It was a hot and humid day as the New York Magpies travelled up to their home ground in Yonkers to take on the North Carolina Tigers and Florida Redbacks in their first home games for the season. As the players arrived at the ground there was a late change to the schedule with the four 2×20 min quarter games to be replaced by one full game. New York would take on a combined side from North Carolina, Florida and Philadelphia and also provided a few players to even the teamâ€™s numbers.
In head coach Glenn Ormsbyâ€™s absence leadership team member Jack Taylor took the reins for the day and his job was immediately made harder with the combined team opening the scoring a mere minute into the game. Ruckman Alex Kwiatkowski settled his midfield however and Chris Casey, Chris Murray and Juice Desai worked the ball down to captain Todd Smith who converted for the Magpies to even the scores. The rest of the quarter was played mostly between the half forward and half back lines with neither team having too many opportunities. At quarter time the Magpies had managed to put on a couple of extra goals through the efforts of Mike Farrell, Tai Scott and Adam Overall but the combined team was right in the contest, 2 goals down.
Taylor asked for more effort from his players and with the benefit of some fresh legs the Magpies opened the scoring and had quickly added a couple of extra goals with Mike Fraietta, Mike Murphy and Paul Guarino maintaining the pressure from the wings and half forward line. The combined team continued to press and had several scoring opportunities stopped by the Magpies strong backline of Toby Tornay, Bryan Caine, Hamish Keith, Richard Marian, Nick Walker and Brad Davis. The combined team managed to break the shackles for a couple of minutes and put through 2 much needed goals and at half time the score was 7.5 47 to 4.4 28.
As the rain began to fall the third quarter was the tightest of the game with neither team managing to score a goal. New York sent Hamish Keith to the combined teamâ€™s most dangerous midfielder and despite the heat the tackling pressure was intense as the football bounced from half forward to half forward line. Several Magpies took some time in the ruck to give Kwiatkowski a spell with Benny McDevit and Tornay proving particularly successful. At three quarter time the scores hadnâ€™t really changed and it was either teamâ€™s game to win.
With both teams drained from 3 quarters of tough football the pace was noticeable slower at the start of the last quarter. New York took the initial advantage with Keith continuing his strong game in the midfield and Desai winning plenty of the ball. Fraietta banged through an early goal to give the Magpies their biggest lead of the day but with plenty of time for a response from the combined team. The combined team responded magnificently and despite injuries to a couple of their players which robbed the team of a bench they scored 2 goals and reduced the deficit to 2 goals with 5 minutes to play. The Magpies lifted a gear and forced the ball forward where Farrell took a mark at the top of the goal square and could seal the game with a goal. The pressure got to him however and he pulled the kick for a minor score. Soon afterwards the siren sounded with the Magpies hanging on to win against a tough, gallant combined team. The final score was 8.9 56 to 6.6.42.
Best: Keith, Kwiatkowski, Desai, Marian, Fraietta, Smith
Rookie coach Taylor was happy with the performance of the team but cautioned his players about becoming complacent during the upcoming 3 week mid-season break. â€œNationals are only a couple of months away, he said, and with competition for spots fierce, getting to training and doing adequate personal fitness work will be vitalâ€.
Thanks to the players from North Carolina, Florida and Philadelphia for making the trip up the New York for the game and to the New York Magpies players who played for the combined to team to make up numbers. Special thanks to Rhys Ryan for umpiring and to Tim Pezanko, Christina Licata and Janet Beyersdorf for their help with the goals and the boundaries.