With the most women attending the USAFL National Championships in the clubâ€™s history, coupled with their near miss at last yearâ€™s tournament, the Lady Magpies were excited about their chances of finally bringing home a cup to New York.Â With a slow start on Saturday against the combined Calgary/Arizona squad, the Lady Magpies needed to win both remaining games to have a chance at the final. The deep bench of the Minnesota Lady Freeze proved too much for the black and white to defeat despite the Lady Pies obvious improvement in the second game. With their hopes for grand final glory put on hold until next year, the Lady Pies simply wanted to walk away from the weekend with a win. The ladiesâ€™ continued determination over the ball in windy conditions against a combined Sacramento/San Francisco side gave them the win they were looking for and the momentum to win it all come 2013. On the awards front, veteran Lady Pie and USA Freedom player, Siobhan McHale, won most consistent in the Womenâ€™s Division for her outstanding play in the midfield throughout the weekend.
NY Lady Magpies v Calgary/Arizona
Despite the Lady Piesâ€™ experience in East Coast games throughout the season, the squadâ€™s newness showed in the first game against the combined Calgary/Arizona squad. With the Piesâ€™ lack of physicality in the first half, the opposition ran away with the ball for heaps of scoring opportunities. Lady Piesâ€™ ruck and Aussie implant, High Tower, ensured that New York won the center taps; however, the ladies couldn’t convert this success into the forward line.
The Lady Piesâ€™ backline of Ervin, Vorsatz, Fudor, and Wolf battled fiercely for the ball, giving away no easy shots in front of the goal. Â With Calgaryâ€™s constant pressure on NYâ€™s defense, the Lady Pies were forced to create fast break opportunities to move the footy into the forward line.Â However, the strong skills and discipline of the Calgary/Arizona ladies prevented New York from making it on the scoreboard, taking the win 3.11 29 to no score. Despite the loss, the Lady Pies worked hard and by the end settled into their positions.
NY Lady Magpies v Minnesota Lady Freeze
In a more evenly matched game against the Minnesota Lady Freeze, the well-known physicality of the Lady Pies began to show. Veteran Siobhan McHale dominated the middle with a hard nose at the ball and broke through countless defenders to advance the footy forward. Captain Andrea Casillas appeared to be at every contest, while forward Ciara Lehane pushed up to the defensive half nearly running the length of the field. With increased communication and composure, the Lady Pies connected down the field to mark the ball more successfully.
Although the game showed mostly a defensive effort from the Lady Pies, the forwards held their own against a much more experienced Minnesota backline. Montreal Lady Angels, Kate Allbon-Sargeant and Lindsay Belzie, joined the Lady Pies for a run this Nationals and provided much-needed support in the forward line.Â Allbon-Sargeant had solid kicks and strong contests on the forward half of the field and worked well with Belzie, who took a huge contested mark to score the Lady Piesâ€™ first goal. While the Lady Pies played more cohesively and certainly brought a more physical game of football, in the end it wasn’t enough and the Lady Freeze recorded the win, 2.4 16 to 1.2 8, ending the Lady Pies hopes of a shot at the Womenâ€™s Grand Final disappeared.
NY Lady Magpies v Sacramento/San Francisco
With two losses under their belts, the Lady Pies took the field ready for a win in the windy conditions of Sunday afternoon against a formidable Sacramento/San Francisco combined team. Although retired Lady Magpie Monica Robbins thought she had hung up her boots for good, in true Magpie form, she once again joined her team for the last game of the season in the Center Half Forward position. With the strengthened forward line, scoring opportunities were at a maximum for the weekend despite the wind having its way with the footy. Everything seemed to come together for the Lady Pies, and the teams played a mostly even first half of footy.
The Lady Piesâ€™ backs were up against the wall in the beginning of the second half, but the defense held strong. Second year Magpies, Karen Muiter and Lissette Hinjosa, ran well with their players effectively taking them out of the game, while Casillas and Licata cleaned up the sidelines moving the ball to the forward half. The continuous hard work of McHale, Robbins, and Lehane insured that it would stay there for the remainder of the game.Â With more freedom to run, Hemenway dominated marks in the center and had heaps of shots on goal, leading the Lady Pies to a 2.5 17 to 1.3 9 victory. Coach Staropoli was thrilled with the win saying, â€œThe wind hampered what would have been a high scoring game, but the triumph sets us up for 2013!â€