It was finally showtime at Easterns. Both Pitt and Wisconsin had waltzed through the tournament without much of a challenge one way or the other. Now the two best teams, both by seedings and by results, were meeting in the finals. With the wind at an all-time high, we had no idea what to expect.
Turns out, we should have expected a Hodag blowout because that is exactly what we got. The Hodags jumped out early and jumped out hard on En Sabah Nur and that eventually led to an easy victory. However, this game had more riding on it than a simple Easterns victory. The two teams had put up the VC Showcase Easterns jerseys and it was winner take all in the finals.
The Hodags walked away with the jerseys and a 14-11 victory.
Wisconsin wasted no time in displaying its strategy to start the game. With the wind blowing its hardest, nearly directly upwind/downwind, neither team looked like it was going to waste much energy in trying to move the disc bit by bit downwind. The Hodags came out hucking and took an easy 1-0 lead.
UW would continue that momentum going into the next point as a crucial Pitt turn gave Madison the opportunity to pick up an upwind break to take a 2-0 lead. The Hodags capitalized, as junior Jake Smart threw a falling down breakmark throw for the score, and Pitt was now in the unenviable position of having to move the disc upwind to keep from going down two breaks.
En Sabah Nur couldn’t get anything going its way though, Pitt dropped a pass on the next possession and Wisconsin picked up the disc and scored to take a 3-0 lead. Pitt followed this up with yet another unforced error and Wisco once again took advantage, the score stood at 4-0.
Pitt looked to get back on board, scoring its next possession but the Hodags found senior Evan Klane, who had been doing most of his work from the behind the disc up until this point, on an upline cut to maintain a 4-score difference, 5-1 Hodags.
Madison followed this up with another break thanks to senior Jon Masler pumping a half-field flick huck upwind to take a 6-1 lead over Pitt. On Pitt’s following possession, En Sabah Nur finally cracked Wisco’s zone, which had been giving the team so much trouble up until this point, and scored thanks to an over the top hammer, 6-2. Wisconsin maintained its distance though, hitting junior Pat Donovan on a half-field huck for the score to go to 7-2.
Pitt took a bit of the edge off the lead before Madison took an 8-4 lead into half. The Hodags scored right out of the gates to Donovan to take a 9-4 lead.
On the next point it appeared that Pitt was ready to give the game away as the Hodags almost came up with a block on a floaty swing pass but senior Kyle Baynes recovered and hit his receiver in the endzone for a thirty yard score and to keep the game within reach at 9-5, Wisconsin.
Pitt followed that up with a break to get within three at 9-6 the the teams would trade to 10-7 before a Wisco break gave the Hodags an 11-7 lead. Pitt mounted its final comeback attempt, rattling off another break after an offensive point score to get close the gap to two at 11-9.
However, the Hodags went back to their break and butter, hitting Donovan for yet another score to get back on track and take a 12-9 lead. Pitt would score after a long point but Klane would once again throw a score for Wisconsin to keep the game out of reach as the cap was on and the Hodags held a 13-10 lead in a game to 14.
Pitt wasn’t giving up though, as En Sabah Nur made a diving grab to move the score to 13-11 but the Hodags answered in kind, taking the Easterns trophy, jerseys and title home on a backline-toeing layout catch. Hodags won 14-11.