August 24, 2022
By Adam Ruffner
2022 AUDL Championship Weekend is just two days away! And with an exceptional schedule of semifinal matchups, as well as Saturday night's title game, the biggest showcase of the summer has more reasons to tune in than ever.
Breese Stevens Field
Just blocks away from the capitol building in downtown Madison, there isn’t a frisbee venue quite like Breese Stevens Field. The two previous times the stadium hosted AUDL Championship Weekend—in 2016 and 2018—the events featured some of the biggest crowds, best moments, and most thrilling games in league history; not to mention the inaugural All-Star Game going into sudden death double overtime in 2019. And with a thriving ultimate community and a premier location on the isthmus, local fans are already buzzing about this year’s talented field of competition.
There is not a bad seat in the house, either. Whether you’re posted in the endzone beer garden, or perched in the stands with the rest of the crowd, Breese Stevens offers great sightlines on the game with an often very vocal audience—there’s a reason why Madison dubbed itself the “Capital City of Ultimate”.
Winningest Championship Weekend Ever
The Carolina Flyers, Chicago Union, Colorado Summit, and New York Empire compose the most impressive lineup of final four contenders ever, with just three losses among the four division champions; New York and Carolina are also the two most recent AUDL champions, with the Empire going for their second undefeated season in three years. There have been very few upsets up until this point in the 2022 season, which has setup a diabolical bracket of superpowered squads, with each team laying a legit claim that they could be this year’s champion.
The Empire might be having the best season ever, have the highest offensive efficiency in AUDL history, and start the two-time reigning MVP (Ben Jagt) as well as the favorite for this year’s award (Ryan Osgar). Carolina are the defending champs with the most balanced rotation in the league, with their lone loss this season coming in the final minute of regulation on the road. Chicago is making their second straight Championship Weekend appearance, with all-time assists leader Pawel Janas and company looking for redemption after falling by a single goal to the Flyers in last year’s semifinals. And then there’s the expansion Summit where former MVP Jonathan Nethercutt leads the most dominant deep attack in the league, and is surrounded by playmaking stars like Jay Froude and Danny Landesman.
It’s a stacked three-game slate, is what I’m trying to say.
World Class Throwers
Nethercutt under the lights alone is worth the price of admission, as he’s not only led the league in huck completions in his first season with the Summit, but he’s also been known to have himself a game at Breese Stevens. And really, he’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Janas has been a prototypical QB1 for Chicago since joining the team in 2017, and took just five seasons to set the league record for total assists, accomplishing the feat last Sunday in a six-assist performance in the division final. But for all of his statistical accomplishments, the Union’s legendary passer is focused on nothing short of a title, and will be using his full powers this weekend.
Osgar is coming off of perhaps the most efficient and dangerous passing regular season in history, missing on just one huck in 12 games while finishing second in the league in assists and throwing for nearly 3,000 yards. Often described as a painter with the disc, Osgar’s vision and variance with continuation throws is second to none, and when he’s at peak performance, New York’s offense is virtually unstoppable; nevermind Jack Williams anchoring the Empire offensive attack as the most talented and clutch player on the field this weekend.
And Carolina’s backfield duo of Sol Yanuck and Matt Gouchoe-Hanas has been the most reliable unit in the league the past two seasons, a perfect amalgam of potency and possession. The two set the table for most of the Flyers’ action, and their ability to read-and-react to defensive pressure keeps Carolina seemingly always in rhythm. Eric Taylor leads the team in assists this season, and even while starting as a matchup defender last weekend, the third-year star unleashed some wicked passes in the counterattack.
Carolina vs New York: Round 4
Even though Friday will mark just the fourth meeting between these two storied franchises, the first three chapters have already solidified this matchup as the premier powerhouse battle in the league. New York won the first two games in double overtime during the regular season in 2019 and 2021, but the Flyers got the ultimate revenge by beating the Empire in the 2021 AUDL Championship Game. And both teams enter their semifinal with the highest stakes possible: Carolina is defending their throne, while New York is going for the perfect season.
“Everyone else is chasing a championship,” Empire Co-Owner Paul Stevens told Evan Lepler in this week’s Tuesday Toss following the team’s second straight East Division title. "We’re chasing history. Two 15-0 seasons. I like to be chasing history.”
AUDL Legends Going For First Title
And while New York and Carolina are looking to upgrade their collective hardware counts, there are a slew of star veterans on Colorado and Chicago still hunting for their first AUDL championship. Janas, Nethercutt, and Froude all rank among the all-time greats in statistical production, and all have had all-star performances in the playoffs, including at past Championship Weekend events; Froude was a menace the last time he played in Madison in 2018, and Janas had eight assists in last year’s semifinals. Yet none of the three have won a title at the pro level, and all enter this year’s gauntlet with their best teams to date.
2022 AUDL Championship Weekend watch schedule
Saturday, August 27
2022 AUDL Championship Game - 8:00 PM/ET - FS2 FOX Sports
Tickets are available online, and at the gates.
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