The Empire Dominate the Shred

June 29, 2024

By, Quincey McKeen

It was a windy, overcast day in Hartford, Connecticut when the Salt Lake Shred took on the New York Empire. The Shred last faced the Empire in the 2023 Championship final and were excited to have another go at the three-time champs. Unfortunately, it proved to be a rough rematch for the Shred. 

The Empire came out hot and were helped along by some uncharacteristic Shred errors. New York started with a hold and followed with three breaks, with Marques Brownlee making his presence known and getting two blocks in as many points. The Shred defense came out and fought back into the game, with a hold and two breaks of their own, playing great team defense to stop the Empire’s deep shots. The first quarter ended 3-5 for New York. 

In the second quarter, the Empire continued to dominate the scoreboard, scoring four times before the Shred got another point on the board. The Shred had a run of bad luck, with throws going awry and passes bouncing off fingertips. The Empire’s flow also struggled at times. In the Shred’s first scoring point of the quarter, there were multiple turns and a timeout from both sides before the Shred put it away. There were moments of normalcy: a beautiful forehand huck from Jordan Kerr to Simon Dastrup for the goal; a great block from Chad Yorgason that led to a Shred break. But the quarter ended with the Shred unable to overcome an unsportsmanlike conduct call that had them starting at the back of the end zone. The score was 7-12 for New York. 

The second half opened with a series of holds: Empire, Shred, Empire. Confusion over an out-of-bounds pull put the Shred back 10 yards and a just-out-of-reach pass to Elijiah Jaime in the end zone gave the Empire possession. They capitalized with a huck for the goal. It was another instance of the game just not going Shred’s way. The unsportsmanlike conduct foul in the 2nd quarter was called after Shred players protested a slow stall count and several fouls or close calls were overlooked. While the Shred had plenty of unforced errors, the calls also did not go their way. The Empire extended their lead in the third quarter, bringing the score to 10-20 in their favor. 

A deep dive into the second point of the fourth quarter will demonstrate the chaos of this game. The Empire pulled it to the Shred. A floaty huck from Nathan Huff was picked off by the Empire. Huff layed out to get it back for the Shred. Ben Field threw to a covered player. Chad Yorgason picked off a New York huck in the end zone. The Shred worked it all the way down the field and turned it in the end zone, off a zippy pass to Sean Connole that he couldn't reel in. A time out was called. Coming out of the time out, Eugene L’Heureux had a massive layout D, but it floated up and was caught by another Empire player. The Empire threw it away. Chad Yorgason dropped a pass. The Empire worked it down the field and finally scored. Chaos. And yet the fourth quarter was the tightest of the game, with Shred scoring four points and the Empire scoring five. One of those Shred points was a Callahan, caught by Jaime who played very heads up on a bobbled Empire catch. The final score was 14-25 for the Empire. 

It was not the game the Shred wanted or anticipated. But now they must look ahead. They have secured a spot in the play-offs, but have fallen behind the Seattle Cascades in the West Division rankings. The #1 spot is still up for grabs and the Shred will be working to lock it down. Coming in #1 would mean the Shred only have to play one game in the play-offs and they’d be the hosts. Otherwise, they’ll have to hit the road and win two games to make it to Championship Weekend. Every game counts from here on out: the Shred will play the Portland Nitros back-to-back in week 11 and 12 before facing their final hurdle of the regular season, the Seattle Cascades.