By Larry Snyder
Pittsburgh, Pa – The Thunderbirds (4-6-0) protect the Nest at J.C. Stone Field Saturday, July 16, as the American Ultimate Disc League South Division leaders the Carolina Flyers (9-1-0) touchdown in the Steel City. The Black and Gold’s confrontation with the AUDL defending champions begins at 6:00 p.m. EDT.
During the first contest of a three-game homestand last week, Pittsburgh assembled a comeback in the second half to defeat the Detroit Mechanix (0-9-0) 22-19. The Tbirds swept the season series, and they are 16-0 against the Men of Motown since joining the league.
Followers of the Mechanix had their hopes raised when Detroit claimed a 10-9 lead going into halftime. Joe Cubitt told Evan Lepler on the league website, “Man, what a painful loss. Halftime we were up 10-9, and I was thinking to myself that this was the one. In the second half, Pitt came out hungry and their coach put together a strong defensive strategy to slow our offense down.”
The Thunderbirds stormed the box score with a 7-4 run in the third quarter. A Play of the Game candidate came on Pittsburgh’s fifth possession when Max Sheppard took a 23-yard pass from Connor Newell and sent the disc on a 48-yard crossfield hammer to CJ Colicchio. He tossed a quick eight-yard pass back to a sprinting Sheppard for the score at 6:05.
Another outstanding play came on the Tbirds’ seventh point in the third. Andrew Thompson took a 16-yard swing pass from Jimmy Towle and threw a 62-yard huck to rookie Matthew Montera in the end zone at the 46-second mark. The Men of Steel capitalized on four turnovers by Detroit in the third to turn the match around.
Thunderbirds’ fans saw them stay beyond the reach of Detroit with a 6-5 run in the fourth. Newell supplied his two goals of the meeting to start the final frame. Sheppard’s play was essential to the victory as he ended the evening with four goals and three assists. Nine different players stepped up to put a block on the score sheet.
It will take the intensity of that second-half comeback over all four quarters for the Tbirds to forge a win against Carolina this week. I think a 23-22 upset could be in the tea leaves.
Per The AUDL YouTube Channel – Detroit Mechanix At Pittsburgh Thunderbirds: Week 11 Game Highlights…
FLYERS FLIGHT PLANS
Carolina soars across any box score as they are second in the league, with 238 goals. They also own the AUDL’s season-best red-zone conversion rate of 85.16 percent. The Boys from Durham keep the disc in their possession as they are seventh overall in the least amount of turnovers.
Head Coach Mike DeNardis has a new leader for his offense this season. In just his second season, Alex Davis is leading the AUDL with 45 goals. Six-year veteran cutter Jacob Fairfax is next with 27 scores. Eric Taylor, a third-year handler, brings 29 assists to the clipboard.
In his Week 11 Power Rankings on the league web page, Adam Ruffner points out Carolina is permitting 15 goals per contest over their last five matchups. Fairfax has ten blocks, while Charlie McCutcheon and Tim McAllister each have seven stops.
Promotion: This weekend the Thunderbirds teams with the charity Early Recognition Is Critical (ERIC) to bring Educators Appreciation Day to J.C. Stone Field. The folks at JD’s Dahntahn Dogs have the best game food for the fans. Look for your seats on the Tbirds website.
Broadcast: Play-by-Play announcer Matt Weiss and sideline reporter Rachel Stone look at every huck on the subscription streaming service AUDL.tv.
NEXT UP: The Black and Gold close out the 2022 campaign Saturday, July 23rd, against the Central Division leading Chicago Union (7-1-0) at J.C. Stone Field. This showdown sees the first pull getting underway at 6:00 p.m. EDT.