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Thunderbirds Defeat WindChill in Statement Win, 26-22.

By: Elliott Diamond

 

PITTSBURGH, PA – It didn’t take long.

0:15 seconds into the game after receiving the opening pull, the Minnesota Wind Chill tallied a point with a big huck to the goal line from Josh Klaine. A quick pass to an unguarded teammate and the 2nd place Wind Chill were on the board.

 

The Thunderbirds didn’t take long either. Pat Earles, who was seemingly always in  power-position, launched an even longer throw to Mark Fedorenko in stride to answer 15 seconds later.

 

Next point, Minnesota hucked again, this time 50-yds downfield for the goal. It was going to be a game that utilized the deep look.

 

The ‘Birds came back with and efficient and patient cross-field offense using the full width of the field for swings and resets. The play culminated with Thomas Edmonds finding Ethan Beardsley streaking to the side of the end zone with a short forehand pass.

 

Recent Minnesota high school graduate, Jack Lokowich, played in his 2nd AUDL game this afternoon (the first was Saturday evening against the Detroit Mechanix). One point later, with Pittsburgh on serve, he bobbled a sure goal to put the Wind Chill up a break and was unable to secure the disc through ground contact. The play was called back on a Pittsburgh marking violation, and multiple stall/foul calls later, Minnesota turned the disc over and the Thunderbirds worked it down the field to tie the score at 3’s.

 

The entire 1st quarter was back and forth. Both offenses struggled with fundamentals, including misread passes and turfed throws, but both teams were able to recover the disc from a defensive turnover and score on the second or third time around. The Thunderbirds finally took the lead by one with the first defensive break of the game at the end of the 1st; a booming cross-field hammer from Tyler DeGirolamo to Fedorenko with :02 left in the quarter. Minnesota’s attempt to score at the buzzer fell incomplete off a mid-field hammer into a big crowd in the end- zone. Pittsburgh held a 5-4 lead after one quarter of play.

 

The biggest lead by either team in the 2nd quarter was two goals, but the lead never stood for long. Minnesota never took back the lead, but they were able to tie the game on several occasions.

 

Midway through the quarter, Pat Hammonds made a ridiculous acrobatic play to intercept an upline pass on the Wind Chill sideline. Once he came down, he threw a sharp, curling, outside-in backhand to Jon DeAmicis for a fast score. but it was called off. Coach Hogan had signaled for a timeout before Hammonds’ pass went up, negating the goal. The timeout was called to put the O-Line on the field, standard procedure for Hogan, whose track record for successful conversions in these situations is near perfect. The air was a little tense, Hammonds and DeAmicis most likely feeling some mistrust. The offense took possession and Earles found Max Thorne a few yards up the sideline, and Thorne promptly found Jon Mast cutting to the corner of the end zone up the same sideline for a goal, avenging the D-Line’s efforts. Earles, Thorne, and Mast used approximately 5 yards of field width to make the goal possible.

 

Several points later, Beardsley had the opportunity to throw his 2nd assist of season, but his backhand sailed too high for wide-open Fedorenko, out of reach, His frustration immediately after the throw was visible, and it was clear that the frustration lingered for some time. Beardsley, not known for his throwing prowess but more for his downfield dominance, contributed two more goals in the game.

 

With :10 left on the clock, Fedorenko launched a full-field backhand to DeGirolamo downfield. DeGirolamo made a play for it at the goal line but got caught up in his defender and a defensive contact foul was called. The play resumed on the goal line, with Earles picking up the disc and DeGirolamo setting the vertical stack in the end zone. Everyone knew the play. The crowd, the offense, the defense. DeGirolamo easily shook his defender and made a move to the breakside where Earles’ pass was already awaiting for him.

 

With :05 seconds left in the half, Sam Van Dusen ripped the pull two yards from the opposing end zone line, nearly a 90-yard pull. With time for one centering pass, Minnesota’s last-second throw only reached midfield. The 2nd quarter ended with Pittsburgh leading 12-10.

 

The 3rd quarter started out fast; both teams played long with hucks downfield to their star receivers.

 

Late in the 3rd, the Thunderbirds defense began to buckle down. Two breaks resulted from the relentless D-Line pressure from Hammonds, DeAmicis, VanDusen, Sheppard, and Towle in the deep space and Morgenstern in the backfield on his mark.

 

With one minute left in the 3rd, the Wind Chill received the pull and immediately sent a huck down the far sideline into a mixed crowd of black and white jerseys. VanDusen got up first and swatted it away, but it was batted just a few yards down the field toward the goal. An awaiting Wind Chill receiver made a second effort catch mid-air and landed over the goal line to score. With :34 seconds left, the score read 18-16 Pittsburgh.

 

On the next play, Pittsburgh received the pull and was able to center and reset the disc to about midfield. Earles tried to find Thorne with a long, stinger of a forehand in stride, but it was too far out of reach for Thorne to make a play on it. The Wind Chill handler picked it up with :02 seconds left and attempted to launch it downfield for a goal at the buzzer. However, it only made it to midfield and Mast brought it down to end the quarter.

 

The 4th quarter opened with atypical turnovers from the Thunderbirds, including a Mast mis-throwing a routine around-his-mark backhand break to Thorne and Vatz dropping a simple reset pass. Minnesota broke on the point and brought the score to within one, 18-17 Pittsburgh.

 

On the next point, it only took four throws for the ‘Birds to let us know that they were not fatigued. University of Pitt teammates Towle and VanDusen connected for a goal up the sideline, staying behind Minnesota’s defense the length of the field. The Wind Chill answered with five passes of their own to stay one back, 19-18 Pittsburgh.

 

On receiving the pull, Earles could not find Thorne on a long flick huck, and the Wind Chill picked up, backed against their end-zone with a break opportunity to tie the game. Their handler put up a hasty and lofty huck 50 yards down the field, but it fell incomplete as Towle and VanDusen teamed up to bat it down. After a reset pass from Xavier Maxstadt, Carl Morgenstern roped a slight outside-in backhand to Sheppard who patiently waited for his defender to misread it and jump early. Sheppard secured it for a point. 20-18 Pittsburgh.

 

Up on offense, Minnesota’s Burkhardt put a huck out to no receiver in particular, most likely the result of a miscommunication downfield. Maxstadt picked up and swung it to VanDusen who ripped his signature backhand to Trimble at the goal line. He landed with a foot outside the goal and immediately was marked by a Wind Chill defender, but he stepped through the mark and threw a flick to DeAmicis, who was completely unguarded. DeAmicis finsihed the point with his patented front flip. 21-18 Pittsburgh.

 

From there, the Thunderbirds controlled the game. Break after break, the ‘Birds climbed ahead 26-21 before Minnesota stopped the bleeding and got one back. With 1:30 left on the clock, the Thunderbirds received the pull and played a technical game of “keep-away” against the Wind Chill to run out the clock and secure the victory. The Wind Chill didn’t let up when it became obvious that the game was over, and their constant pressure kept the Thunderbirds active in finding resets passes to keep draining the clock.

 

All in all, it was a very back-and-forth game between the two teams. As the offensive and defensive did their jobs, a pattern emerged: the offense would turn, then the defense would turn, and the offense scores upon recovery to hold the point. Each O-Line was broken 8 times, and each O-Line turned it over and recovered to score the goal 7 times. The parity between the two teams made for an exciting match.

 

Roster Notes:

  • Alex Thomas, Kenny Furdella, Jack Hefferon, Jake Rovner, and Anson Reppermund were all in Colorado for the USA Ultimate Pro-Elite Challenge, thus missing Sunday’s game. They plan to be back in the lineup for the remainder of the season.

 

  • Speaking of club ultimate, Reppermund, who play with Pittsburgh Alloy (mixed) in the club scene last year, made a move Chicago mid-season for work. Since relocating, he has picked up with Madison Club, an elite men’s team that features many of the same players as the Madison Radicals.

 

  • Tyler DeGirolamo returned from Europe, where he recently won a gold medal on the Men’s Team in the World Championships of Beach Ultimate with Team USA. Sunday’s game against Minnesota marked his 4th game of the season, one plagued with groin issues. He left the game in the second half with what seemed like another complication to the injury. He did not return to the field.

 

  • Tad Wissel appeared in his 4th game of the season, his first since June 4th, when he and several players drove from Pittsburgh to make the away game against the Indianapolis AlleyCats. His energy is certainly felt by teammates and opponents.

July 14, 2017 | News, Pittsburgh, Team, Thunderbirds, Ultimate | 0

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