May 31, 2018
By Louis Zatzman
It’s rematch season in the AUDL. The Toronto Rush won’t have another regular season game against a team that they haven’t already played. Rematches generally make for higher-quality disc, as coaches and players have a game’s worth of film to use in preparation. Schemes and tactics that didn’t work in the first game need to be adapted, and new approaches can be attempted on the field.
This Saturday, the Rush will play the Montreal Royal in Quebec City. One of the contributing factors to the change in location is that the Royal have a number of players who live in Quebec City. This game makes attendance for friends and family much easier, along with reaching a somewhat new market of Ultimate fans. Montreal has one of the most loyal, passionate fan bases in the league, so expect droves to attend, no matter where the team plays in Quebec.
Last time around, Yoland Cabot paced the Royal with five assists. Captain Kevin Quinlan threw two assists and caught a goal. Perhaps the most impressive Royal of the game was Malik Auger-Semmar, who caught three goals and threw three assists. He is always a big presence – standing 6’2” – who usually plays on the defensive line, but he played offence against Toronto and capitalized on the increased touches.
For Toronto, the return of Jason Huynh – playing his first game of the season – was a huge boost. He plays as a D-Line handler, but he offers dramatically different skills to those already at the position. Jaret Meron is a gunslinger, happiest bombing out 70-yard hucks. Jeremy Norden is a squirrelly handler, always calm and setting up the right throw with a variety of fakes. Huynh is a speedster, with the disc usually leaving his hands before defenders even realize he caught it. He cuts quickly and decisively, and his skill in tight spaces is an important reset option for the Rush D-Line offence.
Including that first game, Huynh has compiled seven assists, seven goals, and three blocks – all impressive numbers in four games played with the D-Line.
One important difference will be the return of French cutting terror, Quentin Bonnaud, to the lineup. Bonnaud is an all-around player, who like Cam Harris is as comfortable coming under to dish out throws as he is striking deep and catching hucks sent his way. On the season, the Royal are 2-0 in games in which Bonnaud has played fully, and 1-3 when he doesn’t play, or hardly plays. D.C coach Darryl Stanley considers Bonnaud to be one of the top-7 players in the East. Toronto’s defence will have its work cut out for it.
As always, Toronto will have a stable of defenders ready for the challenge. Marijo Zlatic will receive frequent tests on Bonnaud. Morgan Hibbert is always a challenge with his combination of size and skill, and Jonathan Edwards looks to be a good option there. If Isaiah Masek-Kelly plays with the defence at all, he will also see time on both players. Though Montreal’s offensive handler-core of Quinlan, Steve Bonneau, and Miguel Goderre is hyper skilled, Bretton Tan, Meron, Norden, and Huynh should be up to the task as handler defenders.
Toronto’s offence will play the same way as they have all season (and the many seasons beforehand). Montreal’s horde of rangy, athletic defenders forced some uncharacteristic turnovers from Toronto’s offence last time they met, especially in the fourth quarter. Andre Arsenault and Gabriel Monfette made some timely defensive plays, but Toronto is confident they won’t slip up again.
Thomson McKnight and Connor Armstrong are the main offensive handlers, with Adrian Yearwood getting important minutes there as well. Though Cam Harris traditionally plays as the initiation cutter, Andrew Carroll has added to his responsibility in that role as well. Defenders back him so much that Carroll can move an offence forward single-handedly with his unders. He threw more than twenty passes against the Philadelphia Phoenix, as coach Raina frequently had Carroll cutting under as the first player out of the stack.
Though the Rush play a bevy of all-world deep cutters, including a return from the thrilling Ben Burelle, Ben Oort has separated himself as one of the team’s most dynamic options. The eighteen-year-old rookie nicknamed Groot – named so both because he’s tall and skinny, like the Guardians of the Galaxy character, and because his beloved club team is pronounced the same way – leads the team in goals, with twenty. He only caught one goal against Montreal last time around, but has added six against D.C, two against Ottawa, and seven against Philadelphia since then.
To help set prepare for the game, Kevin Quinlan, the offensive handler and captain of the Royal, was generous to take time and speak with me.
Louis Zatzman: After Toronto hosted a home game in Waterloo last weekend, this time Montreal will take the lead by moving to Quebec City. Why the new venue? Do you expect the same engagement and attendance from Quebec City that the Royal can count on from Montreal?
Kevin Quinlan: We are doing a game in Quebec to give back to an awesome community that has been so supportive of the Royal. We have a handful of guys who make the 3-hour trip to Montreal twice a week for practices and games, and this is a great opportunity for them to play in front of a crowd that they grew up playing with. It's going to be pretty special.
Louis: Beating D.C again must have felt good, especially because Quentin's back. Does that mean all the problems are solved for the team?
Kevin: It was a great feeling but I believe we are just starting to tap into something. Quentin has great speed and length. He is super gifted on both sides of the ball. His ability to close on a disc is something I haven't really seen from other players. He really is an exciting player to watch, and the best part is he does it with such ease! Regardless, no, not everything is solved, but we are moving in the right direction.
Louis: Cam and Morgan are moving around a lot, rotation-wise. After playing most of the year on the offence, Cam has played on defence against Toronto and D.C. Hibbert seems to be splitting time with both lines. What's the reason, and where are they most comfortable?
Kevin: A lot of the rotating lines has been an adjustment for missing players due to injuries. Cam and Morgan are great players and are willing to perform in whatever role they are given.
Louis: Toronto edged you last time around, and some of results must be attributed to a few unforced errors from your side that Toronto just didn't make. What's the plan to make this game different?
Kevin: We have put a lot of focus on playing as a unit. Being the pass before the score. Trust doesn't just happen. It is something that slowly is earned. I am pretty happy with how we played them last time. We are only getting better as a team, and it is sure to be a battle.
Montreal (6 games played)
|Assist Leaders:||Goal Leaders:||Block Leaders:|
|Yoland Cabot – 17
Steve Bonneau – 16
Francis Vallee – 19
|Andre Arsenault – 8
Morgan Hibbert – 7
Miguel Goderre – 7
Toronto (7 games played)
|Assist Leaders:||Goal Leaders:||Block Leaders:|
Andrew Carroll – 15
|Ben Oort – 20
Ben Burelle – 15
|Isaiah Masek-Kelly – 11
Bomber Powel – 9
The Line: Tor (-3.5) vs Mon (+3.5), per AUDL pick em