This past weekend was a tale of the entire 2017 season for the DC Breeze. A dominant offensive unit that is nearly unstoppable at home, and a team that struggles to piece together consistency on the road. The conditions and the outcomes were polar opposites in the two playoff games over the weekend. Friday evening started with a brutally long (2.75 hour) lightning delay, a downpour, and staying out until nearly midnight. Sunday it was a clear early afternoon game with favorable conditions. The difference was that one was at home and one was on the road.
At home, DC crushed the Montreal Royal. The offense converted 89 percent of their points into goals, and the defense was taking advantage of unforced turnovers for break after break. Given all of the obstacles, the play on the field could not have gone more perfectly. Playing time only ranged from 22 points to 12, a fairly even dose to balance out rest for every player in anticipation of making it to Sunday. The player with twelve was David Cranston, who suffered a stinger during the middle portion of the contest and was unavailable for Sunday’s final.
A constant theme for the road woes in 2017 was the inability to field a full roster outside of Washington D.C. That excuse is no longer available after the 29-26 loss against the Toronto Rush. Nearly the entirety of the top lines were active in the contest, including the two-way reserves. The only missing pieces were midseason rookie signee Joe Freund, and Cranston due to the injury. That’s only one piece each from the offensive and defensive units. Also, keep in mind that Freund only played in five of the regular season contests, so the offensive unit was familiar playing without him.
The Breeze had 21 throwaways and four drops against Toronto. In beautiful weather. In the rain against Montreal, they had only 14 throwaways and two drops.
Attempting to mix-up the lineups, head coach Darryl Stanley called some of the best possession guys up to the O-line, but the offensive unit as a whole finished with only 55 percent productivity. During the entire season, the two units stayed separate especially once the game began. In this contest, 10 players played 10 or more offensive points. It provided a short comeback, but not enough to overtake Toronto. With only five total blocks, DC could not do enough to win back momentum despite a late run near the end of each half.
Moving back to Friday night, four players recorded four assists apiece: Lloyd Blake, Rowan McDonnell, Max Cassell, and Jonathan Neeley. Scoring a career-high six goals, Freund led the scoring and was followed by defender Brian Marshall with three.
Only Delrico Johnson finished with a perfect throwing mark on the weekend that qualified with 10+ attempts. He finished 10/10 with a block.
Breeze Top 5 Performers:
Lloyd Blake: 4 goals, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 63/68 throws (+7)
-Season: Most completions (483)
Tyler Monroe: 4 goals, 7 assists, 31/34 throws (+8)
-Season: Tied for team best plus/minus (+51), Most assists (46)
Max Cassell: 3 goals, 6 assists, 1 block, 40/43 throws (+7)
-Season: Tied for team best plus/minus (+51), Most goals (40)
Nate Castine: 2 goals, 6 assists, 1 block, 26/27 throws (+7)
Rowan McDonnell: 1 goal, 6 assists, 47/52 throws (+4)
-Season: Tied for most blocks (19)
With the loss, the Breeze’s 2017 campaign has come to an end. Toronto, San Francisco Flamethrowers, Dallas Roughnecks, and Madison Radicals will square off at Championship Weekend VI in Montreal, Canada August 26-27 to determine who will become the latest champion of the AUDL.