One point may be a difference maker when this season is all said and done for the DC Breeze.
No, not one point that a player gets injured. Not one point that decided the game, perhaps not even the double overtime point over the New York Empire.
It could very well be one point against the Montreal Royal this past weekend, or back on May 20. As the season is winding down, season series are beginning to be decided, the first tiebreaker between two teams. Currently the Breeze have won the season series over the Toronto Rush, Empire, and Ottawa Outlaws (thanks to their victory this week). The series with the Philadelphia Phoenix is only one the Breeze trails in 0-1, but there are two games remaining among the two squads.
Against Montreal (7-4), the Breeze won a game and lost a game, so it goes to the second tiebreaker: point differential in head-to-head matches. After the 27-23 win for the Royal, the final point differential is +1, Montreal.
Now, in competition it is rather idiotic to hinge a season on one single moment, unless of course it is in the postseason. One point last Saturday, though could have massive ramifications. Right now DC holds the edge in the standings only because the team has played one more game than Montreal. If the two teams have the same record at the end of the season, Montreal has the edge. So even if Toronto falls apart, DC could miss out on that No. 1 seed; if Montreal wins out, DC might fall to third place; if the Empire come roaring back and DC loses out, the Breeze could be out of the playoffs.
The silver lining in all this is that Montréal and Toronto play each other again this season, and that means one of them must lose. And one of them losing means if the Breeze can win out, they will finish in at least 2nd place thanks to two- and three-way tiebreaker rules. To win out, the Breeze must beat Philadelphia home (this Saturday in DC) and away (July 22 in Philadelphia).
At the conclusion of the game on Sunday, Montreal held a 26-23 edge with 5.7 seconds remaining on the clock. At this point the season series was tied 46-46 at a game apiece. A Rowan McDonnell pull that was out-of-bounds, forcing Montreal to get one throw off to run out the clock. That one throw was a three-quarter field huck to the end zone, batted up in the air by Chuck Cantone, and then floated into Mike Voelpel‘s arms. It was another point to the Royal along with the season series advantage. Many in the crowd may have assumed the final throw was a bit unsportsmanlike with the victory already guaranteed, but everyone on the field and sidelines knew exactly how important another point was to either side.
You cannot blame that one point, or any point in particular throughout this game and their other earlier in the year. Recall that when it was 23-20 last month, DC had six throws within 20 yards of their end zone on the final point, and was unable to punch it in. Montreal got the block before time ran out, and were a bad blade away from making it a two point deficit on that day.
Sometimes one point is all it takes, even if the game is out of reach.
Two players were perfect on the weekend in throwing across the two games (with 10+ passes): Marcus Thaw and Troy Holland were 13 for 13. The extremely windy conditions Sunday in Ottawa took a lot of players out of contention.
The Breeze only generated 10 blocks against the Royal, but still managed to earn five breaks. For the Outlaws (2-6) contest, DC had 21 blocks and 16 breaks.
Breeze Top 5 Performers (2 Games Combined):
Max Cassell: 6 goals, 6 assists, 33/39 throws (+5)
-Season plus/minus is +40 (3rd), leads the team in goals (33)
Chuck Cantone: 8 goals, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 20/22 throws (+10)
-Season plus/minus is +42 (2nd), third in goals (26), third in completion percentage among players with 100+ attempts (96%)
David Bloodgood: 4 goals, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 43/46 throws (+4)
-Second on the team in blocks (13)
Jeff Wodatch: 6 goals, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 22/25 throws (+8)
-Second on team in goals (27)
David Cranston: 3 goals, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 17/22 throws (+4)
All that is left for the Breeze is a home-and-away series against the Phoenix (2-8). The first game of the two is in Washington D.C., this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Phoenix have already been eliminated from the playoffs with their loss on Sunday, but the Breeze can clinch their third playoff berth with one win.