Torch Earns First Win Over Nightshade
by Rachael Romaniak
Austin, TX—Saturday, May 11. Both Nashville Nightshade and Austin Torch came into the game seeking their first regular season win. Torch would get it, successfully defending their home turf with a final score of 23-14. Despite the score, the game was highly competitive with the Torch’s consistency and star power outshining their opponent.
Nightshade took an immediate lead after generating a run-through block and converting an around-break for the first score of the game and the first break point. The next four minutes of the first quarter featured two polished offenses that moved the disc quickly to open receivers.
While Nashville showcased its depth and diversity of talent, the Austin squad relied on two feature offensive-line players. The first two Torch scores came from the connection of #6 Julia Schmaltz to #4 Sharon Tsao. After the blistering opening pace, the remainder of the first quarter slowed significantly as the defenses settled in. Nashville was the first team to adapt, throwing their handler defenders into a saggy defense to clog the upfield space. Not only did this slow the Torch offense down, but it also spurred a similar change in the Torch’s own defensive scheme. As the wind picked up, both teams struggled with overthrowing teammates in the downwind direction, which slowed the pace of play considerably. Torch managed to win some of the long points and came away with two breaks to end the quarter up 5-3.
Torch started the second quarter willing to challenge the deep space with hucks. Nightshade shifted their downfield defense to take away the deep looks. In response, Torch transitioned to more under cuts. Nightshade responded yet again to try to combat the Torch’s small-ball game. But Torch wasn’t done. As they approached the endzone, the Torch handlers effectively sold the upline fake in order to move their marks to open up easy break throws. In the final point of the second quarter, Austin led 9-6 and had an opportunity to break. On Austin’s third possession of the point, they took a timeout to bring in their offensive line. Just one possession later, Nashville took a timeout of their own in order to get their offensive line back on the field while also forcing Austin to switch to their defensive line. Eventually, the clock ran out before either team could score.
After halftime, both teams looked refreshed physically and strategically. The biggest improvement evident in the third quarter was the deep throws executed by both teams. They successfully adjusted as the wind died down to find deep receivers in stride.
Overall the points in the third quarter were much cleaner, with fewer turnovers than the first half and no break points. Players settled into their matchups and Nashville reigned in the Torch’s star players. The Torch entered with a three-point lead and exited the same way, up three with the score 13-10.
The Torch would go on to get three consecutive breaks in the fourth quarter, flexing their offensive muscles by scoring on the open side with long throws and inside break throws. Nightshade finally ended the streak by playing their defensive line for an offensive point for a change of pace and some fresh legs. But time was mostly up. Thanks to a hammer score buzzer-beater, Austin walked away with its first victory.
Rachael "Romy" Romaniak is the current coach for Lady Forward Ultimate and James Madison Memorial High School. Romy played in college for Wisconsin Bella Donna and has played club for Madison NOISE, Madison Heist, and Madison Lockdown.