The entire 2016 AUDL schedule is finally out – all 15 weeks of action – so without further ado, let’s dissect each week that the New York Empire take the field and give you some food for thought each weekend that they aren’t in action.
Week 1 (Saturday April 2nd and Sunday 3rd)
The Empire don’t play this week, but it being opening weekend across the entire league, you should probably find some ultimate to watch. None of the Empire’s division opponents are in play, so instead pay attention to two AUDL-newcomers as the Austin Sol travel to take on the Dallas Roughnecks on Saturday.
Week 2 (Friday April 8th – Sunday April 10th)
Ottawa Outlaws @ New York Empire, Saturday April 9th
Starting the season off right, with a home game against the Ottawa Outlaws on . Last season, the Outlaws’ first in the AUDL, the Canadian’s proved to be a physical team with stringent defense. That’s an ideal way for the Empire to start the season, with their new players on offense facing an early test and the home crowd at their backs.
Week 3 (Friday April 15th – Sunday April 17th)
Montreal Royal @ New York Empire, Sunday April 17th
Another weekend, another home game for the Empire against a Canadian foe. For the Empire’s second game of the season, the Montreal Royal come to town. The Royal are coming off of a game the day before against the Philadelphia Phoenix and may be tired heading into another home game for the Empire.
Week 4 (Saturday April 23rd and Sunday April 24th)
Again, the Empire do not play this weekend but it is a busy weekend for reigning Eastern Division champion Toronto Rush. The Rush have become the Empire’s biggest nemesis over the past few seasons, with the Rush eliminating the Empire from championship contention, and are tested this weekend with a road trip to Washington D.C. to play the Breeze on Saturday, and then the Philadelphia Phoenix on Sunday.
Week 5 (Saturday April 30th and April 31st)
Philadelphia Phoenix @ New York Empire, Saturday April 30th
Another home game for the Empire, their third in a row to start the season! Last season, the Phoenix struggled at times to put together complete games which led to some lopsided results in favor of the Empire and other Eastern Division teams. This season, the Phoenix have been hard at work during the offseason to change their fortunes and build into a contender – this game is sure to test both teams.
Week 6 (Friday May 6th and Saturday May 7th)
New York Empire @ D.C. Breeze, Saturday May 7th
For the first time all season, the Empire will travel away from home to face one of their division opponents, and the D.C. Breeze are the first team up. This season the Breeze have added a ton of big names in ultimate, and have a total of 4 players traveling to London in June to compete in the WFDF World Championships. The Breeze are looking to unseat the Empire as one of the top teams in the Eastern Division as well, so mark this down as the best game yet on the Empire’s schedule.
Week 7 (Friday May 13th – Sunday May 15th)
New York Empire @ Toronto Rush, Saturday May 14th
New York Empire @ Montreal Royal, Sunday May 15th
Double-header time! The Empire get to go on a Canadian excursion, with back to back games in the true north. First up is a game against the Rush, and the Empire are sure to be hungry for blood. Time will not stand still during this game, look for the Empire to establish themselves as a real threat to what the Rush have assumed to be a comfortable position atop the Eastern Division. The next day, the Empire travel to Montreal to face-off against the Royal. Back-to-back games are always difficult on teams, but the 5 hour drive across Canada is sure to make things a little bit more difficult for the Empire. But nothing is sweeter than driving home with Tim Hortons coffee, some poutine, and two wins in hand.
Week 8 (Friday May 20th – Sunday May 22nd)
D.C. Breeze @ New York Empire, Saturday May 21st
After three games away from home, the Empire return for their seventh game of the season, meeting the D.C. Breeze yet again. Historically, the Breeze have been known for their flashy offense and with all of their new faces, that can be expected to hold true this season. All the better for the Empire to show-off the defense that Tom Gibbons has installed, with the always ferocious home crowd in the stands to see each jaw-dropping play.
Week 9 (Friday May 27th – Sunday May 29th)
Another weekend with no games for the Empire. As of this point, the Empire have seven games in the books, and 7 more games on the schedule through five weeks of play. By no means can the Eastern Division be decided as of this point, nor any playoff spot guaranteed. Even if the Empire find themselves undefeated, it is still possible for them to slip out of a playoff spot entirely. Weekends like this one will be useful for the team to recuperate and practice away any weak spots in their game. Also of note, the Breeze and all three Canadian rivals have games this weekend, and the results there could do a lot to disrupt the standings.
Week 10 (Saturday June 4th and Sunday June 5th)
New York Empire @ Philadelphia Phoenix, Saturday June 4th
Toronto Rush @ New York Empire, Sunday June 5th
For the second time this season, the Empire have two games over two days. First, they travel the short distance to Philadelphia to take on the Phoenix. Travel itself shouldn’t be much of an issue for the Empire here when they go to play their second game, with other NY professional teams often just easily hopping onto the Amtrak to get between the two cities. The second opponent may be of concern though, as the Toronto Rush visit the big apple for the first time all season. While they too are coming off of a game on Saturday, against the Breeze in D.C., the Empire’s home crowd is sure to see a great game.
Week 11 (Friday June 10th – Sunday June 12th)
New York Empire @ D.C. Breeze, Saturday June 11th
The last road-trip within the USA for the Empire during the regular season is a trip down to the nation’s capital to take on the Breeze. With this being the last weekend before WFDF’s World Championships take place, it’ll be interesting to see how many of the Breeze’s stars that are traveling to London are playing in this game. If the Breeze’s roster is short-staffed as a result, the Empire may find themselves with a much-needed win for playoff positioning.
Week 12 (Friday June 17th – Sunday June 19th)
Philadelphia Phoenix @ New York Empire, Sunday June 19th
At the 12-week mark in the season, and only three games left on the schedule, every game matters. In this home game against the Phoenix, the Empire will want to come out strong early on and swiftly close out a Philadelphia squad that played the day before against the Breeze. Playoff positioning in the Eastern Division is going to be tight at this point, and should this season hold true to prior seasons, the Phoenix will come into town looking to play spoiler on the Empire’s championship dreams.
Week 13 (Saturday June 25th and Sunday June 26th)
Ottawa Outlaws @ New York Empire, Saturday June 25th
Mark this one down on your calendars now, folks- it’s the last home game of the regular season for the Empire! The Ottawa Outlaws travel to New York before facing the Philadelphia Phoenix the next day, and with it being the last home game of the regular season there is no reason for the fans not to pack the stands and cheer the Empire to victory. In sports, winning at home is seen as a great indicator of a team’s overall success, and a win here would go a long way for the team.
Week 14 (Friday July 1st – Sunday July 3rd)
New York Empire @ Ottawa Outlaws, Saturday July 2nd
New York Empire @ Toronto Rush, Sunday July 3rd
The schedule-makers were cruel to the Empire this season. Not only are they away from home for most of 4th of July weekend, but they have to spend it up in Canada. And they are really twisting the knife with these two games falling as the last two on the Empire’s schedule. A win against the Outlaws on Saturday is a necessity; a loss this late in the season against a team that the Empire hasn’t shown much trouble dispatching in the past could hurt them heading into the playoffs. While against the Rush, a win is certainly the desired outcome but so too is discovering flaws in their game should the Empire again meet them in the playoffs. In both games, with the playoffs so close, escaping with no injuries is a win for the team regardless of box score.
Week 15 (Friday July 8th – Sunday July 10th)
For the last game of the season, the Empire find themselves watching at home as some of their divisional rivals play. Those games could potentially determine playoff spots and seeding, so it will be important to follow along. On Saturday July 9th, the Philadelphia Phoenix play the Ottawa Outlaws and then on Sunday July 10th, the Phoenix travel to Montreal to face the Royal. In the other three divisions of the AUDL, there are potential division-deciding games taking place across the three days of play that are sure to be exciting as well.