The DC Breeze fell to the Toronto Rush Saturday night, 26-20, in a story all too familiar despite the team’s recent success at home against the 4-time division champions. The Breeze are now 0-7 lifetime on the shores of Lake Ontario. Toronto now leads the division at 4-2, while the Breeze are in 2nd at 3-2 and tied for first in the all-important loss column (Complete AUDL Standings).
The Breeze came out of the gate looking strong Saturday, matching Toronto step for step to a 5-4 lead early in the game. But the team quickly succumbed to the effects of 12 hours in the charter bus including 90 minutes stuck in Toronto traffic that cut their regular warmup routine to less than half the norm. After withstanding the early Breeze energy, the Rush ran off 5 straight goals to take the 1st quarter 9-5. The Breeze regrouped to keep the pace through Q2 despite several turnovers on both sides, finishing the half down 14-10. The Breeze would end the half with only 19 players available, as third-year cutter Matt Kerrigan slowly walked off the field late in the 2nd quarter with a shoulder injury, not to return to the game.
The halftime rest and locker room pep talk by head coach Darryl Stanley brought renewed energy to the Breeze despite being short a player. Receiving the disc first to begin the 2nd half, the team executed a nice 15 throw sequence ending with a Justin Solis assist to Jeff Wodatch. Then an Austin Bartenstein block followed by Rowan McDonnell‘s assist to Chuck Cantone in the end zone for the break brought the Breeze to within two with only a couple minutes off the clock in Q3. Toronto regrouped to deliver a hold and break of their own, and the teams eventually split another quarter leaving the deficit at 4 as the clock expired on a Lloyd Blake block. Score 20-16.
At this point the travel seemed to completely catch up with the Breeze. The Rush scored 5 consecutive goals for the 2nd time in the game to open the 4th quarter, and this essentially put the contest out of reach at 25-16. The Breeze could have understandably mailed in the last few minutes, but instead they found the grit and determination to score four of the game’s last five goals in a truly impressive team effort: the four goals were scored by four different players, and four different players delivered the assists.
In the end Wodatch and Alan Kolick had four goals apiece to lead the team. Team goals leader on the season Tyler Monroe was held scoreless yesterday, instead turning to his handling skills for a team leading five assists. After earning 16 blocks when these two teams faced off April 9 in DC and 19 last week against New York, the Breeze defense only earned 5 blocks in Saturday’s game.
The Breeze and Rush are now tied head-to-head on the season, each winning at home. They face each other one more time, June 11 in DC. Prior to that the Breeze have home games May 20 vs Montréal and June 4 vs New York, and away games May 27 at New York and June 3 at Philadelphia.
Results of the Breeze’s seven games in Toronto to date:
2013: Lost 40-16
2014: Lost 27-17, Lost 37-12 (playoffs)
2015: Lost 33-21
2016: Lost 24-23, Lost 23-21 (OT, playoffs)
2017: Lost 26-20
[The Breeze are 2-5 lifetime against the Rush at home]