AUDL Throwaround: Flyer, Empire Backup Hype; Shred Start Strong
The season debut wraps up week 1.
May 5, 2022 from Alex Ruby and Theo Wan in recap with comments
Our coverage of the 2022 AUDL season is presented by VII Apparel Co., offering premium performance apparel for the active world with their proprietary GreenLine fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
The AUDL season kicked off with a busy weekend marked by key divisional showdowns. Carolina and New York impressed in beating their division’s supposed top contenders, while the wild Wild West remains a guessing game.
Welcome to the AUDL Throwaround, where we cover the top stories, players and highlights from the league.
AUDL Weekly Fantasy: Week 2
Results & Tables
Scoreboard week 1
Table of the week 1
Stories from week 1
Carolina picks up where it left off
A picture-perfect 2021 season began with a loss to the Atlanta Hustle. When the Carolina Flyers celebrated last season’s championship, they also retaliated by defeating the Hustle in a low-key, defensive affair. Carolina quickly attacked the vaunted hustle zone, throwing hammers and blades whenever they saw an open spot to hit. Repeated attempts to move the disc to weak spots in Hustle defense stretched the zone and allowed Carolina’s offense to move smoothly.
Anders Juengst did what he does best: find the end zone. He even did that in defence a layout Callahan in the third quarter to take the Flyers to 10-8.1
On defense, Carolina’s handlers choked defenders, barely released Austin Taylor (and apparently forced a handful of trips), held him for 266 throwing yards, and forced three throwaways. Although Atlanta’s offense had respectable numbers, they had to work every inch they managed to put the disc forward. If there’s still any doubt as to who the best team in the South is, consider the Flyers division a loser for now.
Salt Lake shatters all doubts
Few West Coast teams manage to win a game in San Diego. Fewer also manage to win both games of a road trip. And yet, Salt Lake Shred did so in the team’s very first games, kicking off their season with victories over the San Diego Growlers and Los Angeles Aviators. As the Growlers dusted off the cobwebs of the 2021 season, Jordan Kerr, Joe Merrill, Joel Clutton and co. ran all over the field, showing their signature athleticism and love of the game. Chad Yorgason had an impressive chase against Sean McDougall to illustrate the Shred team’s overall speed and tenacity.
San Diego had hoped that the shreds’ newness to the AUDL and the Growlers’ understanding of the ins and outs of the league would work in their favor, but Salt Lake never relented. After failing to escape a sideline trap double team on the first point of the game, Salt Lake relentlessly attacked a sluggish San Diego defense and maintained their focus and drive throughout the game.
San Diego looks like a team that’s received a much-needed wake-up call. After rolling through the West in 2021, defending their divisional crown will require greater effort this year. Luckily, All-Star signing Sean McDougall fitted seamlessly into the Growlers’ offense, putting up 440 total yards and a +10 team lead. Look to San Diego to make some connections between him and perennial MVP candidate Travis Dunn to boost their offense.
After the buzzer sounded for their inaugural victory, the entire Shred team and many traveling fans stormed the field, their joy and excitement for all to see. If you’re a neutral fan looking for a team to cheer for, you could do a lot worse than Salt Lake.
New York Tip of the East, DC not far behind
The New York Empire continued the momentum of their 2021 season, defeating the DC Breeze and re-establishing themselves as the team to beat in the East. New York was very efficient on offense, converting 17 of 21 offensive points for an 80% clip and not giving up revenue through the end of the second quarter. The usual suspects on offense including Elliott Chartock, Ben Jagt, Ryan Osgar and Jack Williams were dangerous all night and showed they could be almost unstoppable against other Eastern contenders. Antoine Davis’ debut for Empire was highly anticipated and he fitted seamlessly into the defensive line. He earned a block and then threw his first assist for New York to give them their first break of the game. With Jeff Babbitt and Davis on defense, other teams would be best placed not to test the Air when playing the Empire. As a team, New York was able to pull off two turnovers after setting a suffocating double-team trap after an out-of-bounds pull on the sideline and showed they had a strength on either side of the disc are.
Despite the three-goal loss, the Breeze aren’t far behind in claiming top of the class. DC welcomed back Alan Kolick, who had his first AUDL appearance in five years but most of all missed Jonny Malks. Despite falling behind in the third quarter, the Breeze didn’t go into the night calmly, fighting back in the fourth and bringing them to ones several times. Christian Boxley grabbed a Callahan to grab the Breeze, which was one of many such plays in the first week. Multiple turnovers on offense in the fourth tournament brought DC that night, but expect this team to correct those mistakes and remain a playoff favorite in the East through the end of the season.
Everyone in the East wants a piece
Speaking of the East Division, if week one is any indication, there are fewer splits between teams than last year. First, the Montreal Royal went to Toronto and took care of the business. Despite missing a few key players for them, including Sacha Poitte-Sokolsky, Quentin Bonnaud and Vincent Lemieux, the Royals showed their depth by introducing new pieces to their offensive line and being just as deadly. Montreal dismembered the Toronto defense with over-the-top and sharp throws while converting 10/12 break chances. The Toronto Rush are rebuilding in 2022, but a seven-point win is still impressive for the Royals, who are vying to be the third-best team in the East Division. Their first test against American competition since 2019 comes on Saturday when the Royals host the Boston Glory in a Saturday noon matchup. A win there would cement Montreal’s position on the east ladder.
Across the border in Boston, the Glory took on the Philadelphia Phoenix, edging Philadelphia 25-24. Both teams relied on their big names to get the job done on Saturday night. Sean Mott sliced through Boston’s defense with precision throws and the Glory seemed to have no answer to Brice Dunn’s downfield. For Boston, when they needed a bailout, they looked to Orion Cable Deep, whose imposing presence took over the air in the second half. Several times Philadelphia had a body on the cable but it proved too little resistance as he would snatch four goals. That game was one of the most exciting of the weekend, with neither team able to gain a two-point lead until the Phoenix were able to pause late in the second quarter. The first two quarters ended with Philadelphia Buzzer Beaters in deep shots while Boston went on a break of their own with little time remaining in the third. A stoppage in Boston early in the fourth tournament proved crucial as teams traded points for the remainder of the competition.
Philadelphia, a team that finished 3-9 in the Atlantic Division last season, must be feeling good about their chances in the East Division after winning point by point with the Glory in Boston. Both teams have laid claim to being the third-best team in the East, but there are two Canadian teams that could say something about that.
Ottawa was idle for the first week and will look to make a statement on Friday when they take on the Boston Glory for the home game, while Philadelphia doesn’t get a break in the stacked East Division as they travel to New York to compete on the Imperium. Perhaps the pecking order in the East will take shape after the second week.
highlights of the week
You’ve probably already seen the Hustle’s Matt Smith at SportsCenter #1, but was that your team’s best game? Some may prefer this Khalif El-Salaam heaven, with the added narrative boost of being a high-profile newcomer in his first game.
TAGGED: American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), AUDL Canada Cup, AUDL Central, AUDL East, AUDL West, AUDL Throwaround, Presented by VII Apparel
TEAMS: Boston glory, Carolina Flyer, DC Breeze, Montreal Royal, New York Empire, Salt Lake shred, San Diego growler