May 9, 2023
By Evan Lepler
- Boston loves openers
I’m wary about getting too optimistic regarding the Boston Glory, who are now 3-0 in season openers but 7-15 in all other games, but Saturday’s steamrolling over the Toronto Rush was as decisive a result as the third-year franchise has ever had.
It came, admittedly, against a fatigued Toronto team that was outscored 49-25 this past weekend, however the Glory are hoping they establish a more consistent product in 2023. “Confidence is high, but we are treading lightly,” said Boston’s Brendan McCann. “Philly is going to be a great measure of where we stand.” McCann and Chris Bartoli both finished plus-eight playing D-line against the Rush, with Bartoli creating five of Boston’s 17 blocks, the most the Glory have ever had in a single game. Offensively, Boston was only broken once, though the Rush had 10 other break chances that they couldn’t cash in on. Ben Sadok produced 589 yards of offense, nearly 200 more than anyone else in the game, along with three assists. “We have a much higher ceiling that years past,” said McCann.
- Strong Empire
Between Friday and Saturday, Toronto failed to win a single quarter against the Empire and the Glory. On Friday night in New Rochelle, the two teams were tied 1-1 through six sloppy minutes in the opening period, but New York outscored Toronto 7-2 over the next 12 minutes to create more than enough separation.
The Rush’s only break came with 4:23 left in the second to bring Toronto back within three, but another 6-1 spurt from the Empire left the Rush in the dust. “Toronto made it easy for us in many ways, giving us the disc without having to work that hard for it,” said New York’s Ben Jagt. “We were 12-for-21 on break chances, so a little sloppier than we’d like as far as D-line offense. We’ll definitely be looking to clean that up this weekend.” Despite their desire to be even more efficient, the Empire’s D-line has converted 23 breaks in 43 chances (53.3 percent) across their first two games of the season. “Going up against the best offense in the league every week [at practice] helps, and having to cover Jack [Williams] at practice makes it feel like a relief to get to the games and have anyone else to cover,” said New York’s Ryan Drost. After two lopsided home wins, the Empire now carry a 17-game winning streak into Saturday’s trip to DC, the city where New York last lost.
- Another DC-Philly game down to the wire
For their third straight regular season matchup, DC escaped against Philly with a narrow, uncomfortable one goal win. “Another one point loss to DC,” said Phoenix Captain Sean Mott, via the team’s Instagream.
“Seems to be a theme.” The Breeze led by five in the first half before their offense experienced uncharacteristic sloppiness. DC finished with a hold rate under 50 percent for just the 11th time in 118 games across the franchise’s history; this was only the second time the Breeze won despite that scale of struggle, joining a 14-13 win over New York from July of 2014. Philadelphia recorded nine breaks, but the Phoenix O-line could not find consistency either, and they were broken 11 times by the Breeze. It was the first time ever that Philly registered more than seven breaks and still lost the game. Greg Martin scored five goals, including a thrilling layout Callahan, to lead the Phoenix, while Moussa Dia and Alexandre Fall each scored four goals from the Breeze’s D-line. Rowan McDonnell fished six assists while playing a team-high 25 points, while Mott played 26 points and totaled 594 yards of offense, though it was all for nought. “I think we’ll have another heated battle against [the Breeze] in Philly,” said Mott.
- Austin demolishes Dallas
Considering that Dallas used to absolutely own Austin, it was absolutely staggering to see the halftime score of their 26th all-time meeting this past Saturday night. The Sol led the Legion 19-3 through two quarters. That’s no typo. Nineteen to three! “19-3 is quite unusual, indeed,” said Austin’s Kyle Henke. “Most of the opportunities for breaks were handed to us, but I’m super proud of the way our D-lines pushed those in at a high conversion rate.”
Dallas looked a whole lot more like an AUDL team in the second half, where they actually outscored Austin 14-12, but the Sol’s 31-17 victory was still its largest ever margin of victory against their long-time Texas rival. “As we went into this game, I personally believe we were both prepared mentally and physically,” said Dallas’ Connor DeLuna. “This preseason has been nothing but consistency, commitment, and hard work from the entire team and something that myself and leadership have been pushing. From that perspective, we were prepared. However, the first half of the game was pretty defeating and not the type of ultimate I have been consistently seeing every week from the team. I would like to blame this first half on first-game jitters because we had about a third of our team making their debut AUDL start.” The Legion will look to bounce back in their first ever meeting against the Houston Havoc this coming weekend.
- 400th career assist for Pawel Janas
After registering 396 assists in 69 career games in Chicago, Pawel Janas became the first player in AUDL history to reach 400 assists in his Los Angeles Aviators debut on Saturday night. He tossed a pair of scores in the game’s opening eight minutes, helping LA build an early 5-1 lead. But Janas only dished two others in the game’s final 40 minutes, as the Summit poured cold water on the Aviators’ sizzling preseason hype.
“Colorado was able to execute and make big plays when it mattered,” said LA’s Sean McDougall, who caught two of Janas’s scoring throws and finished a game-high plus-seven. “I think that was probably the biggest thing and turning point; we didn’t execute.” The next person to reach 400 career assists will probably be either Colorado’s Jonathan Nethercutt, who recorded 15 assists in the Summit’s SoCal sweep this past weekend, or Montreal’s Kevin Quinlan. Nethercutt, sixth all-time in assists, is 82 away from 400, while Quinlan, fourth all-time in assists, is just 48 shy. If both keep their current pace—Nethercutt’s averaged 5.4 assists per game in his career compared to Quinlan’s 3.2—they’re each somewhere around 15 games away from reaching the 400 assist plateau.
Drost Bros. block party
Mike Drost joined the AUDL in 2013 and tallied 46 blocks that season, most in the league. His twin-brother, Ryan, made his pro ultimate debut in 2014 and immediately delivered 31, though Mike had 34 more than year. But Ryan, despite being 49 blocks behind Mike heading into 2015 has gradually inched closer to his bro. On Friday night against Toronto, Ryan registered four blocks against the Rush, giving him 188 in his career, second most in AUDL history. Mike’s league record currently sits at 192. “I’m definitely aware of it,” said Ryan. “I think it’s really cool that Mike and I are #1 and #2. I don’t really care about passing him, but we do keep tabs on it, and I’m always happy to get more blocks, of course.” Combined, the Drosts 380 career blocks are 252 more than the next best pair of brothers on the block chart. The Larbergs, Chris and Dillon, have combined for 128.
During the preseason, I speculated that the number of Callahans might double this season. So far, we’re right on pace. A year ago, there were 18 Callahans in 161 games. That’s one for every 8.94 games. With three this past weekend and four through our first 17 games in 2023, we’re seeing one Callahan for every 4.25 games. If this pace holds, we’ll see right around 36 Callahans this season, including the playoffs. Seattle’s Khalif El-Salaam snagged the first Callahan the season in Week 1, while Atlanta’s Bradley Fleming, Boston’s Rocco Linehan, and Philadelphia’s Greg Martin recorded Callahans this past weekend.
Players do all sorts of different things to psyche themselves up for a game, but I’d never heard of a pregame manicure.
Until this past Saturday.
Strolling the sidelines prior to our Game of the Week telecast, I noticed Matt Jackson’s intricate nails as Colorado was warming up in Los Angeles.
“Me and Quinn [Finer] have a new ritual before road trips or tournaments,” said Jackson. “We go to the nail bar and get a mani. We get a manicure and usually some nail art, and it reflects whatever jersey color we’re wearing that weekend.”
Indeed, Jackson’s nails were primarily maroon with tiny blueish flames adorning each finger.
It’s just flames and pure intensity,” said Jackson. “That’s what you get from me and Quinn.”
Gives a whole new meaning to tough as nails.