Two Words to Describe the 2023 DC Breeze: Tough and Gritty

AUGUST 18, 2023
By Ryan Maloney

The 2023 DC Breeze season unfolded as a truly special chapter in the team's history. It was one where the franchise held a heartfelt send-off for Coach Darryl Stanley, who concluded his impactful six-year tenure with the Breeze. And it ended with a commendable 10-4 record, signaling another significant season for the squad. While the playoffs ended in a loss, the arrival of standout talents like Andrew Roy and Ben Oort promised a bright future for DC. 

Central to the Breeze's success was an offensive rhythm that definitely dazzled the league. Showcasing new rotations week after week, DC found a way to get the job done. At the heart of this offense was Roy, who easily integrated into the team's small-ball strategy. Roy's 14-game presence boasted a 98.26% completion rate and in total yards, trailed only team-leader Jonny Malks. This offensive flow paved the way for connections downfield, most notably with Christian Boxley, who gave a new dimension to DC's deep game. Both Roy and Malks emerged as key figures in the offense, capable of 30-plus completion and five-plus score games. The partnership of Malks and Boxley led the team with 33 goals each. In the realm of orchestrating assists, Tyler Monroe and Malks held their own, 32 and 29 assists respectively. The standout presence of newcomer Ben Oort certainly elevated the team's finesse every time he was on the field, as well. 

Beyond the spotlight on offense, a formidable trio drove the Breeze's defense to new heights. AJ MerrimanJoe Merrill and Jasper Tom solidified themselves as a dynamic D-line rotation, with a solid blend of size, speed, and athleticism. While DC's block numbers positioned them in the lower ranks of the AUDL, the defense showcased toughness and grit when it mattered most. Merriman, an undeniable force, tallied 17 blocks throughout the season. Merrill and the imposing Moussa Dia joined him in the ranks of blocks, each contributing 12 to the team's defensive arsenal. 

Once again it was the two-time AUDL Champion New York Empire that stood in DC's way. Always disciplined and determined, New York clinched the top spot in the East Division for the second straight year, leaving DC to secure second place. DC showed to be tough and gritty too in some high-level matchups. In the backdrop of the Breeze-Empire rivalry, DC went head-to-head with New York twice during the regular season, setting the stage for a high-stakes AUDL Playoff showdown at Joseph F. Fosina Field.

The first meeting on May 13th resulted in a nail-biting overtime loss for the Breeze, 18-17, while the second encounter in New York on June 30th saw the Breeze fall 21-18. Despite these setbacks, the Breeze's stellar 10-1 record across the remainder of the season undervalued their dominance against East Division rivals and other AUDL competitors. Some dominant victories came over the Montreal Royal (23-14), Toronto Rush (27-17), and Boston Glory (19-12). 

Looking ahead to 2024, the Breeze find themselves poised for continued growth and learning. Anchored by their status as one of the top teams in the AUDL, the departure of Coach Stanley and forthcoming player decisions add emotion to the offseason narrative. While New York accounted for three of the four losses, the Breeze's 10-1 performance against the rest of the East in the regular season was quite impressive and a joy to watch. With much tape to watch and anticipation for a rematch against the Empire next season, Breeze fans can look forward to another exciting year of ultimate frisbee action.