By David Petmecky
On April 6th, the Hustle fell 17-18 against the Cannons in Tampa Bay. The game was hotly contested the entire time and in a game that close the smallest edge made the difference
The Game started out pretty back and forth with Tampa Bay grabbing the first goal, Hustle tying it up with a break of their own off an errant Hammer The game was tied at 4s with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Tampa was able to set up a jump ball in the endzone. After multiple tips, Tampa comes down with it to take the lead 4-5.
Out of the quarter break Atlanta set their zone called Grits. Taylor Minch got a huge layout D setting up a break opportunity, but the Hustle turned it after working it to the red zone. Tampa scored on their second chance to open up a lead at 4-6. Over the next few points both teams threw a mixture of defenses, but both offenses held. At 8-9 Hustle threw zone again and this time found success. Tampa swings 12 times gaining no yards, and when they do try to strike upfield they miscommunicate and turn it over. Atlanta uses 5 straight breakside continues to score and tie it up 9-9. Tampa notched another hold and the Hustle are not able to match them before time expires in the half.
Hustle started the 2nd half on offense with a chance to even the score. The Cannons strike instead with back to back breaks to extend their lead to 12-9. Patient offense by the Hustle stops the bleeding then the Hustle decided they wanted those breaks back. ATL got one after a stop in the red zone and tacked on a 2nd when Kelvin Williams tracked down a counter strike huck. 12-12. Hustle and Tampa alternate holds until 14-14 when Tampa is receiving for the potential last possession with :48s on the clock. They worked it some but stalled out at mid field and had to heave a hammer to the endzone at the last second. Tampa came down with their second buzzer beater of the game to retake the lead, 15-14 in heart breaking fashion.
The Hustle, playing with a sense of urgency, get a big break to start the quarter, 15-15. On the next few points the Hustle play inspired defense and come very close to breaking the Cannons several times but Tampa Bay keeps surviving. At 16-17, ATL's offense misfires on a pull play and the Cannons break to give themselves some breathing room, 16-18. Atlanta holds but are still down 17-18 with plenty of time on the clock.
On the final point the Hustle generated two turns. The first break chance ended when a huck went wide out of bounds. We get another turn with 21 seconds left. After a few breakside continues, we sent it deep to Matt Smith, but a Tampa Bay defender made an amazing full extension layout to break it up. From there Tampa was able to hold onto possession to run out the clock. The game ended at 17-18.
Zone: There are few teams in the AUDL that have had success with zone. The Hustle is one. Grits got the Hustle 4 of their 5 breaks.
Taylor Minch: Minch had himself a game against the Cannons. Finishing the game at plus 4. His layout D in the zone was great and made it clear that Tampa wasn’t going to get anything for free. He caught three goals to lead the team in addition to his one assist and two secondary assists.
Reset Defense: There were too many times where Tampa could swing for free.
Execution errors: The Hustle had a lot of throws, short and long, that they wish they had back. Those unforced errors gave the Cannons all the chances they needed to win.
End of quarter situations: Tampa completed both of their buzzer beater attempts against a much taller Atlanta roster.
Taylor Minch: +4, 3G, 1B, 1A
Brett Hulsmeyer: +3, 2G, 2B
Matt Smith: +3, 4A, 1G
Josh Turner: +3, 3A