#3 Pitt defeated #1 UNC, #8 Michigan, and #14 Georgia on Sunday to win CCC.
November 10, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in News, Recap with 12 comments
ATHENS — Max Thorne had six goals and an assist and Pittsburgh never trailed Georgia in the Classic City Classic final, taking the tournament title with a 15-10 win on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Pittsburgh was locked in from the start of the day, using an aggressive man defense to stifle downfield cutting and applying pressure to resets. Breaks came early and often; Pitt had four first half breaks against Georgia.
“We’re just trying to be the best team we can possibly be,” said Pitt coach Nick Kaczmarek.
Georgia spotted Pitt an early lead after a drop on the second throw of the game. Georgia kept it close, tying the game at 2-2 with an impressive Shawn Paul sky over Carl Morgenstern, but then let off two more breaks as Pitt extended their lead to three. In that Pitt 3-0 run, sophomore Jonah Wisch had a goal and a catch block while providing a steady backfield hand after the turnover.
Georgia’s Elliot Erickson prevented a fourth straight score for Pitt when he laid out to intercept a crossfield throw in the endzone, but gave it back two points later when he made an amazing catch only to throw it right to Morgenstern looking for the assist. Pitt finished the half up 8-4; Georgia did not score a break.
“We’re just playing a really effective man defense,” said Kaczmarek. “We train it, we work on the mechanics of it, we work on applying it, and we work on being adaptive.”
The second half was a much better showing for Jojah. They broke to start the half after Pitt’s Jimmy Towle misread a fading outside-in flick to the break side. Then Georgia held on their next offensive point with another big sky from Paul and a Nathan Haskell assist to a laying out Elliott Erickson.
Georgia hurt their comeback chances after gifting Pitt another break with a dropped pull, but did string together a nice 3-0 run to pull back within two at 10-12. Mike Peters ran down a beautiful huck for the first break, then standout rookie Sebastian Di Francesco found Sam Little for the second.
With a roaring pro-Georgia crowd now fully into the game, Pitt stood tall. They held on offense then scored two straight breaks — again thanks to excellent reset defense — to close out the 15-10 win.
“We really got up for each situation,” said Kaczmarek, referencing their much more consistent high level play on Sunday. He emphasized their focus on having a consistent mental focus, regardless of the competition.
Georgia coach Ben Gray had similar comments about his team after the game. “Mentally, we’re a little bit of a roller coaster team,” he said, but added that the team is working hard to avoid getting into slumps like they had in the first half. “I don’t know if that second half against Pitt happens in the past,” he said. “I was really happy about how we came back.”
Tactically, Georgia will need to improve its defense to really compete in the Spring. They struggled to put pressure on Pitt or UNC in the two losses they took this weekend. Pitt’s offense made mistakes, but was rarely forced into them by Georgia’s defense.
But some of the credit has to go to Pittsburgh’s offensive line. There is obvious chemistry and the top players are running the system very effectively. Only Michigan’s tricky zone defense gave Pitt’s O much trouble on Sunday.
“I’m very happy with how they’re playing right now,” said Kaczmarek. “There’s a lot of trust being built on that line.”
Pitt walks away with a big fall crown and a growing sense that the team’s ceiling is very high. This year’s team is clearly much further along than it was at this time last year. But there’s a lot of time until the College Series.
“We have a ton of work to do,” said Kaczmarek. “This country is full of incredible teams this year.”