Pittsburgh Thunderbirds Vs. Madison Radicals 2019 AUDL Opening Day Game Notes

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Madison, Wisconsin – The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds open their fifth campaign in the American Ultimate Disc League on Saturday, April 20 against the 2018 defending champion Madison Radicals (1-0). The confrontation gets underway at 6:00 p.m. CDT at Breese Stevens Field.

After making the playoffs their first three years, Pittsburgh missed the postseason in 2018 with a record of 4-10-0. The Black and Gold gave fans a look at a brighter future when they assembled a three-game winning streak under first-year head coach Pat Hammonds to close out the season.

Back to lead the attack on the score sheet is Jimmy Towle with his 42 goals and Max Sheppard who chipped in 31. Sheppard was the assists leader with 64, and was a member of the AUDL Steel Spirit squad, an award given to the athletes who participated in all of their team’s 14 regular season contests.

Sam VanDusen was second on the helper’s list with 51 while leading the Birds of Thunder with 13 blocks. Returning this season to bolster the defense is Pittsburgh’s all-time leader in blocks with 86, Anson Reppermund.

Helping with the three-game turn around to conclude 2018 was Noah Robinson and Chris Graber who combined to deliver six assists and 26 goals. Robinson comes from the University of Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur ultimate disc program.

This season four players are providing the leadership as team captain. They are VanDusen, Sheppard, Towle and David Vatz. Six-year veteran Mark Fedorenko spoke with Louis Zatzman on the AUDL website, “The big thing is the leadership for the team has changed hands. They’ve really done a good job of getting the lesson across this year on how to stay focussed when things are going wrong. They’ve really helped develop some pillars to come back to during games, some things to individually focus on to make the team better.”

My player to keep an eye on is Owen Watt, who in 2018 contributed 23 goals and 20 assists in 10 games. Andrew Gardner, T-birds general manager talked with me last year about Watt, “Owen has just been phenomenal for us. He’s been a key cog of our O-line, making good decisions and fitting seamlessly with our team. There’s always a ton of pressure on the O-line as they are expected to score 100% of the time, but Owen seems to embrace that pressure and has really settled into a reliable offensive weapon for the T-Birds through the half-way point of the AUDL season.”

Your 2019 Pittsburgh Thunderbirds:

#00 – Justin Kinkead
#1 – Max Sheppard
#2 – Jonathan Mast
#3 – Dayne Meyer
#4 – David Vatz
#5 – Jesse Evans
#6 – Anson Reppermund
#7 – Mark Fedorenko
#8 – Thomas Edmonds
#9 – Patrick McMullen
#10 – Adam Burgess
#14 – Kenny Furdella
#15 – Dylan Best
#19 – Jordan Robarge
#21 – Noah Robinson
#22 – Owen Watt
#23 – Jack Hefferon
#24 – Alex Thomas
#32 – Steve Mogielski
#48 – Jimmy Towle
#51 – Marquis Cofer
#55 – Chris Graber
#66 – Nick Gigliotti
#72 – Robert Halvorsen
#77 – Mohamadou Diatta
#83 – Steve May
#95 – Sam VanDusen
#99 – John Buss

Radicals Ramblings: Madison claimed a 22-20 victory on the road in their season opener Sunday, April 14, at Indianapolis against the AlleyCats. Adam Drews, Andrew Meshnick, Avery Johnson, and Pat Shriwise collected three goals apiece for the Teal Blue and Chartreuse. Kevin Brown had six assists while Kevin Pettit-Scantling and Sterling Knoche each tallied three blocks.

Adam Ruffner rates the Radicals in second place in this week’s AUDL Power Rankings on the league website. He likes the fact “Madison converted 73 of their offensive possessions into scores” in their opener. The crew at Massey Ratings bumps the Boys from the Badger State to the five spot in their weekly survey while the observers at Ultiworld.com keeps the Radicals in the second slot.

Weather: The outlook at weather.com shows Saturday with clear skies with 64 being the high and 54 the low by 9:00 p.m. Winds out of the northwest to southeast at two to three mph and a 45 percent chance of rain by the end of the contest.

Next Up: The T-birds keep the bus on the road for their second matchup of the season as they head to the North Star State Saturday, April 27 to face the Minnesota Wind Chill at Sea Foam Stadium, part of Concordia University in Saint Paul. The clash gets underway at 6:00 p.m. CDT.

You can catch the Black and Gold on AUDL.TV, select ‘Pittsburgh Thunderbirds’ as your preferred team, and gain access to every contest. Ticket packages you will enjoy for upcoming home matchups are available here.

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