New York will conclude its season-opening three game home stand against the rebuilt Philadelphia Phoenix tomorrow afternoon. Both teams are coming off home matchups against Montreal last weekend, with Philadelphia dropping its season opener on Saturday in double overtime and New York throttling a fatigued Montreal squad on Sunday.
Last season, Philadelphia went 0-14 while ranking last in the league in goals scored and goals allowed. Coming off a three year stretch that saw just three total wins, management set out to re-shape the franchise in the offseason, and those efforts paid immediate dividends in the opener, despite the negative result. Philadelphia led Montreal by multiple goals for essentially the entire game before faltering and allowing Montreal to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. The teams needed double overtime to break the deadlock, where Montreal finally punched in the winning score after five turnovers in the sudden death point.
Of the 14 Philadelphia players to start on the offensive or defensive line in that game, only one was a member of the 2016 Phoenix. However, that group still included 9 players with past AUDL experience, including Nicky Spiva, a gold medal winner on last year’s U.S. mixed national team, and Matt Esser, the star of Philadelphia’s most recent playoff-bound squad in 2013. The rebuilt roster has already clearly changed the dynamic of the Phoenix, and they will be looking to chalk up their first win on Saturday.
New York, meanwhile, is coming off a strong performance in which the defense allowed only eight goals and the offense did not give up a break, scoring on all ten opportunities. They have beaten Philadelphia in all twelve matchups in franchise history, but cannot afford to take the new-look Phoenix lightly after last week’s competitive matchup against Montreal. Both teams will be missing a key player due to World Games commitments–Chris Kocher for New York and Nicky Spiva for Philadelphia–as the 20-person U.S. squad is traveling to Colombia this weekend. Sean Keegan (injury) and Ben Jagt (college commitments) remain out for New York, but the rest of the team is available for Coach Tom Gibbons, as they look to move above .500 before their first road game of the season.