After a perfect regular season, the Dallas Roughnecks won the AUDL Championship with a 33-27 victory over the Seattle Cascades. On August 6, the ultimate teams from Dallas, Toronto, Madison and Seattle competed in the AUDL Championship weekend at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, Wisconsin.
“This weekend was the very embodiment of the vision many of us have had since the beginning. This was the convergence of extremely high level ultimate, sit on the edge of your seat excitement, a game that came down to the last play, and played before huge raucous crowds. The excitement was palpable and the whole event was everything we’ve envisioned and have been working towards. This sets the bar for how we want all of our games to be experienced and we’re excited to move forward with that as our goal. I can’t wait for next season!”
— AUDL Commissioner Steve Gordon, 9-Aug 2016
During the semi-final rounds, Dallas beat the Toronto Rush with a final score of 27-20. Going into the game, Dallas was clearly favored to win, according to Ultiworld’s Preston Thompson in Ultiworld’s preview podcast. Dallas took an early lead that remained for the entirety of the game, which gave Dallas the win to move on to the championship final.
While Toronto’s loss was predicted, The DC Breeze’s Brad Scott who attended the championships said he didn’t expect the loss come so soon in the game. “They are an extremely talented group of guys that I thought would have put up more of a fight,” Scott said. Scott said the team started the game soft and scared. “I very seldom saw any of them play at their full potential like they’ve been seen to do throughout the regular season,” he said.
According to Scott, the fact that they traveled to the tournament by bus could have influenced their quick downfall. “Toronto was the only team that bused in,” he said. “That has a huge effect.”
The second game of the semi-final rounds was expected to be a toss-up, according Ultiworld’s Nathan Jessen in the preview podcast, but ended in an upset win by Seattle who took the lead with 38 seconds left in the game. Although Madison had the crowd on its side, Seattle came back from a 20-13 deficit to beat the Madison Radicals and advance to the championship final.
Madison held the lead for the first half and Seattle’s significant comeback didn’t come until the third quarter when Seattle got its first break of the game. Scott said the upset was shocking and heartbreaking. “You have to give it to Seattle, they never stopped fighting and took advantage of Madison’s complacency in the second half,” Scott said.
Scott also praised Madison for their use of the Integrity Rule on a bad stall out call in the fourth quarter.
A huge play of the game came from Donnie Clark when he denied the potential game tying point with a full extension high bid, according to Scott, which he described as unbelievable. “It was likely one of his all-time best plays he’s ever and will ever make,” Scott said.
Although Seattle was able to pull out a comeback win during the semi-finals, they were not able to keep up with Dallas during the final game. Seattle came out with a quick lead and forced Dallas into one of its largest deficits of the year, with a 6-3 score in the first quarter. “Seattle rode their high from the night before for the first quarter, which was an unexpected excitement,” Scott said.
However, Seattle just didn’t have the depth to compete, according to Scott. Scott said Dallas’ Dylan Freechild helped break down Seattle and spur Dallas’ comeback.
Scott pointed out Mario O’Brian, Nick Stuart and Matt Rehder as key players for Seattle. “Seattle was hot when O’Brian, Stuart and Rehder were hot,” Scott said.
In the end, Scott says the outcome of the tournament was to be expected, aside from the Madison upset. “When you can outspend every other team in the League, you’re going to get the top talent,” Scott said. “It’s too bad for a team like Madison who is nearly entirely local and has built their success on years of dedication to their system and team chemistry.”
Overall, Scott said he was extremely impressed with the weekend and commended Madison Radicals Owner and Head Coach Tim DeByl. “I’ve never seen so many fans at an ultimate event,” Scott said. “Everyone was having such a blast. The food was yummy, the side entertainment was fun, the facilities were clan and orderly. You couldn’t ask for better.”