Pittsburgh Thunderbirds Look to Break an Ugly Streak in Madison

by Larry Snyder

Madison, WI – The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (2-2-0) are on to the Badger State for a return American Ultimate Disc League duel with the Madison Radicals (0-3-0) Sunday, June 4, at Breese Stevens Field. The season’s opening week rematch gets underway at 5:00 p.m. CDT. The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds are 0-9 all-time at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, Wisconsin.

Last week, the Philadelphia Phoenix (1-4-0) collected a one-point victory, 20-19, and the rights to the Commonwealth Cup against the Black and Gold at Highmark Stadium. Pittsburgh fans remember the Cup started in 2021, and the T-birds took possession of the Cup in July 2021 with a 23-20 triumph over Philly at J.C. Stone Field in North Park. The two squads did not meet in 2022, and this Phoenix victory was the only time the away team prevailed to capture the Cup.

There were a pair of controversial moments late in the second quarter. Philadelphia’s Sean Mott threw a 31-yard pass to Jordan Rhyne for a goal in the back of the end zone at 1:58 and was run into by the Thunderbirds’ Pete Zaccardi. Rhyne pursued Zaccardi to protest, and the Phoenix’ Calvin Trisolini blocked Zaccardi’s exit from the field so he had to face Rhyne. James Pollard attempted to calm the situation, but it continued with the T-birds’ Alex Thomas and Mott possibly having words. All of the vibrant discussion led to the game ejection of Zaccardi (three goals and three blocks this season) by officials.

Another call was at the end of the second. Coming on the ninth play of a Phoenix drive, Trisolini dished a pass to Pollard in the middle of the end zone. The Thunderbirds’ Wyatt Brooks blocked the shot but, in the process, tumbled backward and made slight contact with Pollard. It appeared to the television commentators to be a clean encounter, but after a discussion by the officials, a foul resulted, and Philadelphia received one more chance to make a play. Pollard standing on the Pittsburgh goal line, hit a four-yard pass to Mott to increase the score 10-7 in favor of the Scarlet, Vermilion, and White.

Max Sheppard contributed four goals, with three coming during an intense 7 to 4 run in the fourth by the Thunderbirds. Second-year player Dylan Best supplied four assists, and the best handler in the AUDL Central Division, Jonathan Mast, delivered five hockey assists. Eight different players provided one block each on defense. Jimmy Towle and Clint McSherry returning to the field will help this week.

Reviewing the AUDL roster report for Friday, June 2, has T-bird John McMonigal doubtful for this meeting. Reid Duncan, Noah Celuch, Elliot Hare, Alex Thomas, Connor Newell, Ryan Kindell, Dylan Best, and Matt Reynolds are listed as out. Those not rostered are Joe Molder, David Snead, Charlie Vukovic, Ben Evashavik, Connor Tipping Kunwoo Shin, Jacob Anthuvan, Andrew Yurchak, Sam VanDusen, and Alex Warrington. I have some concerns about Best, Celuch, Vukovic, Anthuvan, and VanDusen not being available.

From 2023 AUDL YouTube: Philadelphia Phoenix At Pittsburgh Thunderbirds – Full Game Highlights – May 27, 2023…


Madison is coming off a 20-18 loss in their home opener to the Chicago Union (2-1-0). The Radicals own a team scoring an average of 18.67 points per contest and yielding 20 points to the opposition.

Head coach Tim DeByl discussed the close defeats in 2023 with Ryan Baker on the AUDL website, “The goal is always to create some separation earlier in the game, rather than waiting until the last six minutes. We’re a really young team and you can see that at the end of games. The attitude has been great. Everyone feels like we are more talented than we’ve played. We’re not executing well enough.”

Anthony Gutowsky leads the teal blue and chartreuse with nine goals, while Henry Goldenberg keeps the disc in flight with 10 assists. Andrew Meshnick helps the defense with four blocks, and Luke Marks brings three stops to the box score.

Returning to the AUDL roster report, Madison’s Brian Hart, Tom Annen, Jacob Wham, James Sykora, and Austin Johnson are out of the matchup. Not rostered to face the Black and Gold include David Nester, Ken Adams, Mac Weber, Jack Nelson, Max Sample, John Tan, Matt Grinde, Jake Rubin-Miller, Kevin Pettit-Scantling, and Kai Marcus.


Broadcast: You can catch this road match on the subscription streaming service AUDL.tv.

Updates: Thunderbirds Twitter At @PGHThunderbirds – Facebook At pghthunderbirds – Instagram At pghthunderbirds

Weather: The Weather Channel has your current outlook on the skies here on the web.

NEXT UP: The T-birds are back along the riverbank of the South Side Sunday. June 11, to face the Detroit Mechanix (0-2-0) at Highmark Stadium. The two squads line up for the first pull at 2:00 p.m. EDT.