In the final game of the 2017 regular season for the DC Breeze, mid-season addition Joe Freund shined brightly. Leading the team with four goals and matching the team-high of three assists, Freund was was the key element of the Breeze’s 23-20 win over the Philadelphia Phoenix.
Like many road games this season, the team was missing some vital pieces on both the O-line and D-line. Offensively the team was without team goals leader Max Cassell, handler Nathan Prior, and hybrid Jonathan Neeley. On the defensive side, the team was again without David Cranston and Markham Shofner. But of all the in-actives the most surprising was Chuck Cantone, who had not missed a game in his two full Breeze seasons — 29 straight games in all.
Despite all the missing parts, this game was one of the cleanest the team has played all season. There were only 15 turnovers, and only nine of them were throwaways. The team registered a 97 passing percentage, with catching a tick higher at 98 percent. The three offensive handlers, Alan Kolick, Lloyd Blake, and Zach Norrbom were a perfect 96/96 throughout the day.
Somehow despite the handlers rolling along beautifully, the Phoenix were able to break the Breeze five times. DC managed seven breaks against the Philadelphia O-line.
With a few players missing, Norrbom was called up for only his third game of the year. He managed a perfect throwing day (28/28) while doubling his goal count with two and also getting an assist. With a 73 percent offensive efficiency rate, Norrbom had the highest mark of all Breeze players. He ends the regular season with a perfect throwing mark (75/75), one of six players to do so but with the highest number of completions.
Joining the University of Mary Washington player on the O-line was defensive star Rowan McDonnell. Two thirds of McDonnell’s playing time was on the offensive side of the disc, and he was the top cutter with 25 catches. However, McDonnell’s O-line time allowed Delrico Johnson to pass him as the team’s season leader in blocks. Johnson had three of the team’s 10 total blocks, giving him 18 on the year to McDonnell’s 17.
Only four of the team’s 20 active players were not involved in the scoring Saturday, Also, with such a high passing percentage by the team, nine players were perfect on the day with 10+ attempts in the contest. Aside from the three previously mentioned O-line handlers, Tyler Monroe (18/18), Matt Kerrigan (18/18), David Bloodgood (16/16), Jeff Wodatch (12/12), David Shields (11/11), and Troy Holland (10/10) were all perfect with at least 10 attempts.
Breeze Top 5 Performers:
Joe Freund: 4 goals, 3 assists, 14/15 throws (+4)
-O-line efficiency is 60% (1st)
Alan Kolick: 2 goals, 3 assists, 1 block, 40/40 throws (+5)
-Tied for second on the team in assists (29)
Lloyd Blake: 2 goals, 3 assists, 28/28 throws (+5)
-Passing percentage is 96% (3rd of players with 100+ attempts)
Matt Kerrigan: 2 goals, 2 assists, 18/18 throws (+4)
-Passing percentage is 97% (2nd among players with 100+ attempts), O-line efficiency is 58% (2nd)
Tyler Monroe: 3 goals, 2 assists, 18/18 throws (+4)
-Leads the team in assists (39), O-line efficiency is 58% (2nd)
Finishing the regular season with a 10-4 record for the third time in the last four years (7-7 in 2015), the Breeze will host a playoff game against the Montréal Royal (9-5) August 11. The win over the Phoenix gave DC their fourth series victory on the season. The Breeze closed out the year with three straight victories and winners of five of their last six games.