Pit at Mad Recap

Ryan Baker, Journalist

This past Saturday’s game at Breese Stevens Field featured multiple storylines and ended with the Radicals winning 21-20 over the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds, putting Madison at 6-4 on the year. 

The first storyline is the last-second win that Madison was able to secure. This game followed the trends of the year for the Radicals. They got out to a lead, dropped some points at the end of each quarter, and gave up a run in the third quarter. However, this time, they closed the door on Pittsburgh. 

“We never make it easy. I think we once get a lead, we tend to take our foot off the gas, make one mistake, and then those mistakes compound themselves. I think we're a momentum team, and when our momentum goes the wrong way, we tend to struggle,” said coach Tim DeByl.

The first quarter ended with Pittsburgh taking a 6-5 lead because Madison gave up too much cushion with seconds left on the clock. That allowed for the Thunderbirds to move the disc up the field without any tension and beat the buzzer with a goal. 

Other storylines came into play in the second quarter. As Madison went on a four point run, one franchise record was tied, and one UFA record was broken. After a jump ball in the endzone fell to the ground, Joe Leibforth sent a huck into the endzone with Andrew Meshnick and Anthony Gutowsky in the area. Gutowsky was able to come down with the disc for the score over three guys, tying the Radicals franchise regular-season goal record at 39. 

Two points later, Joshua Wilson sent a pull out of the side of the endzone, pinning Pittsburgh. After some intense pressure from the Radicals defense, Jake Carrico corralled in his second Callahan of the season and the third of his career. Only one name in UFA history has three career Callahans. That name is Jake Carrico. 

Coming out of half up one, Madison’s O-line went out and Kai Marcus threw a huck to Gutowsky. Gutowsky was able to track the disc over his head and snag the score over two Pittsburgh defenders. That goal cemented Gutowsky in the Radicals history books, breaking Colin Camp’s regular-season goal record. A career-high seven goals put Gutowsky at 44 on the year, the most in the entire UFA. 

“It means a lot to me, especially not being around the city for a long time. Everyone is supporting me being a frontrunner of the team at this young of an age. I'm just looking forward to the rest of the season,” said Gutowsky. “I just run around. They were really forcing me deep at the beginning of the game, and so I got a lot of easy chip shots. At the end, I was just looking at open space like I do every game. Get open and it's right space, right time, just using my legs.”

After history was made, Madison extended their lead to three, but saw that go away quickly with their third quarter struggles. A 4-1 run for Pittsburgh, with another buzzer beater, tied the game at 14. Fast forward to the end of the fourth quarter, where Pittsburgh tied the game up with under a minute left. Marcus took a shot to Jack Nelson with time winding down, and Nelson was able to gain some yards because no one was around. Then, with seven seconds left, Nelson dished it to Gutowsky to take the lead.

“I saw the shot go up, and I did a couple checks. Everyone else seemed to be worrying about the next guy and not me, and I started milking it. I was able to work it up all the way to the end there and didn't really feel any pressure,” said Nelson.

Nelson has been an integral part to the O-line this year, especially after being gone all of last season due to injury. Regardless of the win and the success, head coach Tim DeByl’s message all season of taking it game by game is truly engrained in Nelson.

“Honestly, it's been amazing. The team has been supportive. They've seen the work that we have been putting in, and knowing that I'm back to myself gives them the confidence to play their games as well,” said Nelson. “Every game that we've talked about all season is one game at a time. So at this point, we're zero and zero the rest of the season. I think if we come in with our mindset, and we can play a full game, I don't think anyone's going to beat us the rest of this season.”

Overall, it was a solid game from Madison, but some concerns remain. The runs need to be stopped. The foot needs to stay on the gas the entire game. Also, the team needs to get healthy. A collision between Max Sample and Ted Schewe in the fourth left Schewe in some pain. Along with that, Marcus came up hobbling on several points. 

“I think we have a lot of injuries right now, and we're going to have to work really hard to get ready for this next game. It feels good to get one out of the way. I know Chicago is going to bring a great game, a great team, and we're going to have a great game against them,” said DeByl.

This Friday, the Radicals will take on the Chicago Union at Breese Stevens Field. A win would place Madison in a phenomenal position to return to playoff action for the first time since 2018.

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