The final week of the Athletes Unlimited had, in the words of Stefon, EVERYTHING. We saw dominant performances by the game’s best, last second saves and OT winners. In a fitting ending, it came down to the final game of the season to crown the individual champion. I had the pleasure of being in attendance for Championship Sunday when it was all on the line and, sheesh, it certainly did not disappoint.
We were all looking forward to this new iteration of professional lacrosse, and it was everything that fans and players alike could ask for. As much as it pains me to say, let’s dive in and recap the final weekend in Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse’s inaugural season.
Taylor Cummings (Gold), Caylee Waters (Orange), Kady Glynn (Blue) and Kylie Ohlmiller (Purple) took the helm as captains for the final week of the season. While these four captains were at the forefront of the AU Leaderboard, they were not the only ones in the hunt for the individual championship. Entering Week 5, there were 12 players within 400 points of Taylor Cummings at the top of the leaderboard.
Game one of the weekend was a sign of things to come and started off with an absolutely dominant performance by Team Cummings, beating Team Ohlmiller 13-6. The usual top performers came out to play with Cummings’ first two picks in the draft, Marie McCool and Sam Apuzzo, following in their captain’s footsteps netting hat tricks in the opener.
Team Cummings continued their success in their second against Team Glynn. This day two matchup had major leaderboard implications as eight of the top 10 athletes in the rankings suited up in the battle of Gold and Blue. The teams split quarter victories in the first half, before Team Cummings pulled away in the second, only allowing Team Glynn to score once the rest of the way. This way thanks in large part to the play of Britt Read in cage.
The individual championship ultimately came down to the final game of the weekend when Cummings took on Team Orange captained by Caylee Waters. Coming into the contest, Waters trailed Cummings by 187 points for the top spot on the leaderboard.
Waters’ squad came out to play for their keeper and won both of the first half quarters. The Team Orange defense utilized a zone to slow down the high powered offense of the Gold squad, allowing Team Cummings to score only one goal in the half. Waters also made a few one-on-one saves against Cummings and entered the second half behind the leader by only 138 points.
Team Gold’s defense locked down and it’s offense came alive in the fourth quarter scoring four goals thanks, in large part, to those aforementioned early selection, McCool and Apuzzo. The final two-point goal of the season off the stick of Apuzzo sealed the victory for Team Gold and the individual championship for Cummings.
The win adds to and already cluttered trophy case for the Cummings. The Maryland alum adds the medal to her three Tewaaraton Trophies, three NCAA Midfielder of the Year awards, a 2017 World Championship medals, and a plethora of other accolades. Cummings will enter AU Season 2 as one of the most decorated athletes in the sport’s history.
I have to say, I was pretty ecstatic to see two goalies end up in the top 4 at season’s end. Apuzzo’s big weekend (521 points!) helped her climb precipitously in the final weekend of the season. Apuzzo had a 3-9 season record before going undefeated with Team Cummings. The BC grad had been near the top of the statistical leaderboard for a majority of the season. If I were a betting man, I would have her high on my list of early favorites to win the individual title heading into next season.
Following the final game’s conclusion, Becca Block was name the Defender of the Year. This was not a surprising selection, as Block was the first defender selected in all five drafts during the season.
After being crowned the Athletes Unlimited Individual Champion, Cummings spoke about what the inaugural season of the AU meant to the players and for the growth of the sport.
“Last summer we were sitting on our couches watching the men play. To be out here with such a strong group of women, who are role models, who have taken this sport to the next level, is such an honor. I’ve loved my entire experience. I love playing along side every single one of these players. This is not a medal for me, this is a medal for all of us for taking the sport to the next level.”
Epoch Moments of the Week
We had to have at least one of the Champ’s goals in the top plays of the week. I sound like a broken record, but Cumming’s ability to get through traffic and utilize her out-of-this-world stick skills makes her the best on earth.
Kylie’s ability to use her defenders position to her advantage is just one of the reason why she’s one of the best players in the game. She did this on Becca Block, the league’s DEFENDER OF THE YEAR. Kylie is unreal.
I had to have this play in here, even though it technically wasn’t a play since it was after the whistle. This play is named after Treanor’s new colleague in the Cuse Athletics Department hallway. After watching this goal the amount of times I have, Treanor may have usurped naming rights in my mind.
We are used to seeing Goalmiller BTBers on the regular this season, but have you thought about THROWmiller? Yeah, it doesn’t rhyme as well, but it was such a good pass that it has to be allowed.
This was such a rocket from Izzy McMahon, and at the end of the shot clock no less. The former USC Trojan was a late addition to the AU roster, and I’m sure glad she was because we got a number of these this season.
Yes, this is the third #Goalmiller highlight on the list, but we have to wait about a year to watch them again so bear with me. This goal also shows the versatility in Kylie’s game. Every play on here is different.
Kady Glynn finished in the top 4 of AU Leaderboard for a reason. She made big plays, all season. Arguably none bigger than this save in the waning moments of her team’s last game to send it to overtime.
That save in the last play by Glynn sent the game to OT, so naturally her squad would win it on a similar free position shot in the extra period. Alyssa Parrella had a fantastic rookie campaign and capped it off by drilling this goal to get the wynn for Team Glynn.
Nicole Levy has done with ALL SEASON. She has had so many highlight goals that I’ve lost count. She can score from anywhere, so one thing I know you shouldn’t do is leave her open for a clear step down from beyond the 8-meter.
Sam Apuzzo absolutely went off in the final quarter of the season to get Team Cummings the victory and Taylor the individual title. I said it in the recap, but Sam is one of my early picks for the individual champs heading into year two. Not going to lie, I was at the game and jumped out of my seat when she hit this.
Looking Ahead to Season Two
CEO and co-found, John Patricof confirmed on Monday that we will get a season 2 of Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse next year. It is yet to be announced when the season with take place. The league will have to plan around the upcoming World Championships set to take place in Towson, Maryland next summer. Whenever the AU athletes hit the field again, we all can look forward to more fantastic lacrosse in season 2.