Tuesday Toss: The Postseason Push

June 18, 2024
By Evan Lepler

With just five weeks and 59 games left in the 2024 regular season, the playoff picture is starting to reveal itself. Yes, there’s still 41 percent of the schedule remaining, but every team has played at least six games, there’s a hierarchy forming at the top of every division, and it’s important to take note of where we are. 

Furthermore, it’s time to introduce you to the unusual acronym “ADPD.” That stands for “Adjusted Division Point Differential,” and it very possibly could decide who hosts the East Division Championship Game in a couple months. 

We’ll get to all of the meaningful Week 8 results, but first we are diving into each divisional race. Hopefully, this will serve as a thorough explanation of the present while perhaps also giving an enlightening glimpse into the future.


The favorite: Boston (6-2)
The contenders: DC (7-2), New York (5-3)
Still mathematically alive: Montreal (2-4)
Building towards 2025: Philadelphia (1-6), Toronto (1-6)

The Details: First, a quick caveat. “The Favorite” means most likely to win the regular season race. It’s not necessarily who the oddsmakers would pick to make Championship Weekend.

Obviously, it’s a little weird to list Boston, who’s currently a half-game behind DC for first place, as “The Favorite,” but the Glory have a far advantageous remaining schedule. If you add up the record of Boston’s final four opponents, it’s 6-20. DC, on the other hand, has three foes that are a combined 13-7. If you want to include New York in this conversation, the Empire’s last four games are against teams that are currently 19-10. 

But let’s say DC does finish tied with Boston atop the East, the fact that they are 1-1 against one another and those two games were decided by the exact same margin (one) means that we progress to the third tiebreaker: Adjusted Division Point Differential. 

Quoting directly from UFA rules, “Adjusted Division Point Differential is averaging the differential against each Division Opponent in all games played, giving equal weight to each matchup, and then adding that up for an Adjusted Division Point Differential. This helps resolve the imbalance of cross division games and three games against a weaker foe for one team but not the other.”

Currently, the Glory have an ADPD of plus-19.5. 

DC’s is plus-17. 

(New York’s is just plus 5.5.) 

There’s no doubt that the Glory have benefited from a less challenging schedule, playing zero interdivisional games while DC and New York have already squared off and lost against Salt Lake and Atlanta, respectively. The Breeze also still have to play the first-place Flyers on June 28, while the Empire have matchups with Salt Lake and Minnesota beckoning in the next month as well. 

To put it super simply: this is Boston’s best chance. Their schedule very likely will get much tougher in 2025, but right now the Glory have a tremendous opportunity to take care of business against Toronto and Montreal to earn the right to play one home game for a berth to Championship Weekend. 

Montreal is technically only one game behind New York in the loss column, but the Empire already swept that season series to earn a potential head-to-head tiebreaker. That means that even if the Royal somehow went 5-1 in their final six—and this seems mighty farfetched after their catastrophic closing stretch against DC on Sunday—the Empire could still finish the season 2-2 and sneak in the dance. 

The race for third place would sure look mighty different if Montreal had held off the Breeze and New York’s skeleton squad had fallen at Philly, but even if the Royal can string some victories together during the second half of their season, those two concurring Week 8 results will likely be a damning dynamic in preventing the Quebecois from becoming a more substantial factor in the East Division’s postseason chase. 

We’ll march through the other divisions a tad more quickly since ADPD likely is only relevant in the East.


The favorite: Carolina (6-0)
The contender: Atlanta (5-2)
First round fodder: Austin (4-4)
Building towards 2025: Houston (3-5), Dallas (0-6)

The Details: Atlanta could still catch Carolina with a pair of home wins over the Flyers in the next five weeks, but the eight-goal margin way back in Week 1 presumably means that the Hustle would likely only surge to the top seed if the Flyers also lose at DC on June 28 since  Obviously, Atlanta would also have to win in Austin on June 29. Regardless how these two teams finish the regular season, I fully expect an epic South Division final, with either side capable of prevailing on the other’s home-field.


The favorite: Salt Lake (6-1)
The contenders: Seattle (7-2), Oakland (4-2)
Still mathematically alive: San Diego (3-4), Colorado (2-5)
Building towards 2025: Los Angeles (1-6), Portland (1-6)

The Details: The Shred are still clearly the class of the West, and from everything we’ve seen through eight weeks of ultimate, the first round playoff game is very likely to be the Cascades and the Spiders. But the Growlers, with three games against Oakland in the next five weeks, still control their destiny. The Summit are no longer fully in charge of their own fate after dropping two straight in Week 7, but there is a world where they could run the table, sneak back to 7-5, and benefit from a second straight late-season skid from the Spiders. With that said, Colorado has a myriad of issues and it’s tough to fathom, even with a friendlier upcoming schedule, that the Summit are gonna suddenly find their best form and go on a tear. Plus, even if Colorado did win five straight, Oakland would need to finish just 3-3 in their final six to keep the Summit on the sidelines for the postseason. 

By the way, if Seattle and Oakland finish in a two-way tie with identical records, ADPD would decide who gets to host. But since both already won on the other’s home-field this season, this feels slightly less significant than DC and Boston trying to potentially point-diff one another out of the one-seed.


The favorite: Minnesota (5-1)
The contenders: Madison (5-2), Pittsburgh (4-3), Chicago (4-3)
Still mathematically alive: Indianapolis (3-3)
Building towards 100 consecutive losses: Detroit (0-7)

The Details: Big game this weekend between Madison and Minnesota, but since it’s in St. Paul, the Wind Chill are solid favorite to further separate themselves from the pack. Pittsburgh’s triumph in Chicago this past Friday night was gigantic since it was their only meeting of the season. Hence, the Thunderbirds own any head-to-head tiebreaker with the Union. Small margins will determine which contenders can earn playoff berths and who gets left out, but the eye-test says that Minnesota remains several notches above the others in this weirdly chaotic division, where on any given day, anybody (except Detroit) can beat anybody.

The Full Field Layout

It was obvious that Colorado’s schedule was packed with challenges, but who would have ever imagined that the Summit would go into a four-game road trip and defeat only the undefeated Salt Lake Shred? 

Colorado’s comeback from five goals down in Utah 10 days ago was a cathartic result, no doubt, but it also did not exactly indicate that the Summit had solved their numerous offensive woes. One week later, they battled with heart and passion throughout eight competitive quarters in Madison and Minnesota, but chemistry, cohesion, and clutch were all lacking as the Radicals and Wind Chill handed Colorado a difficult dose of reality. 

Stunningly, the Summit are now 2-5 this season and just 5-10 in their last 15 games since going 17-2 in their first 19 contests as a franchise. 

On Friday, Colorado broke the shaky Radicals O-line on the opening possession, but the Summit’s makeshift offense proved to be even more wobbly over the course of the night. While watching from my hotel room in Minnesota, I remarked how Colorado’s starting offensive unit felt like seven glue guys, all players I’d want on my team, but a group that lacked the higher echelon playmakers who could consistently take over possessions. 

Additionally, Madison’s strength has long been its D-line, and the Radicals persistent pressure combined with their efficient break-rate had the Summit quickly playing catchup.

“We showed how well we can play in the first half,” said Madison veteran Josh Wilson. “We took advantage of the Colorado turns and kept our energy levels high. This wasn’t hard to do when you have a player performing like Pieran Robert did. He was perfect at finding the open space of the field at the right time, and we had the throws to reward him.”

Robert scored six goals by halftime as Madison built a 15-10 lead. But the Rads offense continued to waver as their advantage gradually slipped away in the second half, and Colorado, despite trailing by three with 4:30 remaining, somehow managed to earn an equalizing opportunity in the final 30 seconds. Down just one, Summit standout Alex Atkins had the disc in his hands and saw Chance Cochran with some space near the front corner of the end zone. But Atkins’ forehand floated a tad too long, and Madison’s Jake Carrico delivered the game-sealing block. 

Sterling Knoche hauled in an time-eating huck and dished Robert his seventh and final score of the night with three seconds left, as Madison prevailed 24-22.

“It was a roller coaster of a point,” said Wilson. “But I think it showed how we have grown over the last few seasons…My takeaway from this game is that the Radicals are able to compete with any team in the league. I would have loved to win by more. But we were able to stop the comeback.”

One night later, moving Atkins and Noah Coolman back onto the O-line helped to solve some of the Summit’s holding woes, but now Colorado’s D-line couldn’t cash in any breaks. Colorado went just 2-for-12 on break opportunities against Minnesota, as the Wind Chill showcased their depth, athleticism, and ability to meet the moment in a 20-17 victory. 

“This was a statement,” said Minnesota veteran Josh Klane. “Not only getting revenge on them for last year, but knowing our rival Madison took care of them [on Friday night], we definitely wanted to do the same thing and show that we are a top team looking and vying to win a championship.”

Klane and Will Brandt combined for nearly 1,100 total yards anchoring the Chilly attack, while Colin Berry, Jordan Taylor, and Bryan Vohnoutka also had strong nights making big plays downfield.

Klane surely could have gushed about any of his teammates during our postgame conversation, but he specifically singled out Matt Rehder, who finished the night with three goals, one block, and 276 total yards, as a crucial difference-maker for his team. 

“I can’t state enough how big of an impact Matt Rehder has on our team,” said Klane. “He, more than anyone else on our team, has championship experience. He keeps our mindset where it needs to be throughout the game, throughout the season.”

Sounds like the type of guy Colorado’s currently missing. 

At 2-5, the Summit understand their playoff chances are now quite slim. In several conversations with Colorado players at Surly Brewing Co. on Saturday night, there was a sense of disappointment and regret, along with an acknowledgement that injuries, absences, and perhaps a lack of adaptability have all added up to the current predicament. 

In many ways, it speaks to the quality of the league that a team like Colorado could enter the season with genuine championship ambitions and still lose five of its first seven games. The bar is being raised all around the Association, and if teams don’t bring their best, it’s gonna be tough to sneak away with wins. 


Unless a team is facing Philly. 

That’s a cheap shot, and I genuinely take no pleasure in writing it, but the fact is all signs pointed to the New York Empire suffering a similar fate as Colorado in Week 8, shorthanded on the road against a hungry opponent.

With a slew of players that were either recently signed or had never previously handled significant roles in past Empire games, New York still somehow figured out how to preserve possession as well as the franchise ever has in a regular season contest. The Empire had six turnovers in the first half and fell behind by four, but New York had just one turn after halftime and none in the fourth quarter, as the Empire somehow escaped with a slim 21-20 triumph over the Phoenix. 

“We knew it was going to be a grind to start the game and Philly would come out swinging, so we just had to keep as level-headed as possible and grind points out,” said New York’s Liam Haberfield. “Past experience would tell us that Philly can’t hang for the full four quarters, and if we can endure the heat and push through late we will be in good stead.”

A painfully accurate assessment, indeed. 

“Momentum swung as a result of Matt Labar’s layout block on Sean Mott in the third quarter,” added Haberfield, “and then obviously Jack’s huge Callahan. These were incredible plays and huge for the boys to get some real energy going down the stretch in that game.” 

Labar’s block came with the Empire trailing 11-9, and the ensuing score brought New York within one. About nine minutes later, Jack Williams’ sensational Callahan tied the score at 15-all, and another Empire break, capped by a 25-yard shot from Haberfield-to-Laber, gave New York its first lead of the night at 16-15 to close out the third. 

Philly never had the disc with another chance to surge in front, as the Empire played perfect possession-based ultimate over the final 12 minutes, with Williams and Elliott Chartock, who finished with 75 completions, 567 total yards, and 10 scores, leading the way. 

That’s now five straight years that the Phoenix have played New York within one or two goals without every tasting victory over the Empire. There’s something to be said about New York’s winning DNA, and even though the Empire are still looking up at DC and Boston in the East Division standings, there’s still plenty of belief that a three-peat could be in the cards for the two-time reigning champs in the coming months. 

“Nobody ever said winning three straight was going to be easy, but we have the tools to get the job done,” said Haberfield. “The early season adversity has given us experience and something to fix, and we’re a bloody good team of mechanics, I can tell you that much.” 


The other astonishing result in Week 8 transpired in Montreal, where the Breeze were on the second day of a back-to-back on Sunday afternoon. It was quite competitive for the first 40 minutes, but then it felt like DC was maybe running out of gas, as the Royal used a 5-1 spurt to create a 20-17 advantage with less than five minutes left. 

To be fully transparent, I actually turned the game off when Montreal went up by three with 4:23 remaining. It felt to me like DC was done, Montreal was motivated, and a 1-1 trip north of the border for the Breeze was certainly nothing to scoff at. 

But about an hour later, I learned what had actually happened next, and I immediately checked out the archive on WatchUFA.tv. Depending on your perspective, it was either an epic comeback or a devastatingly brutal collapse.

“I personally didn’t believe we were going to win towards the end, but I did know that everyone knew what to do in order to increase our chances of winning,” said DC’s Jeff Wodatch. “We knew we had a chance if the right things broke our way.”

Here’s how it happened. 

Having already been broken four times in the fourth quarter, the Breeze O-line finally managed a hold to inch within two with 3:11 left. 

From there, Montreal turn. Breeze timeout. Wodatch huck to Tyler Monroe. Two throws later, it’s a one-goal game, 20-19, with 1:09 left. 

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to perform to our standards during the last minutes of the game,” said Royal Coach Alex Lemieux. 

The Breeze used a roller-pull to force Montreal to play from the sideline and against a double team, and Jasper Tom hand-blocked Kevin Groulx’s aggressive upfield attempt, a decision he immediately regretted. 

“I saw Quentin [Bonnaud] striking deep and just took a split-second decision,” said Groulx. “In retrospect, that was not necessary.”

Tom then connected with Luke Rehfuss with 31 seconds left, tying the game at 20. Still, the Breeze did not truly believe they were going to win the thing in regulation. 

“I was pretty certain we were going to go to overtime,” said DC defender Alexandre Fall. “During that furious comeback, the one thing I didn’t expect was to win in regular time. Our goal the final point was to contain them. But our pressure and game plan helped generate another turnover.”

Indeed, another error from Groulx, misfiring due to perpetual DC pressure and a rising stall count, shockingly had the Breeze in position to punch in the game-winner. Battling through cramps, Fall found an open pocket of space and caught Tom’s short dish with just two seconds left, the first and only goal of the season thus far for a guy who had not been active on DC’s roster all year until this weekend. 

“I don’t know why my body decided to give when it did, but I started to cramp like crazy as the cutting lane for that final score opened up,” said Fall. “My hamstring seized up a few steps before I caught it, which, I think, actually helped, because I knew what I was dealing with as I caught the final goal. Honestly, it felt amazing. I knew it was just a big cramp, so I wasn’t concerned about a more significant injury.” 

The Royal’s desperation huck as time expired was easily swatted down shy of the goal line, and the comeback, or collapse, was complete. Final score: DC 21, Montreal 20. Elation from one side, and excruciating emotional suffering on the other. 

“Personally, this win was sweeter than any of our previous victories this season,” said Breeze Captain Rhys Bergeron. “It wasn’t pretty, but great teams find the grit to win when it comes down to the wire.” 

Like New York, DC has several years of developing winning DNA. Montreal, on the other hand, is still searching for that killer instinct. 

“It was pretty brutal mentally,” said Groulx. “I don’t remember having that tough of an ending in my career [...] I take a lot of the burden on this loss. It is really frustrating, but all in all, we played a good game and there is a lot of growth and good progression on the Royal this year.”

On Monday, Montreal regrouped at a team barbecue, knowing that their waning playoff hopes are fully on the line this coming weekend at Philly and in a road rematch with DC.

“We had a meeting yesterday, and [Kevin] Quinlan said it very well. We have the talent, now we just have to want the victory a bit more in these situations and take it upon ourselves to take the W from our opponent. We need to dictate how we end the game.” 

Time will tell whether the Royal learn their lesson, while DC, for the moment, relished its 2-0 weekend that inched the Breeze back into first place. 

“It was a pretty crazy comeback that was really fun to be a part of,” said Wodatch.

Coming up later today in "Seven On The Line", Atlanta’s historic offensive performance, Pittsburgh’s tremendous turnaround, San Diego’s emergence as an under-the-radar contender, and all the rest of the Week 8 events around the UFA.