University of Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur

by | January 20, 2011, 8:43am 0

Pre-Series Record: 24-7 Series Record: 13-3 End of Season Standing: T3 at College Championship, eliminated in Semifinal (9-15 to Carleton)

Coaches: Josh Suskin, David Lionetti, Dave Vatz

Recent History:

2010 Tournaments: Queen City Tune-Up, Stanford Invite, Centex, Easterns

In 2010, Pittsburgh climbed higher than ever before, reaching the National Semifinal for the first time in program history. Not half bad for a team that, until 2003, had never qualified for Regionals.

But while Pitt has come a long way from its status as a Metro East cellar dweller (and this was back when the Metro East was bad), members of the current team might not even know it. Since first reaching Nationals in 2005, En Sabah Nur has qualified every year, meaning that not one of Pitt’s players has seen his season end anywhere other than at the Championships.

Aside from a hiccup in 2008, Pitt has improved its final place at Nationals every year. In 2005 and ’06, En Sabah Nur finished tied for 14th. In ‘07, Pitt won its first ever Nationals Pool Play game, advancing to pre-Quarters before losing to Georgia 13-15 and eventually finishing tied for 9th. In 2008, the team again exited in pre-Quarters, this time suffering a 12-15 loss to Carleton and placing tied for 11th. 2009 saw Pittsburgh break through to the Quarterfinal after pre-Quarters win over in-region rival Cornell, but the team would again lose to Carleton, going down by a score of 14-16.

In 2010, things weren’t different, but they had changed: Pitt’s season once again ended with a loss to Carleton, but Pitt had also broken through to the Semifinal round. In their loss, Pitt allowed CUT to jump out to a big lead early that En Sabah Nur could not overcome. Had Pitt been at full health (senior Chris Brenenborg was unable to play, and a few others were injured as well), perhaps things could have been different, but in the end the story remained the same: Carleton had once again ended Pittsburgh’s run at Nationals.

Roster Turnover and Offseason Club Experience:

Pittsburgh’s losses from 2010 are offensive handler Kyle Baynes along with Brad Bellinger, Ari Weitzman and Bob Liu, all of whom received significant burn on defense.

Due in large part to a strong recruiting pipeline with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia high school ultimate programs, Pitt has built up the depth necessary to fill the roles of departed impact players. In 2010, three freshmen were among Pitt’s starters, and the Metro East Freshman of the Year was a Pittsburgh player for the third time in four years (2010 Isaac Saul, 2009 Alex Thorne, and 2007 Brenenborg).

For club, Pittsburgh had one player, 5th year Eddie Peters, play with Club Quarterfinalist Southpaw, while others played with Roots of Rhythm (captained by Saul), Swagger U, and others around Mid-Atlantic Region.


What makes Pitt so effective against many teams is their defense. On top of doing a good job of cutting off up line and short cuts with physicality, Pittsburgh forces teams to swing the disc by poaching lanes, and once it reaches the sideline, they keep it there with a well-executed trap mark. Also, Pittsburgh defends the vertical stack well by setting up a defender in the force, break, and deep lanes. While many teams attempt this strategy, they often stumble after the first cut, especially if the offense floods a certain area. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, does a good job of maintaining this look through the first few cuts. Pittsburgh also uses its athleticism well after a turnover, striking quickly with hucks to fast, tall receivers.

With Baynes being the only player to graduate, Pittsburgh’s offensive personnel is likely to stay the same, meaning that there will be steady handlers centered around Brenenborg, who is one of the best throwers in the college game. Anytime a handler can so consistently create break throws and hucks, an offense is going to be dangerous.

Fall 2010:

This fall, Pittsburgh attended a tournament in Buffalo,NY, the UOA Big East Championships, and UOA Nationals. The team’s only loss was in UOA Nationals Pool Play to Virginia Tech, a team that Pitt then beat handily in the Finals the next day.

2011 Schedule:

Pitt will attend The Stanford Invite, Easterns, and one more before the Series if there are quality teams attending and the distance is not limiting.

2011 Outlook:

Pittsburgh was one of the best teams in the country in 2010, and there is little to suggest that things will be different in 2011. Now more than ever before, the team is aware of its potential, but the taste of last year’s loss to Carleton will need to stay fresh if it that potential is to be realized.

While Pitt has never won a regional title, getting out of the Ohio Valley Region will not be a problem. Once in Boulder, results will come down to focus and execution. Should Pittsburgh falter, it will be caused at least in part by a mental lapse. But if the team takes care of business, it could very well take the next logical step in its short but remarkable history.

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