After all the pre-season training the New York Magpies kicked off their 2011 campaign with a hard fought win against Florida United in Sarasota, Florida. With temperatures and humidity reaching the 90â€™s, the Magpies were tested throughout the game but managed to emerge thanks to a strong last quarter performance and each player calling on all their reserves to put in the little efforts required to get across the line.
Travelling with a small squad the Magpies arrived at the polo field that would host the game to discover that they would not only have to contend with the heat but also the alligators in the run-off pond next to the ground. Captain Andy Brennan led a vigorous warm-up and Coach Glenn Ormsby reminded the team, which included a strong contingent of New York Magpie debutants, that to wear the Magpies jumper was a privilege and that the success of the season started with the very first game.
The first quarter started at a quick pace considering the weather with the Magpies onballers, led by first gamers Smith and Taylor as well as club stalwarts Lin and McCormick, able to give their forwards the bulk of the opportunities early. Midway through the quarter the pace slowed with Florida exploiting their superior fitness to push forward on numerous occasions. Tornay was given the unenvious task of stopping Floridaâ€™s full forward and along with the backline general Georgiou and his contingents of Overall and Davis, they managed to outpoint their opponents and repel most attacks, resulting in the score being a goal apiece at quarter time.
Florida came out the more committed team in the second quarter and managed to get the jump on the Magpies with a couple of early goals. The home team threatened to break away from the visitors and it was the rotation of midfielders through into the middle, strong efforts from first game players Oestreicher and Collins on the half forward line and hard running on the wings by Guarino and Hadziahmetovic that allowed the Magpies to kick a couple of late goals and take back the lead. At halftime the score was 3.5 23 to 3.1 19.
The third quarter was a tough and torrid affair with both teams having significant possession of the ball without bothering the scorekeepers. Baskett was moved into the ruck and Keefe to full forward with immediate impact. Solid defence from Normand and the sustained run from Scavera and Walkington through the midfield kept the Magpies attacking. After a string of behinds Captain Brennan was able to slot a couple of goals in a row giving the Magpies some breathing space heading into three quarter time.
Under the harsh Florida sun the Magpies new they needed a huge 20 minutes to finish the game, however Florida kicked the opening goal just seconds into the last quarter. The Magpies sensed the game was on the line and the senior players lifted resulting in three straight goals. Despite a late goal to Florida the Magpies managed to contain their opponents until the final siren with New York running out winners New York Magpies 8.13 61 to Florida United 7.6 48.
After the game Coach Ormsby praised his team for the hard fought effort, especially from those players playing their first games for the Magpies. â€˜Guys like Smith and Taylor really just kept putting in all day despite the heat and the committed play of Floridaâ€™. He was far from satisfied however and indicated that â€˜a lot of extra fitness work would be required at training in the upcoming weeksâ€™. Captain Brennan, who starred with 6 of New Yorkâ€™s 8 goals praised the contribution of the Magpies American players who all played the full game due to a lack of reserves and made special mention of the efforts of non playing support staff, Paul Devlin and Conor Walsh, saying â€œwithout them we would have probably lostâ€.
Following the game the Magpies enjoyed a couple of beers and some meat pies with their opponents before heading to the beach. After a very enjoyable night on the town, reports emerged from Tampa International Airport that a group of extremely red, slightly disorientated men were seen boarding planes back to the more wintery Northeast.
New York Magpies 8.13 61 to Florida United 7.6 48
NYM Goals: Brennan 6, Hadziahmetovic 2
NYM Best Players: Brennan, Tornay, Georgiou, Smith, Lin, Taylor
(Thanks to Myles Walkington for writing the match report)