May 24, 2018
By Louis Zatzman
The 6-0 Toronto Rush will continue their trek across the East this Saturday, with a game against the Philadelphia Phoenix at Waterloo Warrior’s Football Field in Waterloo, outside of Toronto, at 4:30 PM Eastern. The game will be played in support of the Waterloo Organization of Disc Sports, and it will serve as a Rush home game despite not taking place in their traditional home stadium at Monarch park. Tickets are still available.
Toronto’s tightest game of the season thus far was played against the Philadelphia Phoenix. Though the Rush only escaped with a one-point victory, there were several factors working in Philadelphia’s favour. The game was incredibly windy, with gusts directly up and down the field, which equalizes skill. Furthermore, Toronto was on the second leg of a long road trip, and the game was preceded by a bus trip from Toronto to New York, and then New York to Philadelphia.
Toronto, as usual, had no single player dominate. However, Jay Boychuk (1 assist, 4 goals) and Andrew Carroll (3 assists, 2 goals) led the team from an offensive standpoint. Boychuk in particular energized the offence whenever he was on the field.
“I feel like our whole O line is just superstars,” he told me after the game. “Every single one of them is just a superstar, and I’m kind of just the guy who does the dirty work. I like to make space for those guys, and try to get guys moving, try and pull their guys away from them so they can go and get the disc. I feel like it’s working so far.”
Boychuk may not be available this Saturday, out with an LCL tear. (He’s assured me it’s the least significant CL to hurt, and he is hoping to be able to play against Philadelphia. Don’t expect a long injury.) The team will decide whether he can go during Thursday night practice, but if he’s unable, who can replace his constant energy, motion, and grunt work?
Dutch rookie Ben Oort has been terrific for the Rush on the season, second in goals with 13. He didn’t play in the first Philadelphia game, but Oort has exploded since then. He caught six goals against the D.C Breeze, and Oort’s timing on his continuation cuts has been the life-blood of Toronto’s offence whenever he’s been on the field.
Drew Wilson may also get time on the offence if Boychuk is unable to play. He offers a similar body type: smaller, thin, legs for days. Wilson has only played in two games on the season – both sparingly and on the D-Line – but expect to see him impress against Philadelphia. If he gets significant run with the offence, he could well add to his season total of two goals.
In the first contest between these two teams, Philadelphia was led by their star trio of Sean Mott, Ethan Peck, and Scotty Xu. The three combined for 14 goals and 8 assists. The only one of the three playing against Toronto this time around will be Sean Mott, as the Phoenix will be thin on their road trip. Philadelphia may be short on handlers, so it’s possible Mott may be a lead thrower; in that case, expect to see Brett Tan to see a lot of time defending him, with Jason Huynh and Jaret Meron filling in as well. If Mott is used as a threat cutting downfield, Bomber Powell and Marijo Zlatic should be primary defenders there.
To help set the stage for the game, Trey Katzenbach, the player-coach-everything of the Phoenix, was generous to take time and speak with me.
Louis Zatzman: The East is ridiculous right now. DC beat Raleigh and then got smacked by Toronto, for example. How do you see it shaping up, and how do you know what type of team you're going to be facing going into any game?
Trey Katzenbach: I think Toronto deserves to be discussed as the best team in the league. I think New York is clearly the next best team in the East and needs to be discussed as a serious contender for the title. I think every other team has a chance at the last playoff spot. I go into every game thinking that we need to play our best.
Louis: Obviously, that New York loss (23-15) wasn't what you wanted. You were missing some important guys at beach nationals, but what went wrong other than that?
Trey: The New York game was the first time this year that we were not competitive. Yes, we were missing some players, but they were too. New York played the best defense we’ve seen against us all year, and we failed to adjust. It was an odd game because we did not play well, but when I went back over the stats, they weren't that bad. That tells me that the mistakes were spread out across the board and no one individual had a really bad game. It was also the first time that the offense didn't play well. We were off and missing on some easy throws, and then we started pressing and making throws that we don't usually make.
Louis: Your last game against Toronto was the toughest test the Rush have faced this year. Last game was in Philadelphia - how do you repeat the same effort playing in the Rush's home turf?
Trey: The weather was not good. I thought that it would benefit the Rush more, because of their elite throwers, but the wind was a big equalizer. I expect them to be much better now a month into the season, and it will be a difficult game for us to keep close. I hope that we can limit the number of unforced, execution errors and make Toronto earn their D's on offense and defense. I think we will have a young roster in this game, and I want the players to play loose with energy.
Louis: Two game road trip. How do you mix stamina with effort? Do you consider focusing on one game, and only playing some important pieces against Ottawa, for example? What's the balance to make sure you aren't going home without any wins?
Trey: I've never been able to "throw" a game and focus on the must win game. It is just not in my DNA. We will strategize the same as we did during our last trip to Canada: play hard the first game knowing that we have reinforcements to roster the next game against Ottawa.
The line is Tor (-5.5) vs Phi (+5.5) per AUDL pick em