Saturday evening the Detroit Mechanix hosted the Indianapolis AlleyCats at their indoor Soccer Arena complex in Pontiac, Michigan. Being able to watch the game inside, away from the 40 degree cold was probably good for the fans, and it created a high scoring environment from the start. The first quarter saw the teams trading, with neither team able to pull away from the other. Though there was not much of a difference in the score early on, there was a strong difference in playing style. The Mechanix were taking risky shots, putting up hucks with small windows of success. Sometimes it worked out for them, sometimes it didn’t. Detroit looked like they wanted Indiananapolis to put up hucks in the first quarter, relying on their height advantage to make up for the difference, but the AlleyCats were ensuring their hucks were to space, giving their cutters a better chance at getting the completion. The indoor game meant that there weren’t many turns, at least early in the game, which meant that D-Lines had to convert when given the opportunity.
By the second quarter it looked like the Mechanix were trying to adjust their game for a more indoor approach, taking fewer chances in their offense. But even when their players were open, the Mechanix started overthrowing open cutters in the second quarter. Part of this could be attributed to the AlleyCat’s strong man defense, which never gave Detroit handler’s very big windows to begin with. Indianapolis ended the second quarter ahead 15-11, and seemed in control of the game.
In the second half Detroit switched up their defense, and started to run a zone. Early on in the third quarter the AlleyCats had no trouble with it, playing indoors with no wind plus the 53 yard wide field meant there were holes all over the place, and Indiananapolis wasn’t bashful about putting hammers to opposite ends of the field. Occasionally they would float too long, but the AlleyCats athletic cutters made up for it, and they had a 23-17 lead.
Down 17-23, Dave Hochhalter of the Mechanix put up a perfect full field backhand huck to make the score 18-23. After that the Alleycats had an unforced error near their end zone, and Detroit scored on a nice play coming out of a timeout. With time winding down in the third quarter Indianapolis put up a swilly huck in the end zone for Cameron Brock, who wasn’t able to come down with it. Hochhalter, knowing time was running out, tapped the disc in at the back of the end zone with six seconds left, and put the disc as far as he could. Logan Vantrease caught the disc, and before he hit the ground he threw a chicken wing to the end zone, and a Mechanix cutter got there in time, scoring as time expired. The AlleyCats weren’t happy with the call, but it stood, and with the Mechanix receiving to start the fourth quarter they had some serious momentum for the first time in the game.
But, the Mechanix got broken at the start of the fourth quarter. After that the teams started trading again, there wasn’t another break until the AlleyCats converted after a long point to go ahead 27-22. The Mechanix were still throwing their zone, but the ‘Cats had no problem winding down the clock while working the disc through, over, and around the loose cup. With the extra space the 53 yard wide field provided, Indianapolis was even running four handlers for a lot of the second half against Detroit’s zone. Meanwhile Detroit’s offense was occasionally getting lucky. Hochhalter continued to put up throws into coverage, some of which were converted while others weren’t. Hochhalter was definitely putting up numbers for the Mechanix, looking to be a sparkplug for an offense that was often punchless without him. At times he took it too far though, especially given the wider field and indoor playing field, which should have made things much easier for their offense.
Down 22-27 Detroit worked it down the field, and one of their handlers found Mark Worsfold with a hammer, but Worsfold was unable to come up with the disc, and after that Detroit looked like they were just going through the motions, applying next to no defensive pressure. Indianapolis ended up winning 30-24.
Three players that stood out in particular for the AlleyCats were Keenan Plew, Travis Carpenter, and most of all Cameron Brock. None of them are especially tall players, but they all played big. Travis Carpenter was willing to bid for anything on defense. He got called for a couple fouls but also came up with a couple d’s. Cameron Brock had 14 scores all in all during the game, setting a single game AUDL record. Keenan Plew was making plays on both offense and defense for the ‘Cats.
For the Mechanix Hochhalter had some big plays and some big turns, he’ll no doubt enjoy playing with Ken Porter when he joins the team. Hochhalter also did a good job of getting open downfield on occasion. Mark Worsfold was getting open in the end zone pretty consistently for Detroit. He wasn’t too flashy, but he didn’t need to be. The good news for the Mechanix is that they seemed like more coaching could really benefit the talent on the team, and that the style of play could suit Porter when he suits up for them. The bad news is that they dropped a home game to an Indianapolis team that might only be the 4th best team in the conference, so the road only gets more difficult from here.
Logistically there were some issues. If the Mechanix had a gameclock on the screen to go with the score for the livestream that would be helpful. The camera work was mostly pretty solid, not NexGen level, there were moments when you couldn’t see what happened on a huck because the camera had difficulty finding the disc, but for the most part you couldn’t complain. There were a couple more injuries in the game than I’d expected, probably a combination of an early season game and playing on turf. Neither team ever threw double teams on defense. There were a lot of empty seats, it was hard to tell from the livestream but I don’t think there were more than 100 fans there.