By Larry Snyder (topoftheinclinesports.com)
Elmhurst, Illinois and Westfield, Indiana – The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (8-4-0) had to win one of their two remaining road games this past weekend to be part of the Midwest Division playoff bracket in the American Ultimate Disc League.
Pittsburgh’s response to the formidable challenge was to douse the Chicago Wildfire 29-16 on Saturday, July 13 at Langhorst Field and follow it up with a 25-17 triumph Sunday, July 14 against the Indianapolis Alleycats at the Grand Park Events Center.
Viewers of the AUDL Game of the Week on WatchStadium.com saw the T-birds seize an 8-3 advantage at the end of the first. The Black and Gold did not surrender their authority over the scoreboard for the rest of the meeting. Coming out of halftime behind 13-8, the Wildfire (7-5-0) did not record a point from 9:47 of the third till 11:32 of the fourth. While Pittsburgh surged ahead 9-1 in the third, Chicago kept it even at 7-7 in the last frame.
After Saturday’s victory, the Men of the Steel City locked up second place in the Midwest behind the first-place Alleycats and earned the opportunity to host the Men of the Windy City at JC Stone Field this weekend in the playoffs.
From The AUDL Channel On YouTube.com – AUDL 2019: Pittsburgh Thunderbirds at Chicago Wildfire — Game Highlights…
From Sunday’s opening pull, Indianapolis (8-4-0) matched Pittsburgh’s pace and was down only one, 6-5 after the first. Heading into the intermission, the Thunderbirds were up 10-7, leaving the A-cats a chance to claw their way back into the game.
The talons of the Thunderbirds took hold in the second half as Pittsburgh outscored Indy 15-10. Co-captain Max Sheppard claimed four of his nine goals in the third while Kenny Furdella and Chris Graber contributed two scores apiece in the fourth. The Black and Gold’s overall offensive productivity was 84 percent to the Green and Black’s 50 percent.
With the takedown of the Detroit Mechanix 24-23 in Sudden Death double overtime Saturday, July 6, Pittsburgh wrapped up the 2019 campaign with a three-game win streak on the road. Head Coach Pat Hammonds flight crew began the season 0-3 and finished strongly by winning eight of their last nine.
Birds Of Thunder Highlights: Sheppard became the fifth player in league history and the second in 2019 to surpass 50 goals and 50 assists in the regular season. He finished with 57 goals and 55 assists with 19 of those scores and 24 of his helpers coming over the three-game win streak on the road.
Thomas Edmonds made the box score his own as he delivered a combined total of eight goals, seven assists, and 77 completions in the conquests over Chicago and Indy. The University of Pittsburgh product is seventh in the AUDL with 517 completions.
Edmonds commented to Evan Lepler on the league site about the on-field chemistry he has developed with Sheppard. He said, “I feel like we’re similar players. We know what each other wants.”
Sam VanDusen was third on the squad with 33 assists, collecting eight against Detroit and Chicago, during the push at the end. He averaged 5.91 seconds of hang time over his 196 pulls in 10 contests.
Anson Reppermund collected 24 blocks for the Black and Gold defense with eight or one-third of his total coming over the three consecutive road victories. He is third in the league in stops.
Jimmy Towle and Alex Thomas both played in 11 matchups and amassed 10 blocks apiece. Towle protected the flock by assembling six of his stops over the last three matches.
REMINDER: The Thunderbirds welcome the Chicago Wildfire Saturday, July 20, to the North Park complex for the AUDL Playoffs. The opening pull between these ultimate disc rivals is 6:00 p.m. Check-in at the Pittsburgh web page to gather up your tickets.