They’ve done it again. Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur have repeated as champions. The first time any team has accomplished the feat in five years (Wisconsin – 2007/2008), and only one of five teams to do so. Riding on the backs of their big name players like Tyler Degirolamo, Trent Dillon, Alex Thorne, Marcus Ranii-Dropcho, and Isaac Saul, Pitt took down the momentum-streaking UCF Dogs of War in the title game with relative ease, 15-8.
It had been an up-and-down season for the defending champions. (Coach Nick Kaczmarek has made it quite clear many times over that this team is different from last year’s championship team.) But Pitt came together and clicked as a unit at exactly the right time, Nationals.
There seems to be a pandemic overlying theme for nearly every ultimate team throughout their season: win or lose, get better with every game. En Sabah Nur did just that. Pitt qualified for the quarterfinal round before any other squad on Saturday, and used the extra rest to refuel their title run, cruising through their quarterfinal match-up against North Carolina Darkside. Unlike fellow early qualifiers Oregon and UCF, En Sabah Nur’s sweeping success never waned, with an average margin of victory of 5 points, finishing three clear of overall number one seed Oregon Ego in semis and seven clear of UCF in the Championship game.
Pitt’s success truly was something special, and can be credited to the special players on the team. Big names like Thorne (x2), Degirolamo, Saul and Dropcho showed up and performed at the highest level game-in, game-out. Pitt’s big guns even bookended the scoring in the final game. Thorne started it out on the first point with a Sportscenter worthy layout grab, and Degirolamo finished it off with a pancake catch for the final score, then immediately proceeded to knee-slide to half field on the moist grass in celebration.
With each passing game, the talk would turn to “Who’s going to mark up on Degirolamo/Thorne/Saul?” But it would prove each time to be a moot point. No one could stop Pitt’s playmakers, there were simply too many of them. Not fellow All-Americans. Not fellow Callahan nominees. Not even deteriorating weather conditions. Nothing would deter the Pitt mission for gold, short of taking them out of the game completely. Pitt’s only hiccup on the weekend – the final game of pool play against Arizona which saw them rest the starting O and D lines for the upcoming quarter-finals.
Something should be said about Pitt’s opponents in the finals game, however, who had also found themselves on a similar meteoric rise fueled by momentum.
UCF came into the tournament a six-seed and had convincing wins over the likes of 1-seed in their pool North Carolina and CUT (many people’s favorite to win) in semis 13-10 and 15-8, respectively. Unlike Pitt, the Dogs of War could not harness their gained momentum through the final contest and ultimately fell by 7 points to En Sabah Nur. Despite the scoreline, UCF had an amazing tournament run and season to be proud of with a greatly unexpected second place finish. All good things must come to an end, and that certainly includes momentum, the fact that it continued through ‘till Monday is an achievement in itself. Congratulations go out to the UCF players and coaches for exceeding even their own expectations for success.
But the day, and the 2013 College Championship, belonged to Pittsburgh once again.
It was obvious from game one, point one that En Sabah Nur was on a mission to repeat. Even when Pitt found themselves up 14-8 in the final against UCF, and with the crowd roaring “Hammer pull! Hammer pull! Hammer pull!”, Pitt would not relax (and would not succomb to the fans’ pressure). Instead, the pull came down high, right-side-up, and just the right amount of bladey, as if the game were tied at 14-all, showing Pitt was 100% focused on the task at hand. They fittingly finished the weekend exactly how they started it, on offense with a deep shot to the player who was unquestionably the MVP of the team and tournament, Tyler Degirolamo.
Congratulations to the 2013 Open College Champions – University of Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur
Feature photo by Alex Fraser – UltiPhotos.com