After an exciting exhibition showcase tournament in Colombia, the Los Angeles Aviators were back to business as they kicked off their 2022 AUDL campaign against the fiery Salt Lake City Shred this past Saturday in Occidental College’s Jack Kemp Stadium. The Shred took advantage of some uncharacteristic mistakes on behalf of the Aviator’s O line to take an early 5-1 lead. Despite the deficit, the Aviators climbed back to make it 8-11 at half.
The second half was a different story, as the Aviators were able to go toe to toe with the Shred, sparked by a monster layout grab and subsequent assist by rookie Everest Shapiro off a deep look seemingly intended for Sam Cook. With the clock winding down, the Aviators D-line began to employ an interesting strategy where the disc was intentionally skipped off the ground out of bounds, pinning the disc on the sideline in their own half of the field in hopes to catch the Salt Lake City O-line off guard with a double team on their handler. I reached out to Everest Shapiro, who had this to say about their late game defensive strategy:
“...we threw a couple double teams mid game to switch things up and force them out of their comfort zone, but near the end as we were down a couple breaks, our goal was to force a quick turnover that we could quickly capitalize on to regain tempo…we saw that Salt Lake was content with running out the clock with about 2-3 minutes let in the game, and we knew we needed to pressure them more. We pinched in, making the resets harder but also [gave] up the downfield more. They punished us with a hammer goal, but that was better, as it allowed us a hold and a subsequent opportunity for a short field sideline double team, with the intention of limiting their time-killing swings.”
Before the Aviators were able to regain momentum, the Shred were able to survive the contest by a margin of 22-25. The rocky start for the Aviators proved to be the difference in the game, but despite the loss, the Aviators showed they had the grit to fight back and keep things interesting into the final minutes. A shining take-away from the game was rookie Everest Shapiro’s debut performance, where he racked up 236 receiving yards, 3 assists, and 2 goals. The Aviators now look forward to their matchup against the San Diego Growlers on May 14, where they hope to bounce back and build on this past weekend’s performance.