Allison Park, Pa. – Despite thrilling back-to-back goals less than thirty seconds apart near the end of the fourth quarter, the rally was not enough by the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (0-3) as they lost 19-16 in their American Ultimate Disc League home opener Saturday, May 4 against the Indianapolis AlleyCats (3-1).
The Black and Gold got the disc back after Indianapolis put up their 19th goal at 1:44 of the fourth. Four quick throws were all it took on the drive down the field concluding with Owen Watts hitting Mark Fedorenko who relayed the disc to Jimmy Towle in the end zone at 1:18 of the fourth.
Sam VanDusen put the disc back in play with his pull to the AlleyCats. Next, Max Sheppard collected the second of his team-leading two blocks of the contest and sent the T-birds back on offense. Anson Reppermund took the pass from Thomas Edmonds and turned and fired the disc to the outstretched arms of Chris Graber. It brought the scoreboard to a 19-16 deficit as the AlleyCats ran out the clock at J.C. Stone Field, part of the North Park complex.
Indianapolis built a 7-2 lead by the end of the first quarter on an overcast evening with light rain. The Black and Gold fought back in the second with goals from Fedorenko, Alex Thomas, Edmonds, Adam Burgess, Watt, and a pair of scores by Dylan Best. It was 12-9 on the score sheet at the half. Keegan North, Rick Gross, Travis Carpenter, and Keenan Plew kept the Indy offense on the move throughout the match.
Edmonds took charge of the box score with four assists, 53 completions, 47 catches, and three goals. VanDusen led in points played with 27 and minutes played with 43. Best, a rookie, was chosen the Player of the Game with his contribution of three goals and three assists. He played for the University of Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur program and was a member of the Team USA U-24 squad that won the gold medal in 2018 in Perth, Australia.
Pittsburgh head coach Pat Hammonds was away, so assistant coach David Lionetti took command of the sideline. The Thunderbirds made 195 of 209 throws for a 93 percent completion rate. The Black and Gold had six blocks on defense. Final stats were unavailable for the AlleyCats.
My Play of the Game came when the T-birds closed the gap to 14-12 at 1:10 of the third. Indianapolis gave the disc back on a throwaway and Pittsburgh worked the middle of the field and eventually down the sideline closest to the bleachers on 11 throws. With the twelfth pass, Fedorenko connected with Edmonds with a short strike that walked the tight-rope in front of the Pittsburgh bench.
It was my first chance this season to see the T-birds live, and I would like to thank the owners Dr. Tracy and Amy Neuendorf along with general manager Andrew Gardner and associate general manager Mel Callahan for having me at the matchup. The in-game host Bill Holman, public address announcer Matty Frances, and music DJ Michael Joseph made the game enjoyable for all of the families present. I highly recommend an AUDL game with the Thunderbirds to be on your to-do list this spring and summer.
Next Up: Pittsburgh keeps the homestand rolling when they welcome Midwest Division opponent, the Chicago Wildfire (1-0) Saturday, May 11, to JC Stone Field. Everyone can be part of the opening pull at 6:00 p.m.
Ultimate Clipboard: The voice of the Thunderbirds Matt Weiss is back to broadcast all of the home games on AUDL.TV. He has done almost 30 games over five seasons, keeping the T-Birds faithful informed and entertained.