On Saturday evening the D.C. Breeze will welcome the Ottawa Outlaws to Hotchkiss field for the Breeze’s annual College Night.
Coming into the contest, the Breeze (1-1) are looking to rebound after a disappointing 23-21 overtime loss to the Raleigh Flyers last weekend. Riding a five point lead into the fourth quarter, D.C.’s offense struggled to put away the Flyers in the AUDL’s first ever Cross Coast Challenge game.
It was really 36 minutes of smooth sailing followed by a tough 4th quarter for two of the team’s O-line handlers, and they will need four quarters of solid throws against a solid Outlaws squad. Combined, Jonathan Neeley and Alan Kolick had 13 throwaways that allowed Raleigh to stay in the contest last week. This compares to a combined three turnovers by the same duo against the Toronto Rush in the season opener. The constant pressure and aggression forced many mistakes for the Breeze’s offense, but it will be a new week for the team against Ottawa.
With this being the Outlaws (0-0) season opener, there is not much to gauge the team on for 2017. In back-to-back seasons the team is 14-14 (7-7 each year) and has yet to make the AUDL playoffs. Looking back at the last matchup between these two teams, the Outlaws prevailed 27-22 at home after losing the three games prior.
This season Ottawa will be without three of their top playmakers from 2016, including founding player Karl Loiseu. Their best returner in terms of assists will be Mike Lee who was fourth on the team at 29 along with his team leading 60 goals. In fact, nearly half of the assists from last year’s team left with those top three.
Fortunately the offense primarily goes through Kinley Gee and Derek Alexander as the team’s main handlers. They have one of the top downfield threats in the league in Lee. In 2016, his 60 goals put him second in the AUDL. Running the offense primarily through their top few players, the Outlaws will look to have a quick start to the game but may trail off the longer the contest goes on.
Entering their third year as an organization, Ottawa’s defense has typically been one dictated by athletic prowess. There will be no unrelenting defense like the Breeze saw last week, but there will be some athletes looking to take away the long ball option for D.C. In particular will be Nick Boucher who had 31 blocks last season, leading the team.
Replacing some empty gaps, the team has brought in some out of town talent to supplement their losses. Vancouver native and AUDL veteran Erik Hunter joins the team for what will be his first game with the Outlaws. The team also brought in French National Pierre Lemerle. Both are do-it-all type of players, fitting into any role on a team.
The Breeze will be without AUDL 2nd-Team player Jeff Wodatch for the second straight game. The Breeze will also be missing Neeley, last week’s leading goal scorer, Eric Miner, David Cranston, and Markham Shofner.
One interesting stat to keep in mind: Lloyd Blake is 57 for 57 in his first two AUDL games. With Neeley out of the lineup, expect Blake to get even more touches on the O-line.
A quick start in this contest will be key for the offense to find their grove once again. From there, the defense led by Delrico Johnson, Chuck Cantone, and David Boylan-Kolchin will be able to dictate the play.
Opening pull is scheduled for 6:30 pm. As a reminder it will be College Night, with discounted gate prices and contests for college students. More info here.