On Friday, July 30, five Sidewinders took the field on the pro stage for the very first time. Arizona's Alex Daniels (#33), Betsy Basch (#19), Helen Eifert (#46), Jade McLaughlin (#14), and Kaetlynn Daoust (#17) laced up their cleats to play at Seattle's Memorial Stadium. They were joined by players from across the Western Ultimate League (WUL) to make up The West. Two non-WUL players with ties to Arizona ultimate were added to round out The West's roster. Jamie Eriksson and Melissa Merrick repped the Sidewinders while on the field.
Unlike Seattle Tempest -- which has existed as part of the American Ultimate Disc League's (AUDL) Seattle Cascades for multiple years -- many of the teams in the WUL weren't established until 2019 or 2020, and without a brother AUDL team. The 2021 AUDL season started in full swing in April, as did practices for the WUL's Seattle Tempest. This was not the case for most other WUL teams, including the Sidewinders. As a result, no team was ready to travel or host Seattle Tempest for a friendly match before the next official WUL season in March 2022. As a compromise, individual players representing Arizona Sidewinders, Utah Wild, Los Angeles Astra, and San Diego Superbloom, met up in Seattle to play Tempest together as "The West."
Despite only warming up together for two hours before the game, The West put up a fight against The Tempest. Opening with a clean hold, The West traded quick points with Tempest, ending the first quarter tied at 5-5. At the start of the second quarter, Tempest used a smart timeout to sub in an O line on a turn and secure their second break of the game. The West kept it within two, ending the half at 8-10. Down two breaks, The West continued to stay within two scores. Using a force middle zone on defense, The West slowed Seattle's quick offensive points, but Seattle was still able to capitalize on the lack of chemistry between West players and continue to hold their lead. Late in the third quarter, The West took their first time out of the game and used it to secure their first break. Starting the last quarter at 12-14, points start dragging on longer with more turnovers. The West managed another break, bringing the score within one (14-15) but Tempest ultimately pulls away ending the game at a close 14-16.
It was not a loss, however, for the Arizona Sidewinders. Of the 14 points scored by The West, ten involved at least one Sidewinders player on the assist or score, six of which had both. Additionally, the experience itself was a win for the players represented. "Grateful doesn't even begin to cover it. The opportunity to play with talented players from across the WUL against a powerhouse Seattle team was incredible. I am honored, humbled, and fired up for next season after a taste with The West!" shared Daoust.
If you missed the live stream of the game on Friday, you can still watch it here. Keep your eyes out for more opportunities to watch The Arizona Sidewinders play in 2021.