Game 1 Recap: Spiders at Cascades
By Donovan Meirlack and Julian Korchin
The San Jose Spiders traveled north to Seattle, Washington for opening day of the 2021 AUDL season. Energy and excitement was high from the moment both teams set foot on the turf. After almost two years, it was finally time to play professional ultimate.
The first quarter saw an even back and forth between both teams. With wind picking up early, the Seattle offense took advantage of downwind opportunities, aggressively and continuously attacking the deep space. The Spiders offense focused on moving the disc laterally— quickly and consistently— with solid flow. Patience was a high priority for San Jose, as handlers searched downfield with caution and decisiveness for the open space. The score was even at 5 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, windy conditions favored the Cascade’s junk-like zone defense, which aimed to clog the middle of the field and force long, risky throws to wide cutters. It was in the end-zone, however, that this defense began to break down, with pockets of space left unguarded, San Jose capitalized.
At halftime, Seattle was up 10 to 7 on San Jose. An effective offense, in addition to defense, helped Seattle secure this lead. Heavy versatility within the Cascade O-line led to a high amount of movement between cutters and handlers. With every player an effective hybrid, the San Jose D-line was surprised. Nevertheless, when the defense shifted and turnovers were forced, the hardworking Spiders defense moved the disc down the field with grit and confidence upwind to secure breaks.
Coming out of halftime, the pace of play was slowed by injury timeouts on both sides. A reinvigorated Spiders defense began to key in on Seattle’s backfield, forcing a turnover and scoring the goal to bring the game back within one. However, the Seattle offense stabilized, and strong defensive zone pressure forced the Spiders offense to let up another break point. Throughout the rest of the third quarter, San Jose was able to generate production out of its young stars to trade holds but could not capitalize on defensive opportunities, leaving the game locked going into the 4th and final period.
The Spiders begin the 4th quarter with a new energy, with key playmakers delivering skies and layout d’s to initially fluster the Cascades offensive and defensive lines. Despite the mounting pressure, the Seattle offense was able to remain composed, delivering hold after hold to keep the score ahead two breaks in their favor. A miscommunication in the Spiders backfield and an errant throw through the cutting corps led to the game-securing break, as the Cascades were able to hold a three goal lead as time wound down and expired to end the game.
Marred by early mistakes caused by the longest off-season in pro ultimate history, this San Jose season opener provided players, coaches, and fans alike a glimpse of what the 2021 Spiders team is capable of. The Spiders will be ready to avenge the early setback in one week at their home opener on June 12th.