The 2017 season is almost over. There is only one game separating the DC Breeze from the end of the regular season. Fortunately for the Breeze, there will at least be two more games with a playoff berth clinched this past weekend. In that victory, DC maintained consistency that has led them to their 9-4 record at this point season: offensive dominance and constant defensive pressure.
Only twice did the offensive line get broken. In addition, there were only seven turnovers on points when DC received the pull. Both the traditional O-line and the top defensive unit played on offensive points. As a team, completion percentage was 95 percent on the day. On defense the pressure was spread out. Alternating between man-on-man matchups and their new 2-3-2 style of zone, DC confused the Philadelphia Phoenix with different defensive looks all evening.
For the most part, the offensive line remained the same throughout the day with Matt Kerrigan being alternated in to give the starting three handlers rest. Kerrigan, a Georgetown alum, has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the last half of the season. Seeing limited action in his second game back, he had one assist on 12/14 throwing in 13 points.
The three starting offensive handlers collectively had only two throwaways (100/102) and only two drops. The team did not commit their first offensive turnover until midway through the 2nd period.
DC controlled the contest all the way to the final 25-17 advantage, and every player was able to see considerable playing time on the field. Time on the field ranged from 13 points to 19, capped by Alan Kolick.
Goals were evenly distributed with Max Cassell coming down with four scores and Joe Freund three. On the defensive side, Brian Marshall and Delrico Johnson added three apiece. A total of 14 of the 20 active players found the end zone on Saturday.
Five players made the perfect throwing category (10+ attempts). Leading the way, and no surprise, was Nathan Prior at 37 for 37. Three more O-line players joined him: Kolick (29/29), Alexander Taylor (24/24), and Joe Freund (14/14). The one defensive player to make that list was Austin Bartenstein (12/12).
With 18 blocks spread out among 12 different players, DC capitalized on 11 breaks.
Breeze Top 5 Performers:
Max Cassell: 4 goals, 2 assists, 19/21 throws (+4)
-Season plus/minus is +44 (T-1st), leads the team in goals (37)
Joe Freund: 3 goals, 3 assists, 14/14 throws (+6)
-O-line efficiency is 58% (T-1st)
Delrico Johnson: 3 goals, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 9/10 throws (+6)
-Second on the team in blocks (15)
Alan Kolick: 1 goal, 2 assists, 1 block, 29/29 throws (+3)
-Third on the team in assists (26)
David Bloodgood: 1 goal, 4 assists, 1 block, 26/29 throws (+2)
-Third on the team in blocks (14), played in all 13 games
DC is the first East Division team with a spot clinched for the 2017 AUDL playoffs. They join the Minnesota Wind Chill (8-1), Madison Radicals (9-2), Raleigh Flyers (11-1), Dallas Roughnecks (12-2), and Jacksonville Cannons (7-4) as teams already booked for the postseason. The Montreal Royal (7-4) can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the New York Empire (4-5) this weekend.
The Breeze have three consecutive bye weeks before finishing the regular season at Philadelphia July 22. Meanwhile, Philadelphia moved to 3-9 after a 22-14 home victory over the Ottawa Outlaws on Sunday. For the first time all season, the Phoenix are now out of the basement in the East.