VIDEO: Blowup In Pittsburgh/UNC-Wilmington Game

Gruntz, Saul, Thorne

At the end of the first half between Pittsburgh and UNC-Wilmington with the score tied 7-7, Wilmington pulled to Pitt and set up on defense.

After a handful of throws, UNC-W senior Alan Gruntz came in behind Pitt senior Isaac Saul after Saul made a catch on the sideline and shoved him out of bounds. Saul jumped up and shoved Gruntz right back as Alex Thorne rushed in to shove him as well. Several other players from both teams moved to get involved before the observers split the teams up. Both coaches talked about their players’ roles during the altercation after the game.

“That physical play was out of line by our player,” Vassar said. “He knows better and we’re figuring out what to do with him right now. It’s nothing that we coach, it’s nothing endemic to our team.”

“To me as a coach it’s unacceptable for us to react that way,” Pitt coach Nick Kaczmarek said. “I support that we had teammates coming to calm down the situation but they don’t need to come in aggressively. We never want to retaliate in the way we did.”

In all, three PMFs were handed down: two to Pitt (Saul and Thorne) and one to UNC-W (Gruntz). Because they got two PMFs, Pittsburgh was given a yardage penalty.

The emotional impact on the game was immediate and noticeable. Pittsburgh immediately turned the disc near its own end zone which gave UNC-W an opportunity to break. The Seamen took that opportunity and the one that followed to take half 8-7.

However, that wasn’t where the emotional impact stopped, as Pittsburgh came back from half and scored the next seven points to take a 14-8 lead on the way to a 15-9 victory. Did Gruntz fuel some kind of fire after immediately rattling Pittsburgh? It’s hard for Kaczmarek to say, but there is no denying that there was some impact.

“I think in the immediacy of that play it certainly negatively affected us,” Kaczmarek said. “I’m not sure of the effects of it long term. I would say that we probably got something from it…People wanted to win that game. I think it probably heightened how aggressive we were defensively.”

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld.You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

  2. Michael Aguilar

    Michael Aguilar is a reporter for Ultiworld. He began playing ultimate in the summer of 2008 at the urging of a few University of South Carolina players. He played for USC in the spring of 2009 and for LSU in the spring of 2011. In his spare time during those years, he ran one of the first ever ultimate news blogs, Movin' On Up. He was the head coach of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, LA, from 2011-2016 and the assistant coach in 2017. He owes all his success to his loving wife Kendall.

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