Round 1 of the New York City Australian Football League (â€œNYCAFLâ€) kicked off on a perfect evening for football in Hoboken, just across the Hudson River from the city. After a successful draft night on Wednesday there was a good turn-out for the games which would see the Hudson River Rats take on the Times Square Tourists and the Village Bohemianâ€™s take on the Suburban Tollmen. The night also featured a co-ed Recfooty game including many of the Lady Pies plus some new players.
The Recfooty game started the night and with several players new to the format (which involves tags rather than tackling) the game went several minutes before the first goal was scored. Eventually the red team got on the board first with Christina Licata combining well with Bryan Caine, Jeremy McMahon and Aminah Sulayman. The rest of the half was back and forth and the yellow team managed to peg things back to lead 5 goals to 4 at half time with Emily Royer and Philip Boyd playing particularly well. The second half was even closer than the first with both teams struggling to score initially. It all came down to the last 2 minutes and with the two teams tied on 8 goals each the red team managed to get the last goal, winning 9 goals to 8 goals.
Next up the Hudson River Rats took on the Times Square Tourists with both teams looking to bounce back from tough 2011 campaigns. The River Rats had the better start with ruckman Nick Brooks combining well with rovers Tim Buxton, Brett Felsenthal and Brendan Murphy and the Rats had quickly jumped out to a 4 goal lead. The Tourists were not discouraged however and smart tap work from 2012 NYCAFL draft number 1 pick Alex Kwiatkowski to his rovers Sam Mitchell and Chris Casey saw the contest tighten. The rest of the quarter was fairly even and at half time the River Rats led 8.1 49 to 4.0 24.
In the second half the River Rats continued to score consistently but the Tourists remained solid with both teamâ€™s backlines standing strong under constant pressure. Tourists debutant Brian Jeep did a great job on his Rats opponent while Rat defenders Ben Squires and Mike â€˜Bucketsâ€™ Farrell also played well. In what was truly a midfield game the River Rats had more depth with Jono Rush, Olivier Tresco and Tom Thompson complimenting the starting midfielders and ultimately the Rats ran out victors, 17.1 103 to 7.0 42.
The final match of the evening pitted the defending NYCAFL champions the Village Bohemians against their opponents in the 2011 grand final, the Suburban Tollmen (â€˜Trashâ€™). The game was noticeably more physical than the previous game with Trash midfielders Todd Smith, Hamish Keith and Nick Oâ€™Sullivan fighting a strong battle with the their Bohoâ€™s counterparts Eddy Buckingham, Dylan Martin and Rex Roberts. After the Bohoâ€™s got the first couple of goals the Trash fought back and by the end of the quarter had managed to open up a 2 goal advantage to lead 6.0 36 to 4.0 24.
Both teams made several changes at the start of the second half with Smith moving into the ruck for the Trash and Chris Murray and Juice Desai, for the Bohoâ€™s and Trash respectively, restarting an old rivalry in the middle. After a tight first 5 minutes that saw both teams slot a couple of goals, the Trash begun to pull away with Digger Kyle and Jason Clifford getting amongst the goals and Bryan Caine and Tristan Keefe restricting their opponents down back. The Bohoâ€™s kept working hard and scored a couple of late goals via Brent Wheeldon and Cam Sinclair to keep the result respectable however the Trash managed to gain a measure of revenge for their 2011 grand final loss, running out winners 15.0 90 to 9.0 54.
After a high scoring first week the River Rats have jumped to the top of the ladder courtesy of their large win over the Tourists. The NYCAFL continues next Friday back at Stevenâ€™s Institute in Hoboken as the Suburban Tollmen take on the Times Square Tourists and the Village Bohemians take on the Hudson River Rats.