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A Tale of Two Buzzer Beaters Part II

Motivation rarely beats execution. There are times in sports when that happens but at the end of the day, a game in ultimate always come down to which team executed better. What motivation can do is fuel execution. Motivation is a facilitator, not a decider. Off the field, every player has their own internal and external motivators to show up at practice and put in the reps. On the field can fuel a team to find that key ingredient they may be missing from their offense and defense. It is the human element at play every second of every game and every second spent in the training room.

 

Put yourself in the shoes of a Cannons player. You’ve got a series of four games against the Flyers during the AUDL regular season and you’ve already lost two them, both at home. In one game you were outclassed on offense and defense; in the other you held the lead until the very end of the 4th quarter and lost on an inconceivable sequence of plays by Raleigh at the buzzer. You have a shot, albeit a narrow one, of becoming the second team in the AUDL Southern Division and hosting the the first round of playoffs. You’ve already beaten the Dallas Roughnecks once at home, ending their undefeated streak.

 

It’s hard to imagine that the Cannons haven’t been playing with a chip on their shoulder this season. A team as big, fiery and talented as the Cannons is a dangerous one. After beating the Roughnecks and maintaining a winning streak in June, the Flyers were on track to be the number one team in the Southern Division. If there was a team that could derail that position, it was the Cannons.

 

There wasn’t any wind to speak of in Raleigh. Instead of a low scoring slugfest, the game evolved quickly into a fast paced shootout with the Flyers taking an early 9-5 lead over the Cannons. The Flyers were playing loose and they we confident. The Cannons on the other hand were plagued by drops and execution errors as they tried to find a rhythm.  They found it by slowing down the pace of their offense.

 

Terrence Mitchell pull down a backhand from Brian Casey between two Cannons defenders.

You couldn’t ask for a more Florida duo than Cole Sullivan and Bobby Ley. Both players are products of one of the Southeast’s most storied college programs, with Cole playing a generation before Ley. The backfield duo began anchoring the Cannons’ offense last season and have become the faces you expect to see distributing the disc downfield. It was their time to shine against the Flyers as they slowly worked the Cannons back on the map. After a 9-6 hold the Cannons went to work on defense, capitalizing on two Flyers turns to get a break on the board. After a the Flyers overthrew Shane Sisco, the Cannons got several offensive pieces on the field out of a timeout to punch in the 9-8 break.

 

Bobby Ley may be one of the smaller handlers in the Southern division but he is just as deadly as his other backfield partner Cole Sullivan.

Now it was the Flyers turn to feel the pressure as the Cannons capitalized on an overthrown huck by Noah Saul to tie the game on a hammer to defensive stud Jakeem Polk. It was a new game and both teams could feel it. Both squads held all the way to the end of the first half with the Cannons putting some momentum back under themselves on a hammer to Andrew Roney at the buzzer who toed the line for the 12-12 goal.

 

Andrew Roney seals the 1st half toeing the line for the Cannons

The Cannons had flipped a switch, and it was time to see how Raleigh would respond. The weight of being the number one team in the South is a heavy when you opponent can sense a shift in momentum. When the second half started it was the Cannon’s turn to put Raleigh on its heels with two break run. Raleigh responded in kind. After a hold to narrow the lead to 15-13, the Flyers broke twice on the backs of their Charlotte stars Micah Hood and Shane Sisco. The familiar intensity of a Raleigh/Jacksonville game was back. It a tug of war between the two squads as another two break run by the Cannons was answered in kind by the Flyers.

 

The real show however began at the end of the third quarter. With both squads even at 19, the game became an offensive masterpiece crafted by some of the most talented throwers and receivers in the division. There were plenty of highlights to point to; Terrence Mitchell’s huge sky at the end of the third quarter: Michael Fairley’s towering goal in traffic to seal the quarter at the buzzer. None of that however quite tops a very simple statistic: for almost the entirety of the 4th quarter there were no turnovers. There were no blocks. Simply put, the offenses of both teams played perfectly.

 

He did WHAT!? Terrence Mitchell skies two defenders for the insane goal! 👀👏 #Wow

Posted by Raleigh Flyers on Saturday, June 3, 2017

Terrence Mitchell rises to the summit for the Flyers score to close out the 3rd quarter

A perfect quarter is almost unimaginable in the AUDL but that’s what ultimately was required from both teams. Motivation can fuel your play, it can bounce you out of a two or three or four point hole, but it can’t be a substitute for execution. When it’s fourth quarter, execution is all that matters. With the game tied at 26-26 and only 1:51 left to play, the Flyers were running out of time to get the break they needed. The Cannons worked the disc down past the forty yard line and called a timeout. They were just twenty yards from possibly sealing the game. The Flyers were running out of time and running out of room.

 

Ben Dieter hopping aboard the HIGHLIGHT TRAIN!! #ChooChoo #GoFlyers

Posted by Raleigh Flyers on Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ben Dieter runs down a shot to the end zone in the 4th quarter during the Flyers’ perfect run.

Josh Hartzog and Nathan Goff applied a double team on the flick sideline as the Cannons picked up the disc. They contained the Cannons and forced an up line that was almost too far for Jordan Huston to get to. Huston saved the disc on a layout and immediately tried to switch the field. The backhand bounced out of the hands of Andrew Roney and hit the turf. There could only be one team with a perfect quarter to end the night. It wouldn’t be the Cannons.

 

Raleigh Flyers game winning defensive point, capped off by a BIG Jon Nethercutt sky goal#FearTheBeard

Posted by AUDL American Ultimate Disc League on Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Flyers final break of the night as Nethercutt chases down the disc for the goal off the Cannon’s turnover.

Jonathan Nethercutt may very well be the AUDL MVP this year, and not just because of his throws. It’s understandable to think of Nethercutt as a pure thrower but that just simply isn’t the case. He was moved onto defense for more reasons than simply to distribute the disc. As Matt Bode and Justin Allen worked the disc up the field, Nethercutt took off deep. Allen wasted no time putting the shot to Nethercutt who pulled the disc down over two Cannons defenders. 27-26.

There would only be one team with a perfect 4th quarter and it wouldn’t be Jacksonville. With 39 seconds left in the quarter, the Cannons struggled to move the disc past midfield quickly. It was only with seven seconds left to play that Jacksonville moved the disc past the fifty yard line. A hail mary shot by the Cannons floated perfectly into the waiting hands of David Richardson who timed his leap perfectly to collect the disc over the pack of gathering players. Richardson had sealed the game at the buzzer.

David Richardson climbs over the pile to seal the game and Raleigh’s position a the number one team in the AUDL Southern Division.

The Cannons/Flyers rivalry has been on of the defining match ups of the AUDL South. It’s still hard to imagine anyone thinking before the Flyers’ season began on April 1st that it would ultimately come down to two buzzer beaters. Think about the odds of that happening in two back to back games that were played under very different circumstances. Ultimate by its very nature is defined by moments; the sky, the layout, the greatest. Think about the moments that all had to sequentially line up the way they did for the Flyers in back to back games to prevail at the buzzer. It’s a testament to the tenacity and resolve of both the Flyers and the Cannons that these two games were as close as they were. It’s what these players live for; those special moments when you feel the entire weight of your season on the line. 

 

These were two classic games in one of the best rivalries in the league. It’s competitive ultimate at its best; drama filled, under the lights, in the best division in the league.

 

 

Hugo Sowder; Flyers Media and Author @ Ultiworld.

July 13, 2017 | Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Tale of Two Buzzer Beaters Part II

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