The South’s Playoff Chase - The Big Three

by Charles Wendell Morris III

There are a few common themes present between the three frontrunners for the South’s two playoff spots that are currently up for grabs: These teams have the big players and have proven time and time again they can win at home. The three top ranked teams are all undefeated at home because they possess the star power to defend their turf while also winning on the road. The South is proving to be as competitive and star-studded as we all imagined, with the playoffs looming near and the chase for home field advantage seeming to truly come down to the wire. Buckle up and buy your tickets now, AUDL fans, you’re in for a thrilling end of the season in the South Division.

Raleigh Flyers (6-1)

Key Games Remaining:

Jacksonville Cannons (Away, May 30th)

Atlanta Hustle (Away, June 5th)

Jacksonville Cannons (Home, June 14th)

 

Players on the AUDL Stat Leaderboards:

Jarrett Bowen, 25 goals

Justin Allen, 23 assists

Justin Allen, +36 (+/-)

Justin Allen, 187 points played

           

The Flyers have quickly made a name for themselves as an explosive team. With a point differential of +46, it is hard to ignore the offensive firepower that Raleigh often utilizes in their victories. Justin Allen has had a phenomenal season, rarely leaving the field for the Flyers and playing virtually unguardable ultimate while on the turf. These offensive accomplishments have been made mostly without offensive handler standout and 2015 college Callahan winner, Jon Nethercutt, who has only played twenty-five total points with the Flyers this season. Look for him to be a big addition to the Flyers’ roster now that the college season has come to an end. Sitting atop the division, but with an away game with an Atlanta team who plays hot at home left, the Flyers hope to win out and keep their top spot in the South and with it the home field advantage for the one game playoff.

ATLANTA HUSTLE (5-2)

Key Games Remaining:

Raleigh Flyers (Home, June 5th)

Jacksonville Cannons (Away, June 20th)

Jacksonville Cannons (Home, July 4th)

         

Players on the AUDL Stat Leaderboards:

Matt Smith, 33 goals

Matt Smith, +36 (+/-)

Kyle Stapleton, 261 completions

 

The Atlanta Hustle have thrived on the diversity resulting from the Atlanta Ultimate scene’s vast talent pool. From the top of their roster to the very last man, the Hustle are brimming with the talent and depth necessary to make a deep push in this latter half of the season and the playoffs. While the Atlanta Hustle stars are impacting every point of this season, with Dylan Tunnell and Mark Poole playing crucial roles both on and off the field for this team, Atlanta’s faceless army has proven that they can get the job done. Kyle Stapleton leads the team in both points played and completions, while Matt Smith leads the team in goals as well as close to the entire AUDL sitting in second place with 36.  One key to Atlanta’s resounding success is the interchangeability of their players; Atlanta’s “cutters” can step back and break the mark and huck with the best of them, while the “handlers” have the athleticism and size to push down field and make plays. The home game against Raleigh on June 5th could very well decide the fate of the South Division, be sure not to miss out!

Jacksonville Cannons (4-3)

Key Games Remaining:

Raleigh Flyers (Home, May 30th)

Raleigh Flyers (Away, June 14th)

Atlanta Hustle (Home, June 20th)

Atlanta Hustle (Away, July 4th)

 

Players on the AUDL Stat Leaderboards:

Mischa Freystaetter, 24 goals

Michael Hickson, 23 goals

Michael Hickson, +36 (+/-)

           

Height, height, height . . . And did I mention they’re tall? When watching the Jacksonville Cannons, it is impossible not to notice the 6’5+ trio of Hickson, Sullivan, and Freystaetter imposing their will upon their defenders. These three big men have anchored the Jacksonville offensive line all season, combining for 58 of the Cannons’ 160 total goals of the season and 54 of the Cannons’ 160 total assists for the season. This isn’t to say the rest of the team does not contribute, with John Best, Matt Bode and Brandon Perales playing crucial roles behind the disc , especially in that notorious Florida wind. As the season winds down, it is becoming clear that Jacksonville will play a key role in the South’s playoff picture. With two games remaining against each of the top two seeds, one each home and away, the Cannons are surely anxious to gain some ground on the front running duo of Raleigh and Atlanta and work their way into the playoffs. If they cannot clinch a spot in the top two of the South, at the very least, these remaining games will impact the home field advantage of the first place team of the one game playoff, with the July 4th game against Atlanta potentially being the deciding factor. Luckily for us, this will be streamed live on ESPN3!