Last weekend the New York Magpies traveled down to Sarasota, Florida to have 3 teams compete in the annual USAFL Nationals Tournament. With two men’s sides and one women’s team, the club was represented by over 50 people, in a fantastic weekend-long event.
Men’s 1s – Division 1
Game 1 – vs Dallas
The first game by our men was played at 10am, before the hot Florida sun could have an impact. Having been beating by Dallas three weeks earlier, we were keen to make amends by hitting the scoreboard early. The first few minutes had an adrenaline rushing pace to it, with neither side able to get an early goal. 7 minutes in, Paul Guarino used his trusty left boot to hit Brenton Hocking on the lead, and the small forward managed to kick the first goal of the game from 45 metres out. Soon after Marcus Jankie capitalized with a turnover and found Matt Lovell running in to an open goal. Lovell followed on with a second goal from the goal square only minutes later. From then the tone was set for the rest of the game. Forward pressure from Eddy Heppt, and fantastic defensive play from the half back line gave the Magpies a 27 point lead at half time.
The second half was much of the same, with midfield wins by Marcus Jankie, Dave Abernethy and big ruckman Alex Aurrichio. Sam Jess and Dan Lehane continued to clean up off the half back flanks, while Shane Lowry took it even further, breaking free and slotting a set shot from 30 metres out. Again the ball was won out of the center by our midfielders, with Angus Twopeny getting a one-two handball back, and slotting the Magpie’s sixth for the game. Around the ground it was all the black and white, with exciting chasing, tackling, intercepting and possession football. Dave Abernethy continued his dominance in the midfield, but the Pies struggled to convert for the next 12 minutes, despite being completely in control. Eddy Heppt applied a fantastic forward tackle, but didn’t get the free it deserved. Then Adam ‘Ringo’ Marr moved forward, and immediately found the result we were looking for. His 40 metre snap went through the big sticks, and gave the Magpies a 48 point lead late in the game.
The eight goal win gave redemption to the unflattering performance from weeks earlier, but true credit has to be given to the defensive six who only had 1 point scored them all game.
Magpies: 7.9 (51)
Dallas: 0.1 (1)
Goals: Lovell 2, Hocking, Guarino, Lowry, Twopeny, Marr.
Best: Jankie, Lehane, Lowry, Jess, Twopeny, Abernethy.
Game 2 – vs Orange County
The Magpies won the toss and elected to kick with the wind in the first half. After seeing how damaging the Pies were in the first game, the OC opted to play a possession game right from the start. Already time-wasting, the OC defence chipped it around until Sam Jess spectacularly intercepted it, switched play to Shane Lowry who then perfectly hit Matt Lovell on the lead. The big man went back and slotted his first, with Brenton Hocking doing the same moments later.
The OC had already started to drop their heads, and Alex Aurrichio made the most of it, with a perfect center bounce tap to a blitzing Marcus Jankie, who gave Lovell his second from the goal square. With the game firmly in control, the Magpies continued dominate out of the backline through Sam Jess and Dan Lehane. Making things even more exciting was Shane Lowry taking a speccy over an OC forward. Some say he only did it because it was directly in front of the camera (see 8min 30sec on the replay), but even so it was a fantastic grab.
Going forward again, Carson Olsheski managed a quick snap to get his first for the tournament, while Dave Abernethy continued to show his strength in the midfield. At half time it was all New York, with a 26 – 0 lead at the break.
The second half started with the Magpies dominating again, switching play to the left side where Paul Guarino easily stepped around a player and slotted his first of the game. Following that, Alex Aurrichio brought the ball to ground in the goal square, where recruit Jim Andreozzi pounced with a sliding soccer off the ground for his first goal. Minutes later, ‘little Jim’ as he’s affectionately known, bumped his opponent off the play so that Brenton Hocking could pick it up and snap his second.
Finally the OC managed to get the ball forward, but Shane Lowry got back in time to touch it on the line. Going forward again, little Jim laid a perfect tackle, where James Mirtschin gathered the free footy and dribbled through his first. With the game sealed up, Adam ‘Ringo’ Marr moved moved, and again, it didn’t take long for him to hit the scoreboard. Sam Jess hit him on a lead, and Ringo kicked truly from the pocket, leading the Pies to a strong 59 point victory.
Magpies: 9.7 (61)
Orange County: 0.2 (2)
Goals: Lovell 2, Hocking 2, Olsheski, Guarino, Andreozzi, Mirtschin, Marr.
Best: Abernethy, Hocking, Andreozzi, Lowry, Aurrichio.
Game 3 – vs Golden Gate
This next game was on the second day of the tournament, and for anyone who’s played footy before, the day after a game can be rough on the body…. Now imagine having to go out and do it all again while feeling that tired and sore!
With the best possible preparations, the team set out to win this third and final game of the group stage. The game itself was essentially a Preliminary Final, with Golden Gate also being 2-0 leading in. The start wasn’t the one we hoped, with Golden Gate winning the center clearance, and perfectly hitting up their full forward on a lead. He went back and immediately put them 6 points up. Under a minute had been played, and we already had our backs against the wall. We responded well though, with Marcus Jankie winning the next center clearance and going forward. Brenton Hocking took a solid mark 15 metres out, but the umpire said he pushed the opponent in the back, so it went the other way. For the next 10 minutes it was all the same. The Pies were on the rough end of some controversial decisions, while even the bounce of the ball seemingly didn’t go our way. Midfielder Jason Maggs and Angus Twopeny battled gallantly, and managed to keep the team in check, while captain Michael Murphy kicked New York’s first goal of the game. At half time the Magpies were only down 9 to 7.
The second half started again with a fierce midfield battle, with Golden Gate managing to get the ball forward, where it was bottled up by our defence. Again, controversy struck when Sam Jess had a holding the ball decision paid against him, 10 metres out directly in front of goal. The resulting goal moved Golden Gate out to an 8 point lead, but that didn’t stop the Magpie attack on the ball. Angus Twopeny received a quick handball and had a snap on goal… The bouncing ball again took an unfavourable turn, and only went through for a point. A minute later Brenton Hocking snapped at goal, but a deflection came off Michael Murphy’s arm, and rolled through for another behind. Up the other end, Adam Marr and Sam Jess kept out the surging attack from Golden Gate until an unfortunate turnover in the midfield produced a 50m goal on the run over their heads. The score was out to 23 to 9, with New York struggling to hit the scoreboard. Matt Lovell and Brenton Hocking came off injured, and big man James Mirtschin moved forward. Luke Schoen continued to move the ball forward from the midfield, but it just wasn’t the Magpies day. The game ended in a 15 point loss, and the tournament championship dreams were over.
Magpies: 1.3 (9)
Golden Gate: 3.6 (24)
Best: Twopeny, Schoen, Jess, Aurrichio, Lin, Mirtschin.
As for the entire weekend, it was one of the best efforts the team has put together on the field all year. The attack on the ball, and the hard, defensive running was unquestionable. The New York Men’s 1s team may not have won the tournament, but the way in which they played all three games over the weekend would have definitely earned the respect from everyone there. We look towards next year’s Nationals in San Diego, determined to be better, stronger, and victorious.
Men’s 2s – Division 3
New York partnered up with Boston to produced a reserves side, and set out to take on the Division 3 teams. North Carolina had seen the Magpies abilities previously in the season, but it was a much different lineup than back in June. Rich Marian joined the side, coming up from the Cayman Islands to wear a Magpies jumper again, while club icon and revered veteran, Jimmy Polulach gave his ever-faithful hardness to the team. Half way through the first game, we were already struggling in the heat, and North Carolina had already skipped a couple of goals ahead. Jay Whiting fought hard down back, but the lack of experience from some of our fill-in players meant we were struggling early. Then the injuries started to hit. Jimmy Polulach heard a snap in his ankle while winning a hard ball, and then Jaime Spataro heard a twang in the hamstring while sprinting down the wing. Mike Fraietta lead hard and put in a fantastic effort, earning himself a promotion to the 1s for the following game, however the team struggled, and North Carolina were victorious by 33 points.
The second game came late in the day, and it didn’t start well. Somehow the Magpies, despite going through all the correct preparations, only had 13 people on the field. Seattle pounced, and kicked a goal within 10 seconds of the start. After some re-adjusting, we corrected the team lineup, but Seattle were too tough out of the midfield. Andrew Manfredi was a clear standout player for the Pies, relentlessly attacking the ball, and never giving in. Up forward, Eric Toczko battled against strong opponents, and Jordan Hodgson tore apart the open wings. Big Benny Niergarth smashed his way through packs, but unfortunately the play was all Seattle’s way, so he had limited impact in the New York forward line. Seattle ran out victorious, 64 to 1, in a dismal Magpie effort.
The final, third game was the opening one of the second day. The teams took the field at 9am, and yet again, Nick Walker stood tall in the ruck. Battling off an imposing ruckman, Walker won multiple taps to advantage, helping out Brendan Noakes and Rich Marian around him. Judd Kozikowski steered the ship from the backline, and fought gallantly…. but with a couple of turnovers in front of goal, his best work for the weekend clearly wasn’t with the footy, but rather his efforts off the field, and into the early hours of the following morning. 🙂
Also in defence was Ben Morgan, who recently joined the Magpies after not touching a footy for 13 years. It didn’t show though, as his slick skills were on display all tournament. Another workhorse of the backline was Jay Whiting who’s persistent leads, and endeavor showed that Jay will be a valuable asset to the club in many years to come. Matt Barlaz and Brad Davis helped out the side, but unfortunately had limited impact up forward, as San Diego ran out winners 39 to 9.
The games didn’t produce the best results, but it was fantastic to see everyone giving their all, and enjoying their football. Next year, we’ll be a much better side with a full squad, and will really shake things up in the comp.
Game 1 – vs Minnesota
Match Report coming soon.
Magpies: 0.1 (1)
Minnesota: 3.5 (23)
Game 2 – vs San Francisco
Match Report coming soon.
Magpies: 1.1 (7)
San Francisco: 10.4 (64)
Game 3 – vs Sacramento
Match Report coming soon.
Magpies: 0.1 (1)
Sacramento: 2.3 (15)
Game 4 – vs Denver
Match Report coming soon.
Magpies: 1.2 (8)
Denver: 4.9 (33)