It’s win or go home for the Rumble as they head to Washington DC Sunday to face the Current.
Though both teams play other games Saturday, the victor of Sunday’s contest advances to the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Both the Rumble and Current hold 3-5 records, and have split the season series 1-1. In the first match-up, the Rumble took advantage of some big D’s as well as a few late Current turnovers to win 17-14.
The second match saw a number of key Rumble playmakers — Chris Mazur, Dan Heijmen and Joe “Smash” Anderson — go down with injuries. Although the Rumble fought through those injuries, they ultimately fell 19-17 in overtime. Ben Faust was also inactive for that game.
The Rumble and Current have been two of the most equally talented teams in the league. In fact, the statistics over their first two match-ups have been nearly identical. Both teams have over 20 D’s, share a completion rate of over 90%, and have scored over 30 goals. In addition, both teams have MVP candidates playing in the Current’s Alan Kolick (10 G, 30 A) and Rumble’s Chris Mazur (23 G, 23 A).
This time around though, the Rumble are determined as ever to win, and trying to play with as little pressure as possible. “The more emphasis you place on one game, the more likely it is that you raise individual expectations beyond your capabilities, which might make for an amazing play, but risks sound Ultimate fundamentals,” Faust said. “Our mental toughness and ignorance has benefited us all year. We are quick to forget the bad and quick to file away the good. We live for the moment and put 100% trust in our teammates and our system. We keep it simple: run hard and make the right throw. If we do that everything else will fall into place.”
According to Mazur, the key to a victory on Sunday will be playing a complete game on both sides of the disc. “Possession is paramount on Sunday,” Mazur explained. “Keeping the disc out of the hands of the very high-powered and high-flying DC offense will put us in the best position to win. Expect the offense to do everything we can to keep our defensive studs on the field. Sunday will be won by the defense.”
Even though Mazur seemed to injure his ankle badly in the previous game, he has had two weeks to recover and feels confident he will be ready for the game. “I’m feeling optimistic that [the fans] won’t even notice an injury come game day,” he said.
The game is shaping up to be packed with highlight plays and intensity as both teams try to continue their season. Look for the Rumble to strike early in each quarter to set the tone and play hard defense on Kolick and Sean Keegan (13 G, 23 A). Buy tickets here or watch the game on MLU Live beginning at 4 pm (Eastern).
It comes down to this. Winner moves on, while the loser goes home.