In Toronto, Canada everything was different for the DC Breeze compared to their match-up on Friday evening. No rain, only a slight breeze, near perfect conditions. The biggest difference was the result.
Using an imposing defense, the Toronto Rush dismantled the offensive line for DC, winning 29-26 at Varsity Stadium.
Generating 23 break opportunities, the Rush defense clearly won the match-up against DC’s offense. At the end of the contest, there were 14 break scores for Toronto. At one point the Rush had pushed their lead out to 21-15, using an 8-2 run following halftime.
Struggling with their offensive line, different faces were moved into the rotation. With a focus on possession, D-line substitutes Jonathan Neeley, Nate Castine, Rowan McDonnell, and Markham Shofner were worked in with the top O-line players. Then a three-break run by the Breeze defense would push DC back to within two points, but they never got any closer.
Castine (two goals, six assists) was the biggest asset for DC. Of his six assists, four were on an offensive line. While struggling to get open until late, Tyler Monroe found the end zone twice, threw four assists, and was named the Breeze player of the game by the Toronto team. However, he was stifled time again again by Mark Lloyd, one of the best defenders in the league. Playing in the line-up after only four regular season games, Lloyd (three goals, four assists) immediately had a presence on the field. He would add two of the team’s eleven blocks.
Although it was the offense that struggled, the defense was rather effective and kept the team within striking range for DC. The D-line earned 12 break opportunities and converted nine of them. Blocks, however, were few and far between for DC with only five.
Rookie Mike MacKenzie was the biggest scorer on the field for Toronto. Of the 14 breaks, Mackenzie scored five of them, accounting for all of his goals in the contest.
Let's go Breeze! 18-21, 2 seconds left in Q3 pic.twitter.com/inpA7dTa8y
— DC Breeze (@theDCBreeze) August 13, 2017
The loss ends the Breeze’s 2017 season in a similar fashion to last year. As the No. 2 seed in the East Division Playoffs last year, the team fell to the Rush in Toronto for the 2016 division title. This year was a historic season for DC in that the team went undefeated (8-0) at home including Friday evening’s playoff victory. The final head-to-head series with Toronto finishes at two games apiece.
Toronto advances to the AUDL Championship Weekend for the fifth consecutive time. The Rush have been the only team representing the East in the Final Four since their inception in 2014.
This has been edited from the original post.
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