Let’s take a look at some alternative sports leagues that you won’t see in your local sports pages:
AMERICAN ULTIMATE DISC LEAGUE (AUDL) – The only professional ultimate disc league is going through some growing pains as teams have moved or folded during the offseason. The latest move involved the Jacksonville Cannons who have moved to Tampa and will begin play there in the upcoming 2018 season. The Nashville Nightwatch changed ownership in the offseason and plans to make some significant changes in the 2018 season. A new franchise will be added in Portland, Oregon to play in the West Division.
MAJOR ARENA SOCCER LEAGUE (MASL) – Here are the current league standings:
Cedar Rapids 6-8
Kansas City 4-8
St. Louis 2-11
El Paso 5-7
Rio Grande Valley 2-10
San Diego 10-0
AMERICAN BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION (ABA) – The Richmond (VA) Elite are atop the ABA Power Rankings with a record of 10-0. They are followed by the Kentucky Enforcers (11-0), South Florida Gold (12-1), Jacksonville Giants (9-1) and Worcester 78s (10-1).
NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE (NLL) – The Saskatchewan Rush won the battle of the unbeatens when they defeated the Colorado Mammoths 17-12 in Denver. The Rush took over sole possession of first place in the West at 4-0 while the New England Black Wolves lead the East at 3-1.
NATIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE (NWHL) – In their third meeting of the season, the Buffalo Beauts edged the Connecticut Whale 4-3 at a game played in Pittsburgh. Buffalo’s Lisa Chesson scored her first goal of the season and the game winner with less than four minutes remaining. The Beauts are now 5-4 and currently in second place behind the Metropolitan Riveters at 8-0. With the loss, Connecticut drops to 2-7.
It was championship weekend in the world of obscure sports as three sports leagues played their title games. Let’s take a look at the results:
Arena Football League (AFL)
The Philadelphia Soul repeated as ArenaBowl champions with a thrilling 44-40 win over the Tampa Bay Storm. The Soul rallied in the second half, scoring 30 points, after trailing the Storm 20-14 at halftime. Soul Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh started the second half with a 40-yard touchdown throw to Darius Reynolds to lead 21-20. That play got the Soul’s momentum moving in the right direction. They led 28-27 at the end of the third quarter, and then shut down a Tampa Bay drive at the beginning of the fourth. A Radaubaugh throw to Darius Prince on a short fourth-and-goal put the Soul ahead for good.
American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL)
The San Francisco FlameThrowers stunned the ultimate disc world this weekend as they knocked off the Madison Radicals in the semifinal game and then upset the Toronto Rush 30-29 to win their first title. With 3:12 left, San Francisco received the disc, leading 29-28. They maintained possession of the disc for nearly two minutes. San Francisco worked the disc forward, backward, side to side, and forward again. With just 1:21 on the clock, Cassidy Rasmussen threw the score to Marcelo Sanchez. Toronto got a goal with 38 seconds remaining to keep within reach. The Rush pinned San Francisco in its own end zone but couldn’t come up with a block. The FlameThrowers were able to run out the clock to secure the 30-29 victory.
Gridiron Developmental Football League (GDFL)
The Oklahoma Thunder repeated as Gridiron Bowl champions with a convincing 51-12 win over the Chattanooga Eagles on Saturday in Memphis. (Note: There is no posting of the game report from this game on any of the league’s or team’s social media sites. Only the final score.)
Here are some of the sports news you won’t see on ESPN….
It’s the final four weekend in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The Madison Radicals (13-2), San Francisco FlameThrowers (11-4), Dallas Roughnecks (13-3) and Toronto Rush (13-2) meet in Montreal this weekend to play for the title. Dallas won the title last season. Madison is seeking their first championship. Toronto last won the title in 2013. San Francisco is the newcomer to the Championship Weekend.
The Philadelphia Soul (14-1) will face the Tampa Bay Storm (11-4) in ArenaBowl XXX in Philadelphia on Saturday. The Arena Football League (AFL) title game will end the league’s 30th season. The Soul is looking to repeat as AFL champions while the Storm will be looking for their sixth ArenaBowl title.
The Oklahoma Thunder (10-0) and Chattanooga Eagles (9-1) will meet in Gridiron Bowl 8 for the Gridiron Developmental Football League (GDFL) crown on Saturday in Memphis. This is the fourth appearance for the Thunder who won the title last year. Chattanooga is making their first trip to the Gridiron Bowl.
For the first time in franchise history, the Ohio Machine claimed the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) title last weekend. Peter Baum scored two goals and added two assists. He scored twice in a two-minute span in the third quarter which fueled Ohio’s comeback from a 10-6 deficit. Ohio defeated the Denver Outlaws 17-12 at the Ford Center in Dallas in front of 7,543 fans.
The Big3 Basketball League (BIG3) will end the season this weekend in Las Vegas with the final four. The Power (4-4), Ghostballers (4-4), Triology (8-0) and 3-Headed Monsters (6-2) advanced to the championship weekend after winning their playoff games last weekend in Seattle. Rashard Lewis was awarded the league’s MVP. Stephen Jackson was dubbed the Best Trash Talker.
The Los Angeles Sparks moved to the top of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) power rankings this week. They won a double-overtime thriller over Chicago as four Sparks had double-doubles in the game. They play four of their final five games at home.
Puerto Rico FC has taken advantage of the fresh start provided by the arrival of the NorthAmerican Soccer League’s (NASL) Fall Season. After a tough first half of the year, the Caribbean side is thriving at the top of the table after a pair of strong results on the road in Week 4 of the Fall Season. The club’s next opponent will be Spring Season Champion Miami FC, which enters the weekend riding a three-game winning streak. The top-of-the-table clash will get underway at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium on Saturday night.
On day two of the 2017 TOTAL Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships, the United States had its final two athletes go home. Bjorn Seguin took on Germany’s Marc Zwiebler in men’s singles and lost, 21-10, 21-15. Zwiebler started game one by scoring the first four points of the match and never trailed. Game two was close early, Zwiebler led 8-7, before rattling off five straight to propel himself to the victory. In men’s doubles action, Mathew Fogarty partnered with Nicholas Bonkowsky of Trinidad and Tobago as they took on Kah Ming Chooi and Juan Shen Low of Malaysia. Fogarty and Bonkowsky scored the first point of the match, but that was the highlight for the duo. The Malaysians won game one 21-2, followed by a 21-4 win in game two.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs claimed their first Cowles Cup in franchise history with a 5-2 win over the USSSA Pride in the winner-take-all contest of the final series in the 2017 NationalProfessional Fastpitch (NPF) Championship held at Tiger Park on the LSU campus.
Rookie Kasey Cooper charged the offense with three RBI, the bulk coming on a two-run home run in the sixth inning that gave the Scrap Yard Dawgs (35-19) the lead for good. Monica Abbott pitched her second complete game of the afternoon, limiting the Pride to two runs off four hits while striking out 11. It was Abbott’s two-hit, 14-strikeout performance earlier in the day that forced the decisive third game. Abbott was named MVP of the NPF Championship series. The Tennessee alum and Scrap Yard Dawgs ace limited foes to 15 hits and struck out 56 over 29 innings in the tournament. The Pride (43-11), who received a leadoff homer from Megan Wiggins for an early lead, reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third after Kirsti Merritt delivered a two-out RBI single to score Sierra Romero who reached on a fielding error. Angel Bunner relieved starting pitcher Kelsey Nunley in the fourth inning and retired the side in her first two innings of work, but yielded the go-ahead homer to Cooper in the sixth inning. The Scrap Yard Dawgs gave Abbott additional breathing room in the top of the seventh. Meagan May Whitley led off with a solo shot that landed in the left field berm and Cooper later drew a bases loaded walk to force home a run that stretched the lead to 5-2. Abbott finished the game off in style with consecutive strikeouts of Romero and pinch hitter Gionna DiSalvatore to close out the seventh inning. Kayla Winkfield led the way with two hits and five others contributed one apiece as the Scrap Yard Dawgs totaled seven in the contest.
The 2017 American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) championship weekend in Montreal is set with the four teams who clinched their division titles last weekend.
West Division: San Francisco FlameThrowers 33, Los Angeles Aviators 22
The FlameThrowers clinched a bid in their first AUDL Championship Weekend with a win over the Los Angeles Aviators. Joel Schlacht lead the FlameThrowers with eight goals and four assists. The FlameThrowers fell short in the Division Finals last season when they lost to the Seattle Cascades.
East Division: Toronto Rush 29, DC Breeze 26
The Rush once again held off the Breeze in the East to advance to their 5th straight AUDL Championship Weekend. Mark Lloyd lead the Rush with three goals and four assists and two blocks. The Rush edged the Breeze 23-21 in overtime last season.
Midwest Division: Madison Radicals 27, Pittsburgh Thunderbirds 22
The Radicals and Thunderbirds are no strangers in the postseason as the Radicals won their third straight meeting to advance to their 5th straight AUDL Championship Weekend. Peter Graffy had four goals and four blocks in the game.
South Division: Dallas Roughnecks 27, Raleigh Flyers 24
The Roughnecks earned a repeat trip to the AUDL Championship Weekend with their win over the Flyers. The Roughnecks will be looking to repeat as AUDL champions.
The semifinals games will be played on Saturday, August 26th with Madison facing San Francisco. Dallas will play Toronto in the other semifinal.
I apologize for the lack of detail in the game reports as the league website and Facebook sites do not do a good job with that. The league needs to do a better.
The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds are used to playing these kinds of games in the playoffs. In 2015, they edged Chicago 24-23 in overtime and last season they beat Minnesota 20-18 in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) playoffs.
On Saturday, they overcame a five goal deficit on the road to once again hand the Minnesota Wind Chill an early exit in the playoffs.
The Thunderbirds won 26-25 to advance to the Midwest Division final this weekend at Madison.
Minnesota had the crowd and the lead on their side for much of the game in what was the first playoff home game in the franchise’s five-year history. The Wind Chill took a decisive 4-0 lead from the get go thanks to their tenacious defensive play, and steady offensive execution. The highlight of the first half came with with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter. Minnesota defender Dylan DeClerck burst on a Pittsburgh pass for a layout block, and then continued his energy into the momentum for the bookends score and the 15-11 Wind Chill lead.
But Pittsburgh continued to hang tough throughout the contest. Despite trailing 18-13 midway through the third quarter, the Thunderbirds offense continued to find their rhythm while the defense dug deep to produce opportunities late in the game.
Following a Minnesota goal that put the score at 23-19, the Thunderbirds went on a 6-0 run during the fourth quarter to take the decisive lead. Max Thorne contributed on three scores during the rally, and finished the game with a team-high four assists and seven goals.
There will be a full slate of playoff action this weekend:
Friday, August 11
Montreal at DC
Saturday, August 12
Dallas at Raleigh
Pittsburgh at Madison
Los Angeles at San Jose
Sunday, August 13
Montreal/DC winner at Toronto
Los Angeles/San Jose winner at San Francisco
(Pittsburgh-Minnesota game story from AUDL website)
The Dallas Roughnecks avenged their two losses to the Jacksonville Cannons in the regular season with a 22-12 in the South Division playoff. Jimmy Mickle led the Roughnecks with five assists as the entire team completed 96 percent of their combined 304 passes in the game. They also held Jacksonville to a season-low 12 goals. The Roughnecks will move on to play the Raleigh Flyers on August 12th in the Division Final.
In other playoff games:
Montreal will play at DC on Friday, August 11th with the winner playing at Toronto on August 13th. In the Midwest, Pittsburgh will travel to Minnesota on August 4th with the winner moving on to play at Madison on August 12th. San Jose and Los Angeles will play on August 12th then play San Francisco the following day for the division title.
The four division winners will advance to Championship Weekend IV in Montreal on August 26-27.
Here are the updated power rankings of the teams left in the playoffs:
The 2017 regular season of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) wrapped up this weekend and here are the final standings:
Toronto Rush (13-1)*
DC Breeze (10-4)*
Montreal Royal (9-5)*
New York Empire (6-8)
Philadelphia Phoenix (4-10)
Ottawa Outlaws (2-12)
Madison Radicals (12-2)*
Minnesota Wind Chill (11-3)*
Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (9-5)*
Indianapolis Alley Cats (5-9)
Chicago Wildfire (3-11)
Detroit Mechanix (1-13)
Raleigh Flyers (13-1)*
Dallas Roughnecks (11-3)*
Jacksonville Cannons (10-4)*
Atlanta Hustle (5-9)
Austin Sol (4-10)
Nashville Nightwatch (0-14)
San Francisco Flamethrowers (10-4)*
Los Angeles Aviators (9-5)*
San Jose Spiders (8-6)*
Seattle Cascades (7-7)
San Diego Growlers (7-7)
Vancouver Riptide (1-13)
This weekend’s divisional playoffs will be Montreal at DC, Pittsburgh at Minnesota, Jacksonville at Dallas and San Jose at Los Angeles.
Pittsburgh edged Minnesota in the divisional round last year with a thrilling 20-18 win. The Thunderbirds have won in this round the past two seasons but have failed to advance past the divisional final.
Toronto and Madison have qualified for their fifth straight postseason.
Montreal will host the AUDL championship weekend August 26-27.