With only six games remaining in the season, this game against the Chicago Wildfire will impact the postseason.
The AlleyCats (6-1) entire this game after a much needed off week. Head coach Eric Leonard said “it’s always nice to have a weekend off.”
“I’m confident we’ll be ready to play after being rested,” Leonard said. “The team understands the importance of this game, so there should be no issue with us coming out with some intensity.”
This is the second meeting between both the AlleyCats and Wildfire. In week 5, the AlleyCats won, 25-21. From their first meeting, Leonard said he learned that “Chicago likes to spread the field with their split stack and attack the middle of the field.”
“Our goal on defense will be to clog the middle and force the disc to the sideline,” Leonard said. “If we can accomplish this, I feel confident about our chances of generating blocks. Defensively, Chicago will try to trap us on the sideline with aggressive marks. We have worked on moving the disc quickly out of that position to lessen their defensive pressure.”
For this weekend’s game, the AlleyCats have to watch out for two Wildfire players.
WILDFIRE PLAYERS TO WATCH
The Wildfire (2-3) come into this game with a loss to the Madison Radicals, 24-16. In the game, Pawel Janas led the team with eight assists. This season, Janas leads the team with 33 assists and third among other American Ultimate Disc League players.
One of the other players to watch is Kurt Gibson. After suffering an offseason injury, Gibson has six assists and five goals. Sam Sohn, one of the AlleyCat players to watch for this game, said “Chicago has a great squad with really talented players.”
“I’m excited to see what Kurt brings to their offense,” Sohn said. “Pawel and Trotter have great throws, while Barker and Miller are great cutters. Their defense plays tight and aggressive.”
SOHN AND CARPENTER PROVIDE OFFENSIVE POWER
On the flipside, Sohn and Carpenter are two AlleyCats to watch. Sohn is tied for fifth on the team with 12 goals and tied for tenth with five assists. Carpenter is fourth with 14 goals and fifth with 14 assists.
In the last game against Pittsburgh, both Sohn and Carpenter were among the top five players on the team with goals. Carpenter led the team with six. But with the playoffs on the line, the AlleyCats need all players to step up.
“With playoff implications on the line, this should be a true test of our strength,” Sohn said. “It’ll be a good game.”
HOW THE PLAYOFFS WORK IN THE AUDL
In the AUDL, all of the teams attempt to finish in the top three in their respective division. The second and third teams face each other, while the first team receives a bye to the next round. After the divisional round is over, the four teams remaining face each other in the Championship Weekend.
For instance, last season the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds, Radicals and Minnesota Wind Chill were the three teams from the Midwest Division. The Radicals ended up losing to Toronto Rush in the semi-final in Championship Weekend. This season, Leonard said he thinks his team will make the postseason.
“We are in prime position right now, but the real work lies ahead,” Leonard said. “While we do have a good shot at the postseason, we still need to buckle down to actually make it a reality.”
The game starts at 7 p.m. on May 26 at Grand Park Events Center.