Playing at home is always exciting, but each season's home opener is special. There is a unique energy in the air around the teams. Players are amped up to put on their pristine new jerseys, to walk out of the tunnel and to hear the crowd as they are announced. Fans are buzzing about how good the teams could be, eager for that first big play to get them off their seats.
With a new season, anything is possible. Every team has an equal chance to be a champion. It is up to them to become their potential.
New coach Ryan Balch had his NightWatch believing from the minute they stepped off the bus. The NightWatch handled windy conditions in Grady Stadium well and capitalized on Hustle miscues to rattle off 4 breaks in the first quarter They lead 6-3 at the first buzzer.
The teams traded the first 8 possessions of the 2nd quarter, 10-7 Nightwatch. That's when the Hustle defense made their first counterattack. Allan Laviolette hit Nathan Vickroy for a big gainer to set up their 1st break. Sun Choi gave the Hustle a second chance with this sneaky block.
Coach Swanson called a timeout to sub the offense in and they executed in the redzone to make it back-to-back breaks cutting the deficit to 1. That's where it would stay going into halftime, NightWatch 11 - Hustle 10.
Starting on O in the second half the Hustle tied it up at 11s when Max Leonard fired a strike to an open Trenton Spinks. The Watch O stayed out front putting the pressure back on the Hustle O line to keep pace. In danger of falling behind again JP Burns delivered the Spin Ultimate Play of the Game, a callahan to tie it up at 12s.
The Hustle would the cash the break to take their first lead since the 1st point of the game at 13-12 when Sean Sears hauled in this forehand from Ryan Archibald.
Allan Laviolette makes a great acrobatic catch on a crossfield pass from Anders Olsen. Back-to-back Hustle breaks, again! 14-12. They took that 2pt into the 4th quarter.
Atlanta coaches did not let the team feel comfortable up only two on this gritty Nashville squad. They know a lot can happen in 12 minutes in the AUDL South if you lose focus.
The Hustle D-line exploited a NightWatch misfire to open the lead to three. Using that energy, they shifted into a new gear, suffocating Nashville on their own goal line, forcing a stall and punching in a short break. 19-15 Hustle
On the next point Tree stuck out a branch to get a block and then completed the "bookends" by catching the goal and third consecutive Hustle break.
Nashville got back on course with an offensive hold and the Hustle reciprocated with one of their own, the 12th consecutive hold since the 1st quarter.
At this point, Atlanta could have been content to let the clock do its job, but they were not. They played unrelenting defense and the NightWatch had no answer. The Hustle capped the game with 5 breaks in a row, showing exactly how good this defense can be.
The offense overcame a slow start to finish with an almost 80% efficiency, better than their 2015 average.
Depth - In this game 14 players threw an assist and 17 players scored a goal.
16 goals is the second fewest ever allowed by the Hustle.
The defense tallied 12 breaks on 16 blocks converting 67% of their break chances. In 2015 they hit that break total three times with the ATL franchise record holding at 14 breaks versus Charlotte who comes to town next week.
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- Taylor Goforth 2A - 1G - 3B
- Sam Gainer 2A - 3G - 1B
- Trenton Spinks 4G - 2B
- Mark Poole 2A - 3G
- Max Leonard 3A - 1G
- Kelvin Williams 3B -1G
- Dylan Tunnell 4A -2G
- Allan Laviolette 3B - 1A - 1G