagined a scenario where LA’s superior teamwork and buy-in could absolutely win the game, but I just did not contemplate the Spiders getting completely rocked the way they did.

For the Aviators, it was a true team win. Eight different guys scored multiple goals, while only seven Spiders found the end zone at all. Six Aviators recorded multiple assists, a feat achieved by just two Spiders. One could argue that San Jose’s Norden had the best overall individual game, at least statistically, but the next five best players were definitely Aviators, and there were probably 10-12 different guys who could make a case to be included in that top five.

It was just one game, and the narrative could be rewritten quickly if Los Angeles stumbles at home against San Diego or if San Jose bounces back against an inconsistent Seattle squad this coming weekend. At the moment, however, these are two teams, as I declared during the open of the broadcast, trending in very different directions.

My hunch was that we’d see a competitive battle. It’s humbling to be that wrong.

The Full Field Layout

Just when it felt like Los Angeles and San Diego Growlers would be completely separating themselves from San Jose and Seattle out West, the previously winless Seattle Cascades flipped the script with their 25-21 triumph over the previously undefeated Growlers, a reminder that the West Division cultivates surprises better than any other quadrant in the league. Obviously, there’s still a three-game wedge between the pair of 4-1s and the pair of 1-4s, but considering that the two top teams and two bottom teams will face each other this week, it’s a certainty that the gap will narrow after Week 6, and there’s plenty of head-to-head play remaining over the next couple months.

On Saturday, neither Seattle nor San Diego led by more than one until the Cascades D-line converted a clutch score to make it 17-15 in the third quarter. The Growlers managed to tie it up at 20-all midway through the fourth, but Seattle, after struggling mightily in fourth quarters throughout the season, rampaged on a 5-1 run down the stretch to close out a 25-21 victory.

“San Diego is talented, but we knew that we could beat them going in,” assessed Seattle's Mark Burton, who dished nine assists in his return from a three-game absence. “We played close games with them in our past history, and it was time for us to finish it out.”

Jay Boychuk and Brad Houser each registered six goals for the Cascades, while Khalif El-Salaam led the Seattle D-line with three blocks and three assists. Zach Sabin also recorded four blocks for the second time this season.“We made some major switches in our subbing strategy as well as our defense’s offense and have high hopes for the duration of the season,” commented Houser. “Our defense got tons of blocks against San Diego, and despite a low conversation percentage—growing pains of a new offensive look—we are very confident in our ability to get blocks against any team in the AUDL…We are just ramping up, and don’t expect this to be the last ‘upset’ for the Cascades this year.”

Seattle is particularly excited to activate Sam Cook this weekend for the first time in 2019. Cook, who will turn 22 in 10 days, caught 24 goals with 15 assists and six blocks in just seven games a year ago, and should add another weapon into the Cascades calvary.

From San Diego’s perspective, one stumble should not provoke panic. But the Growlers do have three of their next four games against Los Angeles, a team that has unquestionably improved since losing the season opener by two in San Diego.

*****

As the West approaches the halfway point of the season, the Midwest still feels like its just getting started. On Saturday in the Windy City, the Chicago Wildfire played just their second game of the year, and it unfolded very similarly to their first.

Like the previous matchup in Minnesota, the Wildfire and Wind Chill were tight for most of the first half, and then Chicago created separation in the third quarter. On April 20, the Wildfire got sloppy and needed a heroic block from Drew Swanson in the final seconds to prevail by one. A couple weeks later, they were not about to make the same mistakes again.

“I think the main story on Saturday was situational awareness and how that needs to dictate the shots we take offensively,” commented Chicago’s Ross Barker. “In our first game against Minnesota, we took a fairly big lead early in the game. However, we focused too much on trying to take time off the clock and took really poor, risky deep shots offensively. Both of these crucial mental errors allowed Minnesota to crawl back into the game for a very spectator-friendly game, to say the least. We practiced different situations the following two weeks to test everyone’s awareness. I would say that our situational awareness was much better this game and allowed us to keep the lead once we attained it.”

Up 11-10 at halftime, the Wildfire bolted on a 3-0 run to start the third quarter, led 18-14 heading into the fourth, and then scored the first two points of the final frame to extend the lead to six. Calm offense ensured that Minnesota would not creep any closer than five the rest of the way, as Chicago closed out a 23-17 triumph to improve to 2-0.

“Most pleased by the buy-in and guys executing their roles to maximize the team’s chances of winning,” explained Wildfire handler Pawel Janas. “In particular, Ross Barker agreeing to quarterback the D-line even though he could rack up some great stats and highlights on an O-line, Seth Weaver doing a good job against a very good player in Josh Klane, and Jack Shanahan and [Michael] Pardo utilizing the downfield space created by [Matt] Rehder. Nick Zeman got a filthy block in the second half that ignited our sidelines.”

Janas paced the Wildfire with five assists, while Rehder caught five goals for Chicago. Barker, who mostly played offense in 2018, did a good bit of everything for the D-line, finishing with three assists, two blocks, and one goal.

“Last year, Wildfire had the lowest amount of blocks in the league, and our D-line offense was too stagnant,” remembered Barker. “Rarely were throws being made vertically, and we couldn’t convert breaks. So coming into Wildfire [this year] knowing that we had all of these additions to our team, I convince my co-captains and coach to let me mainly play on the D-line.”

It’s only two games against one team, but so far the move has reaped dividends, both for Barker, who has five assists, three goals, and three blocks, and his team. The Wildfire, who went 12-30 over the past three seasons, are sitting at 2-0 as one of the five unbeaten teams in the league.

“Obviously, winning feels great for the first 12 hours or so, but we have to move on to the next game,” said Janas, who now sits just six assists away from becoming the 11th player in AUDL history with 200 assists. “It doesn’t get any easier for us as we travel to Pitt next week—a really underrated squad filled with talented and athletic young playmakers.”

Players wisely spout cliches about taking everything one game at a time, but the Tuesday Toss bears no accompanying obligation. Here, we look ahead. If the Wildfire can snag a road win at Pittsburgh and Madison can take care of business at home against Minnesota in Week 6, then Week 7 would feature a battle of unbeatens when the Madison Radicals and Wildfire square off in Chicago.

That would presumably be just one of the two potential showdowns between perfect squads on May 18 in the AUDL, as New York and Toronto are each a home win away from also taking unblemished resumes into Week 7. Technically, the Rush also will need a road victory on Friday, May 17, in Philadelphia, in order to remain flawless heading into the Empire game.

*****

Among the 10 contests that transpired this past weekend, only one was decided by three goals or less. And, to tell you the truth, Indy and Pittsburgh did not even feel that close.

The Indianapolis AlleyCats came out firing and the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds began brutally on Saturday in the Steel City, surging Indy to an early five-goal cushion that never shrunk any smaller than two in Indianapolis’ 19-16 road victory. Up 7-2 after one, the AlleyCats did not win any of the other quarters, but still returned home with their third win of the season.

“Our main focus going into the game was winning the energy battle, and the team responded with a huge first quarter,” said AlleyCats Head Coach Eric Leonard. “Setting the tone with good energy on the road felt really important; a six-hour drive to play a game in the rain, and it’s easy to imagine us coming out flat. But I couldn’t be happier with how we started that game off. We had a lull in the middle of the game, and Pitt’s defensive pressure increased, but our offense regained their composure and simply possessed the disc with tremendous patience. Defensively, we did enough to get the win, but our conversion percentage has to improve if we want to compete come crunch time.”

Rick Gross paced the AlleyCats with an Honor Roll-worthy performance: four goals, three assists, and two blocks. Brett Matzuka also received praise after his high-volume handling display, helping Indy hang on to the disc for extended stretches in the second half. Thomas Edmonds paced Pittsburgh with another impressive distribution performance of his own, with four assists, three goals, and 53 completions in 54 attempts, but the Thunderbirds could not dig themselves out of their early ditch.

“The first quarter was a pure failure to execute on the offensive side,” admitted Pittsburgh’s Mark Fedorenko. “We tried to over rely on bladey same third of the field shots. With the light rain, we were inconsistent in maintaining the throwing quality that we were used to in practice. Indy did a solid job of pressuring our force side sucks as well.”

As Indy improved to 3-1 heading into their interdivisional showdown with Atlanta, Pittsburgh dropped to 0-3 with a home game against Chicago on tap. The Thunderbirds have played their last two opponents close and don’t feel too far away from stringing some wins together, but if they don’t snag at least two of the next three May home dates against the Wildfire, Mechanix, and Wind Chill, the Thunderbirds will likely see their playoff aspirations squelched for the second straight season.

“Our goals going forward are to continue developing offensive chemistry and reduce our tendency to give up a break run in one quarter,” added Fedorenko. “On the defensive side, it is to generate more offensive efficiency after the turn to help us go on defensive runs.”

The Outside-In

Honestly, all eight of Los Angeles’ rookies who were magnificent on Saturday in San Jose deserve to be written about here. Of course, I already wrote about Danny Landesman in this section a few weeks back, and Joc Jimenez has received some well-deserved publicity for his breathtaking skies and joyful celebrations. The other half-dozen dudes, Xavier Charles, Kyle Conniff, Ryan Smith, Collin Gall, Nate Kirchhofer, and Garrett Santi, all had their moments to shine against the Spiders. Collectively, in fact, these eight rookies combined for 14 goals and 10 assists against San Jose.

“Everyone is working hard this season,” stated Aviators Player/Coach Tyler Bacon, who won an AUDL championship as a member of the Spiders in 2014. “Saturday’s victory was proof. It’s easy to slot in guys like Collin Gall and Ryan ‘Red” Smith, who are quick learners and brilliant coaches at UCSB and CSULB. I trust them to make the right plays when we need them. Kyle [Conniff] and X[avier Charles] are both fearless hard workers that are relatively new to the game, and it’s fun to see what they can do with our cast of veterans around them.”

Of everyone on the team, Conniff was the only Aviator who mustered multiple goals and multiple assists on Saturday, finishing with two goals and three assists in just his third ever AUDL game. No one was more surprised than he was.

“I think the team had a lot more confidence in me than I had in myself, but all of their confidence and support made me all the more nervous, anxious, and afraid to make mistakes,” remarked Conniff, who did not make the team when he tried out in 2018 but persevered and earned a spot this season. “Cue this weekend’s game, I was incredibly nervous, especially being on the O-line. I never play offense. I love defense. I constantly talked to my partner, Elena, throughout the week, and called my dad a few times during the week to try and figure out how to find my normal confidence going into the game. It wasn’t until after warm-ups, the anthem, and shortly before the first point, [teammate Aaron] Weaver came up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes—like, straight through my eyes and into my mind—and said, ‘Conniff, go out and play your game. We have full confidence in you.’ Then he walked away, and it felt like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders. I went out and just played.”

An all-around athlete who played football, soccer, basketball, and ran track in high school, Conniff felt relatively burnt out by competition when he enrolled at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, choosing to focus on schoolwork early in his college career. In the spring of 2015, he studied abroad in Perth, Australia and thought a gym membership was too expensive for just one semester, so he signed up for the ultimate group, thinking he could try and stay in half-decent shape by chasing some plastic. And then, in his words, he ‘fell in love.’ He became enamored with throwing and would frequently venture alone to a nearby park, where he’d launch discs into a soccer goal that didn’t always have a net. He studied different ultimate players on YouTube, and when he returned to the United States, he was completely hooked on the sport and determined to see how good he could be.

That winter, he attended Madison Radicals tryouts, where he felt he matched up athletically but also acknowledged he had a ton to learn about the intricacies of the game. Three days after those Radicals tryouts, however, in January of 2016, his quest to keep training as an ultimate player was derailed when he injured his ankle playing pickup basketball. Thinking it was just a sprain, he tried to rehab it himself, only to later find out a few months later that it was much more serious when an MRI showed significant damage.

“It took 18 months of rehab before I could start playing again,” remembered Conniff. “I focused on throwing and watching games during that time to be the best player I could be upon return.”

Having moved to the west coast for grad school at UC-Irvine, he felt he played well at Aviators’ tryouts prior to the 2019 season after falling short in 2018, but also recognized that the franchise’s significant roster turnover may have played a part in a spot opening up for him. Regardless, he’s found a role, and on Saturday against San Jose, he stepped up and had unquestionably his best game yet.

“Scoring my first goal was a huge relief,” he acknowledged. “But the buzzer-beater [to Zach Theodore at the end of the first quarter] and second goal maybe gave me a little too much confidence, because the blade to Danny was a bad decision [even though Landesman made a sensational layout catch]…Having a game on offense has me feeling a lot more comfortable and confident moving forward and knowing that the team’s trust is genuine and that they are here to help me through the growing pains.”

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

The Toronto Rush are hoping that their on-field performance in 2019 will help them forget how last year ended. Actually, several members of the Rush, particularly Head Coach Sachin Raina, apparently struggled to remember what happened in the East Division playoffs a season ago.

“Last game last season we beat Montreal, and I don’t recall what happened after that,” says Raina, stone-faced, in this Rush-produced video. “We beat Montreal, and then the season ended. That was it. For whatever reason the AUDL didn’t hold playoffs last year. It was really weird.”

The selective memory is amusing, but there’s no question that everyone on the Rush vividly recollects their disappointing home defeat. Undoubtedly, whether they admit it or not, they are aggressively attempting to learn from their past mistakes in order to avoid repeating them.

Traveling Tales

Thankfully, my first cross-country trek of the season went relatively smoothly, with on-time departures and comfortably-made connections. Aside from a Friday night dinner with a couple cousins in downtown San Francisco and hanging with Chuck Kindred for the first time this year, the highlight of the trip was probably watching four AUDL games at once on Saturday afternoon.

Which of the four games was I primarily listening to? All of them, of course.

Yea, it was a bit of a challenge to fully comprehend the dueling quartet of play-by-play voices—Charlie Eisenhood (Toronto), Tucker Warner (Atlanta), Greg Esser (DC), and Matt Weiss (Pittsburgh)—but it also was awesome to have all four broadcasts live and buzzing.

If only they had been closer games.

Seven On The Line

  1. Even though the final margin was four, the Atlanta Hustle and Austin Sol felt like the closest game of the weekend, as the Hustle closed on a 6-3 run to prevail 23-19 for their first victory of the season. After falling behind 1-0 when Kyle Henke hit Ethan Pollack for a quick strike just 20 seconds into the game, the Hustle scored the next two goals and never trailed again, leading 6-4 after one, 11-8 at half, and 16-14 thru three before pulling away in the fourth.

    After struggling mightily offensively against Raleigh last week, the Hustle looked like a different team with Elijah Jaime back on the field. Jaime scored six goals and Player Pierce dished seven assists as the Hustle snapped their four-game skid, while Matt Smith was his usual self, a rock for the Atlanta O-line, with three goals, two assists, and 31 completions with zero throwaways.
  2. Things did not improve much for the Sol on Sunday in Raleigh, where the Raleigh Flyers pounced from the outset, leading 5-1, 9-3, and 13-5 by halftime. “We keep starting games out too loose,” remarked Austin Coach Steven Darroh. “I don’t know what the remedy is, but it’s something I blame myself for as coach.” It did not take long for Raleigh’s Jonathan Nethercutt to impact the proceedings in his 2019 season debut, as he intercepted a Sol deep shot on the game’s opening point, then assisted two other breaks in the first quarter. Though missing the first four road games of the season did not alter his general mindset when taking the field, the 2017 AUDL MVP did acknowledge that stepping onto the D-line, after mostly playing offense in the past, did shift his approach a bit. “Its refreshing and exciting to be able to hone in on a team’s offense and to be able to focus and get motivated about a particular matchup,” said Nethercutt, who led the Flyers with five assists while completing 33 of 34 passes. “More than anything, it was a nice change of pace to play in a game where the other team really doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to focus defensive attention on me, since most of my offensive play came in transition after a turn.” With Nethercutt on D, Eric Taylor continued to pilot the Flyers offense, dealing four assists with just two turns in 55 attempts. Kiron Allen and Charlie Muniz combined to complete all 52 of their throws, while Henry Fisher snagged four more goals in a 16-for-16, turnover-free performance. “We’ve known for some time Eric Taylor’s skill set was going to transition beautifully to the AUDL field,” commented Nethercutt. “He got great throwing power on both sides, can break the mark well, has good vision, and makes good decisions. He’s also got a lot of chemistry with Henry Fisher. Those things made it obvious that he’d be a good fit for the offensive unit this year, whether I was going to be there or not. I’ve been very impressed with how well he’s performed in the handler set, especially for a guy who has spent the past four years primarily as a downfield cutter and defensive player.” At 4-1, the Flyers hit the road on Saturday for an intriguing matchup with 2-0 Tampa Bay, who’s been idle the past couple weeks. Meanwhile, the Sol’s winless weekend dipped them to 1-4 heading into home games against Dallas and Tampa the next two Saturdays. It’s basically do-or-die time for the Sol’s 2019 playoff hopes. “Takeaway message at halftime in the Raleigh game true at-large: most teams aren’t getting great blocks on us,” declared Darroh. “They are affecting us in that we’re playing into their defenses’ plans to get us in tight situations, [like] trapped on a sideline. But other than that, we’re executing poorly. Sometimes it’s the offense, sometimes it’s our defense’s offensive effort after we get a turn.”

  3. Though half of the Toronto Rush’s all-time regular season setbacks have come against the Montreal Royal, another Rush stumble was not in the cards on Saturday in the team’s home opener.

    Back at Varsity Stadium for the first time since 2017—renovations to the University of Toronto facility forced them to play elsewhere last year—Toronto endured three lead-changes in the first quarter before asserting themselves thereafter. Though it was just an 11-10 lead at halftime and a 16-13 margin through three quarters, the Rush remained composed and confident in securing their 21-16 victory. “It was a very strange game in that it was close for almost the whole game, but there was not much panic or stress from our side,” remarked Toronto’s Thomson McKnight. “On O, we felt mostly comfortable. They were taking away early deep looks but we were able to run the beginning of plays and get into flow. Our D was also getting lots of turns and making them seemingly work harder.” Though Montreal’s Quentin Bonnaud came through with an eye-popping eight goals, half of his team’s total output, a more balanced effort from the Rush boosted them to 2-0. Nathan Hirst led the way with four goals and four assists, while Akifumi Muraoka and Andrew Carroll chipped in with four goals and four assists, respectively. Defensively, Phil Turner registered multiple blocks for the second straight game, giving him five blocks on the year, one more than he mustered in the four games in played in 2018. “From a big picture standpoint, it’s nice to see another group of young players join the group and fit in well,” added McKnight. “Every year, we seem to have a new crop that give us the luxury of having depth. Also, Akifumi fitting in straight away has been another huge part of our team. Having a language barrier has meant all our players have to think and explain what we are doing in simpler terms, and I believe it is helping everyone learn and understand what we want to do better.”

  4. The Ottawa Outlaws played in 76 points that resulted in scores throughout their two-game road trip. Unfortunately for the Canadian bad boys, they only held a lead after one of them. On Saturday in DC, the Outlaws fell behind 2-0 in the opening minutes, then trailed by as many as 10 in their 24-15 setback.

    On Sunday in Philly, Ottawa’s O-line converted an opening score to lead 1-0, but then the Phoenix scored the next four goals and led the rest of the way in their 21-16 triumph. Across the pair of East Division games, DC’s Rowan McDonnell clearly delivered the headlining individual performance, cataloguing six goals, four assists, one block, and 30 completions in 31 attempts for a spectacular +10. The Breeze’s offense remained unbroken from the opening pull to final buzzer, as DC improved to 2-1 on the season. “I was most pleased by my team’s focus throughout the whole game,” remarked DC Coach Darryl Stanley. “We got out to a good start in the first half; it would’ve been very easy for a younger team to take their foot off the gas pedal, but this group kept up the types of behaviors required for a comprehensive victory. Philly’s effort was characterized by more balance, as five players hauled in multiple scores and five players also dished multiple assists, with Billy Sickles (three goals, two assists) the only Phoenix in both of these categories. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Philadelphia’s first victory of the year was that it doubled as Ethan Peck’s final game of the season. Peck was third on Philly’s 2018 squad with 36 assists and fourth with 19 goals, but a new career opportunity is taking him to Colorado, ending his 2019 AUDL season after just three games. “The first win of the season is always the most difficult,” said Peck. “Checking that box gives the coaching staff, the players, the management, the gameday volunteers, the fans—everyone involved with the Phoenix organization—a reason to stay excited, a reason to come to practice, a reason to pour more into an organization that has a bright future. The  Phoenix is an incredible group of people that values player development and camaraderie as much as on-field success, and it’s bittersweet to say goodbye. I’m happy I was able to end my tenure with a win, but moreso, thankful to end while playing with some of my closest friends. I’ll be following from afar and excited to see them bring the first for the rest of the season.” Off this weekend, the Phoenix will return to action with home games against Toronto and Montreal on May 19 and 25.

  5. On a weekend where teams on doubleheaders went 1-5, the lone win belonged to the Minnesota Wind Chill, who stormed past the Mechanix 31-22 on Sunday afternoon in Detroit. Watching the first half, the Wind Chill looked little like a team playing for the second straight day, bolting to leads of 3-0, 5-1, 7-2, and 9-3 by the end of the first quarter. “As we moved on to Detroit [following Saturday’s loss in Chicago], our message was that we needed to come out fast and take the game from them,” shared Minnesota Captain Bryan Vohnoutka, who collected five goals and 10 assists in the Wind Chill’s split trip. “Going 0-2 on the weekend would be a huge blow for us in trying to make the playoffs for a fourth year in a row. We knew they would be gunning for us on the second game of a back-to-back…We got turns early and converted them. From there, we wanted to continue to push the pace.” Against the Mechanix, seven different members of the Wind Chill finished +5 or better, led by Vouhoutka’s +10. Jimmy Kittlesen and Isaac Leonard recorded plenty of production exclusively on D, while Josh Klane, Cam Burden, Michael Jordan, and Matthew Ladyman joined Vohnoutka as the primary damage-doers on O. Vohnoutka also heaped praise upon Jordan Taylor, who ‘may not have as many stats, but he is one of the defensive leaders for this team. He set the tone with his consistent play and tough defense.” With their record level at 2-2, the Wind Chill embark on a six-game stretch—starting in Madison on Saturday—against the Radicals, AlleyCats, Thunderbirds, and Wildfire, a half-dozen dates that will absolutely define their season.

  6. Prior to the game in San Jose on Saturday night, while chatting with Bay Area-based AUDL referee Jim Lemons, I became fascinated by something that he is experimenting with in games this year. On his wrist, he wore a special bracelet that was actually a sophisticated metronome, a device often used by musicians to help set tempo. As a professional drummer, Lemons is quite familiar with keeping the beat, which gave him the idea to set his wrist metronome to 60 beats per minute, or once every second, to help him more accurately keep the stall count while officiating ultimate. Saturday was just the second game that he employed this technique, and the other three officials did not have the same technology on their wrists, but it still struck me as a creative possibility for more accurate stall-counting in the years ahead. He did not keep it on the entire game; but when he was the trailing official responsible for keeping the count, he would tap the metronome with his finger, creating a small vibration on his wrist once every second, a tempo that he set pregame using his connected smartphone. If he was not a professional musician, he probably would not have spent $100 on the specialized device, but it was interesting to learn about his innovative technique, one that I had never seen before from an AUDL referee.

  7. With the ever-growing international presence around the AUDL, I have been particularly gratified by the amazing worldwide audience that has tuned into the Friday Forecast podcast so far this season. The stats that SoundCloud has compiled are actually quite fascinating, with the podcast registering plays in more than 50 different countries in just the past 30 days! After the United States and Canada, Russia, France, Ukraine, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, and India round out the top 10 in terms of most plays. I don’t have access to any statistical breakdown of readers of the Tuesday Toss, but I would imagine the data would be somewhat similar. Suffice to say, I greatly appreciate everyone who listens, reads, and follows the AUDL, wherever you may be. It’s pretty damn cool to see this league steadily growing into an intercontinental existence.

The Hammer

One final anecdote to cap the week. It may make you root for the Seattle Cascades to win the rest of their games.

In switching up their lines on Saturday night against San Diego, the Cascades chose to go with just seven bodies for the O-line, and the group of Jay Boychuk, Mark Burton, Bryson Simon Fox, Peter Geertz-Larson, Brad Houser, Thomas Lassetter, and Henry Phan played virtually the entire game whenever Seattle was on O. At the end of the night, that group of seven had completed nearly 97 percent of their combined passes (191-for-197). Obviously, they are hopeful that they can keep that group together, and collectively they made a pact that would go into effect if the Cascades can win eight straight games to end their season.

“Most of us agreed on getting a ‘Jays7’ tattoo if we win out,” shared Burton. “Jay Boychuk seven. It was in part Jay’s idea to switch line calling, and then I said who would be in for getting it as a tattoo if we win out?”

The Cascades have a long way to go and it’s hard to fathom Seattle morphing from 0-4 to 8-4, but lesser rallying cries than a team tattoo have galvanized improbable success in the past. The Cascades do have their next three games agains the struggling Spiders, so perhaps they can gain some momentum and send San Jose into even deeper despair before closing the season with home and homes against the Growlers and Aviators.

I’m not a tattoo guy myself, but I have no problem rooting for others to ink themselves up. Of course, seeing the Cascades win eight straight would certainly be even more stunning that what unfolded in San Jose on Saturday night.

As far as I see it, that’s totally fine. The more surprises the better.
 

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