Players To Watch: Week 8

June 15, 2023
By Daniel Cohen

We’ve officially hit the halfway mark of the regular season, and to say the playoff race is heating up would be an understatement. This week’s watchlist features seven key contributors—and lots of goal-scorers—all playing in games with significant playoff implications, as they’ll look to rally their teams and spark late-season runs entering the back half of the schedule.

Ty Barbieri, Toronto Rush

The Toronto Rush finally got something going offensively last week against Philly, and Ty Barbieri was a driving force. Barbieri had his biggest game of the season with three assists, eight goals, and over 700 yards of offense last Saturday, and he’ll be facing another beatable defense this week at home against Pittsburgh. Barbieri has been the most consistent cutter for the Rush offense this season from a receiving standpoint—he leads the team by a good margin in both goals and receiving yards—but like many others on this O-line, he’s been plagued by turnovers, as he’s had multiple throwaways in five of six games thus far. The Rush will need to string together some momentum in the back half of the year to push Philly and Boston for that third playoff spot, and if Barbieri can stay hot and tighten up his decision-making, it’ll go a long way for a Rush offense looking to build on last week’s success.

Orion Cable, Boston Glory

Leading Boston in scores per game (4.3) through the first half of the season, Orion Cable is back in the lineup for Friday’s game in New York after missing last week’s double header. While he’s played just 13 career games in three seasons with Glory, Cable has made his presence known whenever he’s been active; he’s averaged over 300 yards per game and 4.4 scores through his career. With incredible athleticism and a size advantage over most opponents, the 6’5” cutter is a nightmare to deal with in the deep space, and he’s been rounding out his game to become more of a threat as a disc-mover too. In his last full game against New York in 2022, he scored seven goals and tossed two assists, and while they’ve never beaten the Empire, Boston’s average margin of defeat in those games is just three goals when Cable’s been active. If he can make plays against Ben Jagt and the Empire defense, he’ll spark significant momentum for Glory.

Quinn Finer, Colorado Summit (Pictured)

No Jonathan Nethercutt this weekend for Colorado’s key double header road trip to Salt Lake and Oakland, which means we’ll be seeing another increased workload for Quinn Finer on the Summit offense. When Nethercutt missed Colorado’s Week 6 game against Oakland, Finer had his best game of the season, finishing with 10 scores, five completed hucks, 814 total yards, and a 97 percent completion rate on 35 throws. It was an offensive explosion for a guy that’s taken on a significantly larger throwing role in his second year with the team—he’s on pace for nearly 400 completions after finishing with 282 in the 2022 regular season—and that role will again need to expand without Colorado’s main quarterback this weekend. Finding the right balance of explosive plays while maintaining smart decision-making is going to be the best route for Finer and co. to retake their throne atop the West Division.

Anthony Gutowsky, Madison Radicals

Anthony “Gumby” Gutowsky has quickly made a name for himself in his rookie season as one of the more dominant downfield cutters Madison’s had in the last several years. He’s averaging 3.6 goals per game through their first five and is on pace for 43 goals this year; he’d be the first Radical ever to reach 40 goals in a regular season. He’s shown great instincts to break free for red zone goals with slashing horizontal cuts, and he makes a highlight play in the air at least once a game. Gumby recorded a season-high seven scores against Minnesota last week, and he’ll get them again in a rematch in front of the Madison home crowd in the Week 8 Game of the Week. Highlight plays pair well with the Breese Stevens Field energy, and Gumby could be a catalyst for plenty of runs this Saturday.

Keenan Laurence, Oakland Spiders

Keenan Laurence has been on a tear for the Oakland Spiders. With the new additions on offense, Laurence has been unlocked as a true downfield weapon, capable of taking the top off of defenses, skying in the deep space, and just as easily churning out big gainers underneath. His throws have taken another step forward this year, as has his decision-making—he’s completing 95.0 percent of his throws in 2023, his highest mark in the last three seasons. Sitting at 42 total scores through seven games (fifth in the league), Laurence needs five scores this week against Colorado to set a new career high, a number he’s reached in all but one game this season; he scored a season-high six goals in Colorado two weeks ago.

Will Selfridge, Salt Lake Shred

The best teenager in the league right now, 19-year-old Will Selfridge shined in Salt Lake’s Week 7 win over Colorado. Selfridge repeatedly ran his matchups across the width of the field, slashing through the Summit defense to both facilitate and punctuate Shred drives throughout the night; he finished the game with four assists, two goals, and 374 yards of offense. Quick and springy with a knack for making plays, Selfridge has been a key asset on both sides of the disc and has the versatility to fill whatever role has been needed, whether he’s working with McKay Yorgason as an every-other disc-mover in the backfield, or serving as a field-stretching deep threat for Salt Lake’s multitude of throwers. Regardless of his offense-defense split in tomorrow’s rematch with Colorado, Selfridge will continue building on his Comeback Player of the Year campaign.

Tristan Van de Moortele, Minnesota Wind Chill

Even though they’ve had just one game this season where all their top throwing options have been active, the Minnesota Wind Chill continue to churn out wins and produce enough offensively to keep them in games. Tristan Van de Moortele has been a huge part of their success. Strictly a D-line handler in his rookie 2022 season, TVM has been forced to shift to offense for the past four games and his per-game averages speak for themselves: 4.0 scores, 302 total yards, and 47.3 completions at a 96.4 percent completion rate. Will Brandt and Josh Klane are questionable for Saturday’s Game of the Week, while Abe Coffin and Jason Tschida are inactive, which means Van De Moortele may slot in to the O-line center handler role this week for the second time this season; he had a perfect six score, 76-of-76 throwing performance against Chicago the last time those four players were all inactive.

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