Professional Ultimate; Week 1 in Review

Post From TheRyanWest's Sports Writer Erik Stagnetti

Pre-post disclaimer: I’m not a sportswriter and I am more interested in talking about teams and match-ups than summarizing a game because quite frankly if you cared enough about it, you would have watched it.

Also if you have any comments, concerns, etc. that you would like to share please direct yourself to my friend Black Dynamite

 

Connecticut Constitution 29 – Rhode Island Rampage 23:

As a CT Constitution fan and 1 of the 3 Founding Fathers (shout out to Ryan West and Sonny Frazee) of the oldest AUDL supporter group in existence, the NYCT Minute Men, I’m going to mainly concentrate on their half of the game.

*Initially we were told the games would be viewable for 5 days, which would have allowed me time to go back and track the score progression as well as watch the game from more of a “write-up” standpoint before this post, but the stream was down until yesterday. That hasn't left me time to re-watch then write something better (Week 2 is 3 days away).  I’m also going to keep this real short and save everyone an extensive write-up on the offenses being shaky, as it was the first game and every team in the league had those issues (everyone deserves a second chance?).

Week 1 was a game full of the expected unfamiliarity between players and first game nerves combined with an unexpected moderate wind. The difference in this game that resulted in CT’s win was one main thing, simply put: early defensive pressure and intensity.

Anyone who has played club ultimate in the Northeast the past few years will see a few familiar names on CT’s defensive squad: Joe “Smash” Anderson, Isaiah “Izzy” Bryant, Joe “CJ” Ouellette, Chris Mazur and Lucas Murphy. This group came out exactly as you would have expected: fired up and looking to make a statement early.

Joe Oullette led the team with 5 Ds, as the Constitution’s defense was able to open up an early lead that the Rampage never fully recovered from. RI seemed to have no answer for Chris Mazur as he was able to tally up 8 assists in Week 1 – 4 of which were buck tre’s to wide open receivers.

However as stated above there were some definite negatives on the offensive front (both by the offensive line and the defensive line): sloppy travels (which are now a turnover), poor decisions by handlers, etc. As this was the first game, I’ll wait until Week 2 to delve deeper into either team’s offense.

Week 1 Most Valuable Patriot: Chris Mazur - for giving the fans what they want...hammers.

Let’s move on to something I care more about: CT’s Week 2 opponent - the Philadelphia Spinners.

Philadelphia Spinners 26 – Buffalo Hunters 14:

The score, from the perspective of someone who didn’t get to see the game, stirs up a lot of questions. First and foremost: how was Philadelphia only able to score 26 points?

The talk since Day 1 by nearly everyone in the East is that Buffalo will draw the weakest roster. Barring players who travel from afar, all 3 other teams have “power” cities to draw talent from (Philly is self-explanatory, CT has NYC and its suburbs, RI has Boston and its suburbs), while Buffalo is restricted to its home city, Rochester and whomever they can pull down from the Canadian teams (not sure if that was even allowed?).

On the other hand Philadelphia is a big favorite in the East and a close second to Indianapolis in the whole league: the AUDL’s website poll concerning who fans think will win the championship currently has Indianapolis with 229 votes, Philadelphia with 198 and CT trailing significantly with 74 (one can easily argue that Indianapolis is drawing a lot of votes simply based on Brodie Smith). The simple reason for this is that the Philadelphia Spinners are essentially Southpaw with a different name and a few new faces**. That gives them a significant advantage over other teams with regards to not only talent but familiarity with each other, as well as the offensive/defensive mindsets of the coaching staff.

And before someone throws a hissy fit let me clarify – I could care less if an AUDL team is composed primarily of players from a UPA/USA Ultimate open squad. Quite frankly I enjoy it, as it makes for great heckling and intensifies shit talking when a team like that loses a game (see my future article: ‘Philadelphia Spinners’ winning strategy – take a team who couldn’t win a championship in 1 league and just move them to another’).

That being said…I was expecting a team like the Philadelphia Spinners to run up the score against Buffalo. On paper there is a clear argument that this should have happened. Which leaves one to wonder – what went wrong? Their offense is not afforded the same “excuse” for a less than expected performance as the other AUDL teams (not having played together more than a couple of times). From what I have gathered they also should not have suffered from missing an important part of their roster due to the college series, as Detroit seemed to.

It was not the lowest scoring game in the league but it was arguably the most “lop-sided” match up. Philly is not going to find an easier defensive squad on CT: 3 of their main defenders are former PONY players, including defensive captain Joe “Smash” Anderson (who had 5 goals), that have a lot of experience against Southpaw. Defensive handler Chris Mazur was able to make an athletic and talented RI offensive line repeatedly pay for their mistakes with 8 assists (including 4 buck tre’s).

Week 2 Sleeper Pick: Alex Grin – without knowing his role on the Spinners, but from having watched him play from a freshman at RPI up to the AUDL, I’m taking Grin as the guy who catches a lot of teams off guard this season. His athleticism and intensity (as well as that gorgeously hairy physique) are going to give him the tools necessary to guard top-notch receivers who have more open space for cutting on the AUDL’s larger field. And when it gets turned over, those same skills are going to make him a very difficult cutter to stop.

**utilizing my admittedly imperfect research, at least 10 players on the Spinners were on Southpaw’s 2011 squad, with 4-5 more who potentially were or played on the team in the past, which accounts for over half the Spinners’ players. Combine this with the fact that 2 of their coaches held the same positions with Southpaw in 2011 and the 3rd coach is a former player**

 

Submitted by Erik Stagnetti