The historic premier defense of the Madison Radicals has been anything but premier so far this season.
The Radicals currently sit at 0-2, for the first time ever, at the bottom of the Central Division, with also being in the bottom three for blocks and having the eighth-worst break percentage. Granted, they have played less games than most the league, it’s still not what Radical defense is about since they joined the league.
A monumental matchup that could determine the trend of their season when they take on the Chicago Union for their home opener of the season at Breese Stevens Field in the Game of the Week. Chicago also stands winless, however they have only played a single game against the Indianapolis AlleyCats in which they lost 19-16.
As it stands, survey results from people around the league put the Radicals with only a 34.5% chance to take home the victory.
Not playing in their favor, Madison will be without top D-line player Sterling Knoche for a second straight week. This leaves players such as Eric Blais and Luke Marks to step up on the defensive side of the disc. With the added pressure of the home opener, injuries to the D-line, and being underdogs, Marks is still confident that there will be a bounce back.
“It’s reinventing our identity and figuring out new roles but, we’ve gained a rhythm these past few weeks. I'm certain that with the rhythm and new intensity that we have, especially at our opener, it's going to feel like a fresh start. So we're ready for sure,” said Marks. “Honestly, people thinking that we are underdogs just fires us up even more. Let them think that. We know and trust what we’ve been building to care how people see us.”
The underdog label can be justified. The Radicals are a young team. They’ve lost both their games on buzzer beaters and had a three week break in-between those games. However, their young team has produced offensively as they are ranked in the top-six in efficiency. Head coach Tim DeByl has seen potential from both the offense and defense, just in different games.
The Radicals have to put both ends of the game together to be able to take home that victory. It will start with limiting the Union’s star-studded handler rotation. It’ll be nice to have the fans on their side giving them a much needed energy boost. However, DeByl understands that his team still has to go out there and put everything together.
“We need it. We got to have those home fans right now. We have the best fans in the league,” said DeByl. “But it’s important to keep players focused, Breese can’t win the game for us. We still have to do the work.”
To get that number one in the win column, Madison’s defense will have to return to somewhat true form against the Chicago Union on May 27 at 6 p.m. CDT. What better way to do so than doing it in their 2023 home opener at Breese Stevens Field during the Game of the Week on Fox Sports 2.