By Larry Snyder
Allison Park, Pa. – The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds earned their third consecutive victory Saturday, May 25 with a 24-17 triumph against the Minnesota Wind Chill (3-4) at JC Stone Field. The Black and Gold (3-3) closed out their four-game homestand in May with a record of 3-1 and moved into fourth place in the Midwest Divison of the American Ultimate Disc League.
Both combatants came out in the first quarter with a fiery intensity, seeking to gain an early advantage. The Wind Chill hoped to avoid a two-game losing skid while the Thunderbirds tried to keep the momentum on their side, after winning two matchups in a row. Both teams traded goals back and forth in the opening 12 minutes with the T-birds owning a slim 4-3 edge to begin the second quarter.
Pittsburgh unleashed a scoring barrage as head coach Pat Hammonds crew assembled an 8-3 streak, giving the Men of the Steel City a 12-6 lead at halftime. Max Sheppard gathered four of his team-leading six goals on the night in the second. Sam VanDusen claimed three of his four assists at this time and Tyler DeGirolamo put up two of his three helpers.
Thunderstorms arrived in North Park at the start of the third quarter, and the match deferred for 90 minutes because of lightning. The reprieve did not extinguish the determination on either squad because when play did resume, Pittsburgh, on a last second buzzer-beater, concluded the third with an 8-7 lead in goals and a 20-13 advantage on the scoreboard.
Jimmy Towle collected the first goal for the Black and Gold on a throw from Thomas Edmonds at 10:54 of the third. Towle picked up the eighth score as time expired when several players went up for the long pass from VanDusen in the end zone and the disc bounced off outstretched fingertips to Towle. This was my Play of the Game.
Mark Fedorenko picked up two of his three goals in the third while Edmonds assembled three of his game-leading six assists in the third frame.
During the fourth, the two teams rounded up four goals each. The Wind Chill went on a 3-0 run with goals from Bryan Vohnoutka, Mitchell McCarthey, and Brandon Matis to end the game 24-17.
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Minnesota kept trying to push their way back into the match as Vohnoutka supplied four goals and accumulated a +5 in the plus/minus column. Alex Jirele and Michael Jordan contributed three scores apiece for the Metallic Blue, Black, and White.
Providing three assists each to the box score were Josh Klane and Jesse Greenberg. Klane was also central to several drives with 37 catches and 47 completions. The trio of James Kittlesen, Matis, and Jordan dealt two blocks apiece.
Key Numbers: The Thunderbirds hit 317 out of 331 throw attempts for a 96 percent completion rate. The Wind Chill wrapped up the evening with a 90 percent completion mark. Pittsburgh led in total blocks 15-10 while Minnesota committed 23 total turnovers to the Black and Gold’s 20.
Deuces were wild on the defense as Anson Reppermund, Adam Burgess, DeGirolamo, and VanDusen accumulated two blocks each for Pittsburgh. Edmonds checked in with 64 catches and 65 completions, followed by Jonathan Mast with 34 receptions and 41 completions. Keeping the pencils of the statisticians busy with three goals each were Robert Halvorsen and Fedorenko.
Snyder Stat: I have a deep interest in hockey, where stats include giving an assist credit to the player who helps get the puck to the player who passes it to the player who makes the goal. Even though this is not an official statistic for AUDL, I think it is important to acknowledge the player who was the leader for the T-birds with “hockey assists” against the Wind Chill – the pass that leads to the Goal Thrown pass (assist) for the score: Towle with six helpers.
New Faces: Eike Cramer played 12 minutes and picked up his second goal in the third contest of his rookie campaign with the Thunderbirds.
Jasper Tom, a former captain for the ultimate team at Carnegie Mellon University, made his Pittsburgh debut against the Wind Chill. He had 10 catches and 10 completions in 17 minutes played.
Next Up: The T-birds load the bus and head to the Great Lakes State to clash with the Detroit Mechanix (0-5) on Saturday, June 1, at Grand Rapids Christian High School, 2400 Plymouth Avenue SE. The opening pull in this rematch is 5:45 p.m.
Coming soon is the inaugural AUDL All-Star Game Saturday, June 8, 2019, at the home of the Madison Radicals, Breese Stevens Field in Wisconsin. This premier event gets underway at 7:00 p.m. CDT.
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