By Larry Snyder
Westfield, Indiana – The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (8-4-0 regular season, coming off an exhilarating 21-20 victory at home last week against the Chicago Wildfire (7-5-0), travel to the Hoosier State Saturday, July 27, to clash with the Indianapolis AlleyCats (8-4-0). The donnybrook for the American Ultimate Disc League’s Midwest Division title gets underway at Westfield High School at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Max Sheppard and Thomas Edmonds spoke with Evan Lepler on the league web page about their performances in the win against the Wildfire. Edmonds said, “It’s not wrong to say that Shep and I had off games Saturday. I still think we played well, but both of us know we could have played better. We like to huck, especially to each other, and Chicago took that away in many instances and we had to adjust. I’m sure Indy will do their homework as well and do something similar. We’re ready for it.”
Sheppard added, “I know there is still more work that needs to be done in order for us to win against Indy. It wasn’t a pretty game we had against Chicago, but we pulled out the W.”
For the Black and Gold, it marks the fourth time in their five-year history they are participating in the Midwest finals. Their all-time postseason record is 3-3. Indy’s Green and Black are 2-4.
Indianapolis claimed the regular-season series 2-1 with both wins coming at JC Stone Field. The first was a 19-16 triumph Saturday, May 4, and the second was Saturday, June 29, a 23-20 conquest. Pittsburgh won on the road Sunday, July 14 in the season finale, 25-17. The A-Cats wrapped up 2019 with a 3-3 mark at home while the T-birds own a record of 4-2 on the road.
This week, Zakk Mabrey of Ultiworld.com wrote about the Midwest Championship meeting – “this game has a high potential to turn into a shootout. With outstanding offensive talent cleating up for both sides, a close, high scoring game seems likely.” He expects Travis Carpenter of the AlleyCats and Sheppard to be the difference-makers.
Thunderbird Players To Watch: I think these five control the T-birds fate. Sam VanDusen (38 assists), Anson Reppermund (24 blocks), and Mark Fedorenko (15 goals/14 assists/9 blocks) join Edmonds (42 assists/617 completions/31 goals) and Sheppard (57 goals/55 assists) in keeping the Pittsburgh’s offense aloft.
AlleyCat Players To Watch: This quintet makes the A-cats offense purr on all cylinders. Starting with Keegan North (23 goals/30 assists), you can add Levi Jacobs (27 goals/31 assists), Rick Gross (40 goals), and Cameron Brock (38 goals), to go along with Carpenter (54 assists/470 completions).
My Game Prediction: I believe these two combatants keep the fans on their feet for the full 48 minutes. The Black and Gold wrap it up 23-22 at the end. You can look at the available seats online.
Other Voices: There are a few who do not agree with me. The intent disc sentries at Massey Ratings project a close meeting with Indianapolis winning by a cat’s whisker 21-20 over Pittsburgh with the popular over/under breaking at 41.5.
Across the internet, the gracious and gregarious gamblers residing at the sports wagering website mybookie.com rank the Thunderbirds as -2 1/2 favorites on Thursday with their rowdy over/under sitting at an even 42.
Weather: Checking on all the updrafts and downdrafts, the barometric barons at weather.com predict mostly sunny skies for Saturday with a high of 85 degrees. When it is time for the opening pull, there is a zero percent chance of any possible rain. Winds come in from the southwest at seven to 11 mph. Ping the link for your update.
Tune In: If you can not make it across the turnpike to the Land of Hoosiers, you can watch all the end zone throws by the Black and Gold online at AUDL.TV (subscription service).
Next Up: The winner of this match travels to California to participate in the AUDL Championship Weekend on Saturday, Aug. 10, and Sunday, Aug. 11, at Foothill College Stadium, home of the San Jose Spiders.
From YouTube.com – The AUDL Channel – AUDL 2019 Playoffs: Chicago Wildfire Vs. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds — Game Highlights…