Ultimate frisbee shines in South Philly as Phoenix beat Tampa Bay in home opener

The professional AUDL team now plays across from the sports complex.

Veteran Phoenix Eric Witmer picks up newbie Phoenix player Nate Little in celebration after their 21-16 win over the Tampa Bay Cannons

Veteran Phoenix Eric Witmer picks up newbie Phoenix player Nate Little in celebration after their 21-16 win over the Tampa Bay Cannons

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The Philadelphia Phoenix have arrived. At their Friday night home opener, Philly’s professional ultimate frisbee team trampled over the Tampa Bay Cannons, winning 21-16.

It was an appropriate grand entrance for the 2021 season, which sees the Phoenix playing inside their namesake city for the first time. Home field is now the South Philly Super Site, directly across the street from the sports complex.

Founded in 2013, the Phoenix is 1 of 22 teams in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), which runs June through August and culminates in a championship weekend.

After some heavy afternoon thunderstorms, the skies opened up to a beautiful spring evening, paving the way for hundreds of spectators to pack the stadium. Fans of all ages sat in classic bleacher benches, framed by the backdrop of Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.

Phoenix Scott Heyman makes a huge jump to make a catch despite the best efforts of a Tampa Bay defender

Phoenix Scott Heyman makes a huge jump to make a catch despite the best efforts of a Tampa Bay defender

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Showing off in front of the home crowd, the Phoenix played hard.

On the field, team director of operations and starting player Mike Arcata was lead scorer with three points. New player Nate Little, a Philadelphian, scored the last point of the game, among several other memorable plays.

The South Philadelphia SuperSite sits directly across from the main sports stadiums

The South Philadelphia SuperSite sits directly across from the main sports stadiums

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Quick 101 on AUDL ultimate, which is kind of like a cross between soccer, basketball, and American football:

The game is played on a field that’s 80 yards long, bookended by 20-yard end zones. There are 7 players per team, and the point is to make a catch in the opposing team’s end zone.

You can’t run with the disc in hand — once you stop, you have to establish a pivot foot — so the frisbee must be passed from player to player. You also can’t hold onto the disc for more than 7 seconds.

Quarters are 12 minutes long, with a 15-minute halftime.

The Phoenix play home games at the South Philadelphia Super Site, which sits directly across Packer Avenue from the sports complex

The Phoenix play home games at the South Philadelphia Super Site, which sits directly across Packer Avenue from the sports complex

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In South Philly, the June 4 halftime featured a mini ultimate game between Masterman School and Science Leadership Academy. The high school teams were pretty evenly matched, and they finished in a 1-1 tie.

Masterman School and Science Leadership Academy played a quick 5-minute game during halftime

Masterman School and Science Leadership Academy played a quick 5-minute game during halftime

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For other kids in the stands, the Phoenix set up an activity space dubbed “The Nest.” It was stocked with puzzles, games, and coloring stations, and was monitored by Kelly Fleury, a local preschool educator.

CJ Coltman, 6, colors in The Nest during the Phoenix home opener

CJ Coltman, 6, colors in The Nest during the Phoenix home opener

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Adults with the proclivity for beer could pick up cans from nearby Second District Brewing, and sandwiches were also available.

Second District Brewing offered locally made beer to fans at the game

Second District Brewing offered locally made beer to fans at the game

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Sweettooths of all ages got to partake in custard from startup Poppa’s Custard — think the creme inside of your favorite donut — who passed out samples and sold jars throughout the night.

Josh and Christen Johnson, of Chestnut Hill, own Poppa's Custard Company

Josh and Christen Johnson, of Chestnut Hill, own Poppa's Custard Company

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After the game, fans were invited to join the players at the Black Cat Tavern for drink and food specials.

Johnny Goodtimes (center) is a new co-owner of the Phoenix

Johnny Goodtimes (center) is a new co-owner of the Phoenix

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The Phoenix host the New York Empire on June 11. Tickets ($12) are available online.

Thunderstorms cleared just in time for the June 4 game on Packer Avenue

Thunderstorms cleared just in time for the June 4 game on Packer Avenue

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Fans line up to buy a ticket or season pass

Fans line up to buy a ticket or season pass

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Kids were invited onto the track to race for a prize between the 1st and 2nd quarters

Kids were invited onto the track to race for a prize between the 1st and 2nd quarters

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Head athletic trainer Josh McCune helps Phoenix player James Pollard stretch after Pollard fell during a play

Head athletic trainer Josh McCune helps Phoenix player James Pollard stretch after Pollard fell during a play

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Fans react in the stands as they watch the Phoenix play the Tampa Bay Cannons

Fans react in the stands as they watch the Phoenix play the Tampa Bay Cannons

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Sandwiches were available at halftime

Sandwiches were available at halftime

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The Philadelphia Phoenix has gear for all seasons

The Philadelphia Phoenix has gear for all seasons

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Former Phoenix intern Harry Chace mans the disc golf hole as fans "Huck a Buck." If you land a mini disc in the hoop, you win a frisbee signed by all the Phoenix players.

Former Phoenix intern Harry Chace mans the disc golf hole as fans "Huck a Buck." If you land a mini disc in the hoop, you win a frisbee signed by all the Phoenix players.

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The Cannons put a double team defense on Phoenix player Mike Arcata at the start of the fourth quarter

The Cannons put a double team defense on Phoenix player Mike Arcata at the start of the fourth quarter

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An official explains a call to the coach of the Tampa Bay Cannon

An official explains a call to the coach of the Tampa Bay Cannon

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Phoenix Sean Mott jumps for the disc as he's grabbed at by a Tampa Bay defender

Phoenix Sean Mott jumps for the disc as he's grabbed at by a Tampa Bay defender

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Fans congratulate the Philadelphia Phoenix after their win

Fans congratulate the Philadelphia Phoenix after their win

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