Shaggy's Recap: Week 13

July 18, 2023

By Shaggy Shragis

The Philadelphia Phoenix defeated the Toronto Rush 25-22, improving to 6-6 and handing the Rush only their second losing season in AUDL history. The game was largely put away in the second quarter, when Philadelphia’s defense scored four straight breaks, but Toronto was able to keep it close in the second half, as they broke the Hotbirds three times to just a single break for Philly. Ultimately, the five-point first half Phoenix lead was too great to overcome, and Philadelphia swept the season series for Toronto.

It was a historic game for several Phoenix players. Greg Martin had seven goals, and James Pollard had six, putting them at 43 and 41 goals for the season respectively. This became the first time in Phoenix history that two different players scored 40 or more goals in a season. It was also Greg’s third year in a row scoring 40 or more goals. Sean Mott had one of the most impressive games of the season, with four assists, a perfect 63-for-63 completion rate, and a franchise high 716 throwing yards. 716 is the most throwing yards by any player in the AUDL this year, and his 862 total yards is the fifth-highest single game total this season.

Defensively, Paul Owen’s two blocks pulled him ahead of Eric Witmer and Max Trifillis, ending as the Phoenix season block leader with 16. Matt Hanna’s well timed defense put him at double digit blocks, making it back-to-back seasons with four different Phoenix players registering double digit blocks. Unlike previous years where Philadelphia has had four or more double digit block getters, this is the first time all four players for Philly with the highest block numbers also played primarily on the defensive line. Paul’s first block was a hand block in the end zone with seconds left in the first half, and his quick recognition of the situation allowed him to grab the disc, sprint to the goal line, and throw a Philly break. 

This was a fantastic game for the Phoenix defense, who finished out a prodigious season going 7-of-10 in break opportunities. Since the overtime home loss to New York in week four, Philadelphia has had the highest D-line conversion rate in the league, scoring 70% or more every time the defense forced a turnover. The Hotbird’s defensive scoring acumen was on full display, including a fourth quarter point on offense featuring primarily defensive personnel. After getting broken twice in five points, the Phoenix ran out a line of Colicchio, Martin, Mott, Owens, Pastor, Suvorov, Trifillis. Just three of those players—Mott, Martin, and Suvorov—started the game on offense. That line scored in four throws and 27 seconds, without a huck or turnover. Just crisp, clean offense.

The starting O-line performed well, scoring 25+ points for the second time this season (the first instance was also against Toronto). If the Hotbirds played the Rush every game, they would have some of the gaudiest offensive numbers in AUDL history. Yet the offensive stumbles in the second half demonstrated the offensive inconsistencies  that have plagued the Phoenix this season, particularly against more talented teams. No offense in the league can play perfectly, but with the scoring explosion from Martin and Pollard this game, it would have been nice to see a more efficient performance overall.

All things considered, this was a great end to an up and down season. Martin and Pollard both made franchise history, Mott set a team record in throwing yards, the defense picked up seven breaks, and everyone played top tier ultimate. Philadelphia swept Canada for the first time in franchise history, winning all four games against Toronto and Montreal. Yet they did not win a single game against US competition in the same division, going 0-6 against Boston, DC, and New York. In order to break into the top tier of AUDL teams, the Phoenix will need to channel their offensive and defensive execution against the less polished Canadian rosters into games against more difficult competition. This team had the bones to beat anyone in the league in 2023, now they just need to flesh it out.