The Breeze beat the Montréal Royal last night, 23-20, in a hard fought match at Gallaudet University in DC under unseasonably cool conditions. The Breeze are now 4-2 and tied for 1st place with 4-time division champions Toronto Rush, with the Breeze getting the nod on both head-to-head and overall goal differential. The Royal are now 2-4.
Although the teams were only separated by one game in the standings before the game, the outcome was closer than most expected. The Breeze were favored by 3.5 according to audlpicks.com, but 91.4% of Pick ‘Em players had chosen the Breeze to cover the spread, the highest percentage of all AUDL games this week.
Rowan McDonnell was the player of the game with 6 blocks to go with 2 goals, 3 assists and a team leading plus/minus of 8. McDonnell’s 6 blocks doubled the tally of any Breeze player in a single game this season. Rookie and Alexandria native Joe Richards (University of Mary Washington) and 2nd year player Max Cassell (University of Maryland) each scored 4 goals, while Lloyd Blake led the team with 5 assists. Blake has 14 assists on the season for 3rd best on the team, and Richards now has an impressive 6 goals in his first two games as a pro.
The Breeze received the disc first and executed a clean O-Line score, but then cool temperatures and gusty conditions took center stage as both teams’ offenses stumbled through the rest of the opening quarter. Seven turnovers on the 2nd pointed finally resulted in a Breeze break to make it 2-0, then the teams combined for five more turnovers before a 2nd consecutive Breeze break made it 3-nil. Montréal then scored quickly, followed by another marathon 4-turnover point before Jonathan Neeley found Zander Taylor in the end zone to bring the lead to 4-1. McDonnell got his 2nd block of the 1st period (the astonishing 18th turnover combined between the two teams) as time ran out to secure the 4-1 score in one of the lowest scoring quarters in the AUDL this season.
Then it was time for the offenses to shine. Q2 went 10-8 in favor of the Breeze as both offenses got it together in a mirror image performance from the 1st period, and the teams went into the locker rooms with the Breeze leading 14-9.
The Breeze got the disc to start the 2nd half and marched downfield for a six goal lead before giving up two straight. The Royal outplayed the Breeze in the third, getting three breaks to one to pull within three at 18-15.
Starting Q4 with the disc in hand, the Royal offense scored to make it a 2-point game. Tyler Monroe found Cassell to answer back, and Cassell assisted Jeff Wodatch after another Royal score to make it 20-17. Two consecutive breaks thanks to Royal throwaways made it 22-17 to essentially seal the game, and the Breeze held on despite giving up another break to close out the game 23-20.
Veteran Nate Castine returned from a season long injury to play in 15 points (9 D, 6 O) and was effective with 12 completions in 13 attempts, 100% catching percentage, 9 for 9 inbounds pulls with a 7.4 second average hang time, and a block.
The Royal play in New York Sunday in the 2nd game of their back-to-back weekend. The Breeze head to New York next Saturday May 27 for a rematch of their 22-21 victory over the Empire earlier this month, and they will face New York again at home June 4 after traveling back up I-95 to Philadelphia for a Saturday evening game June 3.
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