Radiance Power Through Heat to Win Against Gridlock
by Clayton Carey
Raleigh, NC—Saturday, May 18. The Raleigh Radiance (1-1) took down previously undefeated New York Gridlock (2-1) in their second home game of the season. The Radiance took an early lead and never looked back, dominating their way to a 20-11 win. The Radiance’s win is the second largest victory margin in the PUL season, behind Medellin Revolution’s 10-point win over the Atlanta Soul in week one.
Sweltering heat in Raleigh didn’t stop fans from filling the stands. They were treated to an excellent first quarter from the Radiance, who started with a clean hold and a break to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Excellent defensive effort and throwing smarts from Lisa Pitcaithley and aggressive cutting from Lindsay Soo and Jenny “Jwei” Wei ballooned the Radiance’s lead to 6-2, and they finished the quarter up 6-3.
The second quarter began with a clean hold for Gridlock, led by the calming presence of Tulsa Douglas. Gridlock’s flexible offensive structure, after some Radiance turnovers, kept the Radiance defense honest while getting large yardage gains. Driving cuts from Gridlock appeared to tire out the Radiance defense, and Gridlock was soon only down 6-5 after a Douglas break throw to space to Amy Zhou. After a few long points with turns and chances for both sides, Raleigh extended the lead back to 8-5 after a 50-yard throw from Jessi Jones to JWei in traffic. Some miscues and misthrows from Gridlock seemed to be a product of fatigue and perhaps some sweaty hands, and the first half ended 9-6 after a goal was disallowed from Raleigh for improper timeout usage.
The second half began with a clean hold for the Radiance with a break to follow, showcasing a balanced offensive attack of patient endzone and lethal deep threats—extending their lead to 11-6. The halftime break seemed to have benefitted both teams, but Gridlock seemed to have a slight edge until a short pull gave Raleigh a one-throw opportunity to go up 13-8. Intense defensive pressure from Radiance on the following point seemed to have little effect as the Gridlock offense put together another clean hold, followed by a long point won by the Radiance on a perfect throw from Georgia Tse to Amanda Murphy, making it 14-9.
Offensive struggles for Gridlock snowballed to start the fourth and Raleigh capitalized on each one, scoring three straight breaks and putting the game out of reach at 17-9. A set of holds for each squad brought it to 19-10. Both teams had their struggles as fatigue was clearly influencing decisions and execution. Even in the late minutes of the fourth quarter, Gridlock played well in their endzone sets, but it wouldn’t be enough and Raleigh would take the game, 20-11.
Coach Eileen Murray was understandably frustrated after the game but still in good spirits. “I can’t pinpoint exactly what went wrong,” she said. “I’ll need to watch more of the film. But I do know we did not move the disc laterally well enough, and as well as we are used to.”
Asked about the adjustment by her squad to the professional aspects of playing in the PUL, Murray commented that, “The pace is definitely one spot that we’ve had to be the most aware of. There is very limited time between points.”
Gridlock (2-1) will host the Austin Torch (2-1) on June 1.
Teammates Lindsay Soo and Becky Widmayer were all smiles and were proud of the adjustments made by their team after their close loss to Medellin Revolution (5-0). “It was evident today that we trusted each other with our cuts and throws, though we still have some room to continue to grow,” Widmayer said.
Soo also commented, “We really consciously settled into the pace of the game, and that was something Coach Eddie really emphasized for us. We reached deeper into our depth today too, and that helped our sidelines tune into our adjustments even better. Our mental game was great today.”
Raleigh travels to back-to-back away games, taking on the Nashville Nightshade (0-1) on June 8 and the Columbus Pride (1-2) on June 9.
Clayton Carey has lived and played ultimate in North Carolina for seven years. He does his best to be a friend and ally to all, and consciously tries to address the bias his privilege confers.