This weekend, Carnegie Mellon University played host to the first annual Steel City Showdown. The weather held up great, sunny with temperatures in the mid-40s to low-50s all day and basically no wind.
On to the games.
Game 1: Carnegie Mellon University (13) vs. University of Pittsburgh (9)
Carnegie Mellon starts off on D and after a sloppy first point with nine total turnovers, senior Benjamin McGrath found sophomore Reid Almand in the endzone for a break. The next eight points were much more disciplined, as the two teams combined for just three turnovers, with Pittsburgh breaking back twice to go up 6-4. Thanks to a layout D on the goal line by Ben Clark to save half, Yuk would put in their O point for 6-5. On the next point, Ben McGrath saved half this time with a D on a 50/50 ball. Two throws later, he put a 60 yard huck to junior Tyler Healy for a break to put the game back on serve at 6-6. Yuk took half a few throws later after a short field turnover. Out of half, Pitt would break for 7s and the teams traded O points, but from there on it was all Mr. Yuk, as they would win 13-9. The 5-1 run to win was marked by several throwing errors from En Sabah Nur with Yuk players getting some heads up D’s.
Game 2: Ohio State University (5) vs. University of Pittsburgh (13)
Pittsburgh came out looking to avenge their loss to CMU against Ohio State, earning two early breaks to go up 3-1 on some nice deep throws by Trent Dillon. OSU saved a third break with a D in the endzone and the teams would trade to 4-2 before Pittsburgh took over, going on a 3-1 run to take half 7-3 after a couple OSU miscues gave Pitt short fields to work with. After half, Pittsburgh stayed in control while OSU struggled to get things going, again giving Pittsburgh short fields after several miscommunications on dumps. Pittsburgh’s offense looked stellar in this game, easily working the disc upfield in a few throws each point. Pittsburgh wins 13-5.
Game 3: Ohio State University (9) vs. Carnegie Mellon University (13)
Yuk came out hot again, breaking on the second point to go up 2-0. Ohio State would bring it back on serve at 4s though. However, Yuk would go on a run at this point, breaking twice to take half 7-4. Yuk went on another 3-1 run out of half to go up 10-5 before OSU brought it back a bit, putting in two late breaks before Mr. Yuk closed it out for a 13-9 victory. This was CMU’s most efficient game, with less than 10 total turnovers by the team, going 6 for 8 on hucks and forcing several D’s.
Game 4: Ohio State University (11) vs. Ohio University (13)
I missed most of the first half of the game, but OU took half 7-4. Handlers Connor Haley and Luke Eastman of OU used an arsenal of throws to work the disc upfield with ease. Ohio State would begin to chip away at Ohio’s lead in the second half, earning breaks on every other D point out of half to take it to 10s. OSU kept the momentum going and broke again to take the lead 11-10 before Ohio settled down. Scoring their O point, OU would go on to break twice for the win after short field turnovers by Ohio State. Despite giving up their lead in the second half, OU had a very disciplined offense in this game, grinding it out with in-cut after in-cut and being very patient on hucks, usually allowing All-Region Cutter Mitch Cihon to be the one to put it deep.
Game 5: Ohio University (4) vs. University of Pittsburgh (13)
In this rematch from Ohio Valley Regional Finals, Pittsburgh came out hard and never looked back. Ohio started on D with a junk zone, but Pittsburgh wasn’t fazed, working it upfield patiently for the score. Over the next four points Ohio would turn it twice on hucks and twice on dump miscommunications, with Pitt capitalizing each time to build a 5-0 lead. Ohio would turn it once again before getting a big block in the endzone and working it upfield to stop the bleeding. Pittsburgh had their first offensive turn on a disc that floated a bit too much, but got it back on the next throw to score and broke on the next point to take half 7-1. The second half was more of the same after the teams traded to 9-3. Pitt would then go on a 4-1 run to win 13-4. OU’s cutters couldn’t get much going in this game as Pittsburgh ramped up the pressure on D, forcing Ohio to fight hard for every inch they gained.
Game 6: Ohio University (15) vs. Carnegie Mellon University (12)
CMU receives and gets the first break, going up 4-2. Ohio breaks back and the teams trade to 5s. CMU drops an easy goal and OU capitalizes to take their first lead at 6-5 and end up taking half 7-6. CMU doesn’t give up though, bringing it to 12s and getting a D 10 yards out of OU’s endzone. However, after a break throw puts them at the 1 yard line, an ill-advised lefty backhand is D’ed and OU punches in their O. Ohio would score again to win 14-12, but the teams agreed to play one more point since we had some daylight left. Ohio would score that one after five turnovers to end it again 15-12.
University of Pittsburgh
- Victimized by quick deep strikes several times by all three teams. Came down with a good share of 50/50 balls, but were beat deep more often than I expected.
- Extremely efficient offense following the CMU game. Were not broken and had only a handful of turns.
- Key players were Isaac Saul, Max Thorne, Trent Dillon, Marcus Dropcho, Zach Kaufman, and Tyler DeGirolamo.
Carnegie Mellon University
- Established the deep game early to open up their under cuts.
- Played a tight rotation, with about 10 guys playing the majority of points, though got some big D’s and goals from fresh legs off the bench on D points.
- Key players were Nipunn Koorapati, Ben Clark, Akshay Krishnamurthy, Benjamin McGrath, and Reid Almand.
- Very disciplined offense. Grinded out points with in-cut after in-cut.
- After cutting last season, Connor Haley has stepped in as a dangerous lefty handler this year. He pretty much threw whatever he wanted.
- Key players were Connor Haley, Mitch Cihon, and Luke Eastman.
Ohio State University
- With only 10 returners, OSU more than a few miscommunications and unforced errors from the younger players on the squad. Still, this athletic squad made more than their share of big plays.
- Sophomore Paul Arters is a future All-Region player. He made several huge plays on O and D, skying players taller than him several times. His flick is dangerous too.
- Key players were Paul Arters, Ben Krumpelman, and Mike Meilstrup (Tang). And whoever was wearing the Spurs jersey. Sorry about not getting your name.
The main thing I took away from this tournament was that each team matches up quite differently with each other. CMU was able to beat Pitt on a lot of quick strike hucks, while Ohio and OSU’s cutters and handlers were stifled when Pittsburgh amped up the pressure in those games. Ohio and Ohio State played an extremely tight game with each other, a trend that has continued for a few years now. As the three-way tie between Pittsburgh, CMU, and OU indicates, as well as the close games OSU played with OU and CMU, this is a region where no team should feel they are safe. Add in a rising Cincinnati program and perennial contender Penn State and you’ve got a recipe for what should make for very interesting Conference and Regional tournaments. No matter how many bids the Ohio Valley ends up getting come the end of the Regular Season, this should be one of the most exciting Regions in the country come May.