The Rush are playing in the AUDL’s Eastern Conference, and look like the early favorite to win it. With 16 players from the elite Toronto Club Open team GOAT on the roster, the Rush will have a combination of on field chemistry and big game experience that no other team in the AUDL can match. Other than beating Chain Lightning in the semifinals of the Chesapeake Invite, GOAT didn’t make too much noise in the regular season. That changed once the series started. In the Northeast Regional final they pushed Ironside to the brink, eventually losing 14-16 after holding a 14-11 lead. To that point Ironside had only lost one game all season, and it was the closest anyone had played them since the Emerald City Classic. Unfortunately for GOAT after that game against Ironside PoNY took advantage of their mentally draining game, and won the second place game 15-10 after losing to them by the same score the day before. They ended up third in the region, still going to Nationals but seriously underseeded because of their loss to PoNY.
Once they got to Nationals GOAT got things back in gear, beating Chain Lightning and Sub Zero in pool play, and only losing to Sockeye 13-15. They beat Rhino 15-7 in the power pools to earn a trip to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. Unfortunately they matched up against eventual champions Doublewide, and lost 11-14.
With the depth that GOAT provides, and star players like Adrian Yearwood and Jeff Lindquist, the Rush will cause matchup problems for any team in the AUDL. At Nationals in 2011 Lindquist had 21 goals and 11 assists, leading all players in goals scored while still throwing the third most assists for GOAT. Yearwood didn’t have a bad tournament either, chipping in eight goals and ten assists. The following summer they were both selected to play for team Canada at Worlds in Japan, eventually helping the Candians to a third place finish.
The Rush seem to have a strong front office as well. Their season ticket prices are some of the lowest in semipro Ultimate, at an average of $7.49 a game. They not only have a good home venue in Varsity Stadium, located in central Toronto, they also have an indoor practice facility as well. For a team located in Canada having an indoor facility is a must, since it provided valuable practice time leading up to the season. The Rush website is mostly sound as well, though the roster page isn’t up to date.
Playing in a division with six new teams makes predictions difficult, but it’s not hard to predict that the Rush will end the season at the top of the Eastern Conference. One thing to watch for is how they start. They open the season with back to back away trips, playing the Breeze and Phoenix the first weekend and the Empire and Hammerheads the next. Playing back to back away games is never ideal, but as long as the Rush emerge from that four game start at 3-1 or even 2-2 they’ll have done enough to stay at the top of the pack in the East. If they start the season 4-0, they might not get tested again until the finals when they play whoever comes out of the Midwest.