By Larry Snyder
Allison Park, Pa. – Coming out from halftime down by a goal 11-10, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (now 1-3) set thrusters to maximum on Saturday, May 11, to claim their first victory this season as they defeated the unbeaten Chicago Wildfire 21-18 at JC Stone Field, part of the North Park complex.
Pittsburgh put up four unanswered goals to begin the third quarter and owned a 16-13 lead to open the fourth against Chicago. Jack Hefferon recorded his two blocks in the third, and both led to Thunderbird scores. After the first block, on the tenth pass of the drive, Sam VanDusen went across the field to Chris Graber in the end zone at 7:39. It took five throws on Hefferon’s second stop for VanDusen to hook up with Alex Thomas for the goal at 4:52. The Wildfire did not get back to the score sheet until 3:48 in the third after a T-birds turnover, Seth Weaver working a short field, got the disc to Ross Barker.
There was excitement at the end of the third as the fans thought Pittsburgh had put up their 17th goal with the clock winding down. A long throw by Anson Reppermund bounced from one T-bird to another in the end zone but officials disallowed the score as time had expired.
When the Black and Gold got the disc back in the fourth, Max Sheppard did not waste any time as he hauled in back-to-back goals. The first was on a throw from Thomas Edmonds at 10:37 to give the Thunderbirds a 17-13 advantage. The second was at 8:29 when Jonathan Mast hit Sheppard running out of the press box side of the end zone to make it 18-14. The Thunderbirds final goal came at the end of a 10-pass drive with 36 seconds left as Andrew Burgess got together with Graber for the 21st point.
The Wildfire (2-1) brought the fight to the T-birds throughout the first half as the contest was tied 5-5 at the end of the first. During the second, Matthew Rehder tallied three goals. Helping out were Tommy Gallaher, Jack Shanahan, and Jeremy Burril as they each provided a goal.
Sheppard kept the Pittsburgh faithful happy with a total of four goals and joined Anson Reppermund and Hefferon with two blocks apiece. Thomas Edmonds wrapped up the evening with 56 catches and 58 completions. VanDusen delivered three of his game leading four assists in the explosive third frame.
For Chicago, Rehder supplied seven goals. Pawel Janas found the open man and added seven assists along with his 60 catches, 65 completions, and 38 minutes played. Seth Weaver and Drew Swanson gathered two blocks apiece.
Our final check of the box score reveals the Black and Gold connecting on 294 of 305 throws for a 96 percent completion rate while the Blue and Orange collected a 94 percent completion mark. Blocks were close as the Wildfire held a nine to eight edge but lost the turnover battle 19-15.
My T-birds Play of the Game came in the third after a Steve Mogielski block. VanDusen got the disc and fired it back to Mogielski as he sprinted uncontested into the end zone at 6:30. Mogielski picked up Player of the Game honors at the end of the night.
Chicago earned a Play of the Game nod with five seconds left in the matchup as Janas threw a long strike to a falling Burril in the end zone to give the Boys from the Windy City their 18th point.
NEXT UP: The third matchup of Pittsburgh’s four-game homestand is Saturday, May 18, when they take on the Detroit Mechanix (0-3) at JC Stone Field. The opening pull between these two American Ultimate Disc League adversaries is 6:00 p.m.
TIP OF THE CAP: Helping the T-birds with their Game Day logistics at JC Stone Field is Pittsburgh Moxie, the Steel City’s Girls Youth Club team for ultimate disc. The program was founded in 2007 and has been to USA Ultimate’s Youth Club Championships since 2008. Open sessions are Monday, June 3, and Monday, June 10 at Quarry Field.
GAME DAY OUTREACH: Sarah Boal, Assistant Vice President for Disaster Response and Strategic Initiatives, for the Brother’s Brother Foundation had an information table at Saturday’s meeting. She spoke about the organization’s work during the pregame introductions. The BBF is a Pittsburgh-based international charity and has contributed over $4 billion of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, textbooks, food, seeds, and other humanitarian supplies to people around the world in 149 countries since 1958.
ULTIMATE CLIPBOARD: You can stay on top of ultimate disc in the Burgh with the voice of the Thunderbirds Matt Weiss who broadcasts all home games on AUDL.TV (subscription service).
Top Of The Article Photo By Larry N. Snyder – All Rights Reserved