After a successful 2011 debut in Division 3 the New York Magpies second’s team was confident of another good showing despite being undermanned. The team couldn’t get going against a strong Chicago Swans team that ended up winning the division before rebounding on Saturday afternoon to beat a persistent Florida Redbacks team. Sunday was another story again as the Sacramento Suns came out more motivated for the early game and built an insurmountable lead with the wind in the first half to take the victory.
New York Magpies v Chicago Swans
When New York and Chicago met in Chicago during the regular season it was the Magpies that walked away with the points but unfortunately the result was switched at Nationals as the Swans were the better team. Right from the outset of the game the Pies had no answer to Chicago’s strong half back line despite the best efforts of ruckman Adam Mantzaris and midfielders Glenn Ormsby, Richard Marian and Tom Burke. A couple of early goals by the Swans put the Magpies backline under pressure and it was only inaccurate kicking that prevented the Swans from having a lead greater than the 5 goal advantage that they held at half time.
Following a rev up from coach Todd Smith the Magpies came out more motivated in the second half with a couple of scoring opportunities initiated from the backline of Chris Norman, Jon Melo, Nick Kerr and Matt Barlaz going close to registering the Magpies first score of the day. Unfortunately Chicago responded with another couple of goals and despite some good link up work down the wing from Jeremy Spiteri, Burke and Marian the Pies couldn’t record more than a solitary point. When the whistle blew it was a big victory for the Swans, 6.12 48 to 0.1 1.
Best: Marian, Burke, Spataro
Coach Smith was rightfully disappointed with his charges who were outpointed by a better team in Chicago. ‘We just can’t allow teams to get off to the start that Chicago did and expect to stay in the game’ he said. ‘With only two 20 minute halves per game if you go down by two goals its just too hard to get back in the contest’.
New York Magpies v Florida Redbacks
After their disappointing result in the morning the Division 3 Magpies were keen to make amends against Florida and were not helped by a tournament ending injury to ruckman Mantzaris and the call-up of Jamie Spataro to the Division 1 team to replace the injured Glenn Caldwell. Luckily the Pies were able to call into service several players from Las Vegas and Nashville to make up the numbers and ensure a good contest.
The Magpies warmup was much more motivated and the positive attitude continued into the game as ruckman Adam Overall gave his midfielders first use and the Pies kicked the opening goal through some strong work from Marian. That goal was quickly followed by another to Rob Donner who boxed out his opponent before the Redbacks got on the score board with a goal of their own. Unlike the morning the Magpies remained committed and Myles Walkington, Troy Danilo and Ed McCormick got involved in possessions that saw Overall and Donner each add another goal. At halftime the Magpies had pulled ahead, leading 4.2 26 to 2.0 12.
Florida threw everything they had at the Magpies early in the second half and for a while the Magpies threatened to crack as the Redbacks added a goal and a couple of points. New York’s midfield lifted their work rate however and Ormsby added his first for the day before some good link up work saw the ball land in the safe hands of captain and centre half forward Brett Smiley who kicked truly to put the result beyond doubt. New York eventually ran out winners, 6.7 43 to Florida 3.4 22.
Goals: Donner 2, Marian 1, Overall 1, Ormsby 1, Smiley 1
Best: Burke, Overall, Donner
Captain Brett Smiley was impressed with his teammate’s endeavor to bounce back from the loss in the morning and appreciative of the fill-ins from Vegas and Nashville saying ‘it really helped with a few extra players on the bench, and unlike the first game, we played the way we really knew how: a tough, committed, relentless and cohesive unit.’
New York Magpies v Sacramento Suns
The Division 3 team had the early start on Sunday morning and weren’t out of finals calculations but would need to beat their Sacramento opponents then rely on the Redbacks beating Chicago to make it. From the start of the game the Magpies were sluggish and the problems of the Saturday morning game returned, aided by the task of keeping the Suns from scoring with a very strong breeze. Before New York could blink the Suns had added 3 goals and the Pies hadn’t even looked like getting the ball into their forward half. With David Kyle and Kerr giving their all the Magpies gradually improved their standing but not before the Suns added another 2 goals to end the first half leading 5.1 31 to no score.
The Magpies huddle remained positive at half time however with the team confident it could reel in the Suns with some hard running and the aid of the breeze. Ormsby, Marian, Overall and the extra players from Las Vegas and Nashville led from the front and after a couple of off target shots the Magpies registered their first goal via Marian. However to their credit the Suns increased the pressure on the Magpies and limited their opponents to only a few more points for the half to record a 5.1 31 to 1.6 12 victory.
Goals: Marian 1
Best: Kyle, Marian, Ormsby
Goal scorer Marian was disappointed to end the tournament with only 1 win stating ‘we needed to put in better efforts right from the start of the games if we expected to record anymore victories. Ultimately we left it to too few players and that showed in the losses to Chicago and Sacramento’.
With the most women attending the USAFL National Championships in the club’s history, coupled with their near miss at last year’s tournament, the Lady Magpies were excited about their chances of finally bringing home a cup to New York. 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 ladies’ 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 Women’s Division for her outstanding play in the midfield throughout the weekend.
NY Lady Magpies v Calgary/Arizona
Despite the Lady Pies’ experience in East Coast games throughout the season, the squad’s newness showed in the first game against the combined Calgary/Arizona squad. With the Pies’ lack of physicality in the first half, the opposition ran away with the ball for heaps of scoring opportunities. Lady Pies’ 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 Pies’ backline of Ervin, Vorsatz, Fudor, and Wolf battled fiercely for the ball, giving away no easy shots in front of the goal. With Calgary’s constant pressure on NY’s defense, the Lady Pies were forced to create fast break opportunities to move the footy into the forward line. 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. 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 Pies’ 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 Women’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 Pies’ 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. 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, “The wind hampered what would have been a high scoring game, but the triumph sets us up for 2013!”
It turned out to be a roller coaster weekend at the 2012 USAFL National Championships for New York’s Division 1 team with a good win over Nashville on Saturday morning followed by a close loss to Orange County in the afternoon which looked to knock the Magpies out of the tournament. However the wind (and Nashville) would intervene and the Magpies made it through to the final on percentage with a victory over Denver (and a loss by OC to Nashville). Unfortunately it wasn’t to be in the final with New York going down to Dallas in a hard fought game.
New York Magpies vs Nashville Kangaroos
At 9am on Saturday October 13th the New York Magpies and Nashville Kangaroos kicked off Division 1 of the 2012 USAFL National Championships with a cracking game. Nashville had had a very successful 2012 season and the Magpies knew that they needed to be switched on from the start of the game. The midfield combination of ruckman Alex Kwiatkowski, centreman Jordan McIntyre, ruck rover Jack Taylor and rover Ojas ‘Juice’ Desai gained the early ascendancy and gave their forwards Tai Scott, Adam ‘Redge’ Routledge and Chris Walsh plenty of opportunities but the Magpies could only record 3 behinds before McIntyre took the goal scoring into his own hands and put through the Magpies first major. Solid defensive work from Dan Lehane, Scott McMaster and Brett Felsenthal limited the Kangaroos to a solitary point and New York led 1.3 9 to 0.1 1 at half time.
With the score close the Magpies knew that they needed to maintain their intensity for the full game and came out fired up as Chris Murray threw himself into packs and Todd Smith displayed his composure across halfback. Walsh slotted the first goal of the half for New York before Sam Mitchell added 2 more to put the game beyond Nashville. New York wanted a perfect half though and backmen Brad Davis, Mike ‘Magic’ Murphy, Toby Tornay and Jason Clifford locked down on their opponents to keep the Kangaroos from scoring all the way till the final siren. The full time score was 4.5 29 to 0.1.1
Goals: Mitchell 2, Walsh 1, McIntyre 1
Best: McIntyre, Kwiatkowski, Murphy, Smith, Taylor
Coach Glenn Ormsby praised his team for their effort saying ‘we’ve worked on eliminating our slow starts and improving our defensive side since the mid-season break and it was great to see the whole team commit to executing the game plan so successfully for both halves’.
New York Magpies vs OC Bombers
With OC beating the Denver Bulldogs in their first game, the Saturday afternoon clash between the Magpies and the Bombers became extra important as the winning team would have the inside running to make the Division 1 final. One forced change was made to the Magpies team as the injured Glenn Caldwell was replaced by Jamie Spataro. The wind had picked up and was favoring one end but co-captain Smith was lucky enough to win the toss and the Magpies kicked with the wind first up. New York capitalized early with a goal to Routledge before OC locked down and held the Magpies to 5 points for the remainder of the quarter despite the best efforts of Mike Fraietta and Paul Guarino. The Magpie defense of Nick Walker, McMaster, Felsenthal and Davis kept the Bombers from scoring and gave New York a chance in the second half. At half time the Pies led 1.5 11 to no score.
With OC kicking with the aid of the breeze in the second half the Magpies knew it would be defense that would win them the game and the midfielders stepped up their work around the ground with Taylor, McIntyre, Murphy and Tornay particularly strong in the contest. Eventually the Bombers pressure proved too much however and after a couple of points they managed to slot 2 straight goals and take the lead. The Pies had some chances towards the end of the game but couldn’t add to their half time score and when the siren went OC emerged victorious, winning 2.4 16 to 1.5 11.
Goals: Routledge 1
Best: Taylor, McIntyre, Kwiatkowski, Mitchell, Lehane
Co-captain McIntyre was disappointed with the result but proud of his team stating ‘we put it all in this afternoon and all credit needs to go to the Bombers who were the better team on the day. We’ll regroup and hope that Nashville can do us a favor tomorrow morning to give us a chance of making the final’.
New York Magpies vs Denver Bulldogs
After expecting the game to be one for pride only, New York and Denver ended up having something to play for after Nashville ran over the top of OC in the second half, winning 4.5 29 to 3.8 26 and giving both New York and Denver the chance to make the final (Denver had beaten Nashville on Day 1). With an extremely stiff breeze blowing the coin toss became extra important and Denver had the first up win, selecting correctly and choosing to kick with the breeze. New York decided to play Routledge as a spare man in defense and the strategy worked with Denver unable to penetrate the Magpies defense despite all the play being in one half of the ground. New York’s stable defense of McMaster, Felsenthal, Lehane, Smith, Walker, Davis and Fraietta maintained their strong chemistry and held the Bulldogs to a couple of points before Denver kicked over the mass of defenders to register their first goal. After what seemed like an eternity the half time siren blew with the Magpies having kept the Bulldogs to 1.5 11. Despite despite not scoring New York were confident of their chances going into the second half with the wind.
The Bulldogs adopted a similar defensive mindset in the second half and had 3 loose men in the New York forward line before the Magpies moved players back to keep them accountable. The result was all 36 players in the 50 metre circle and the Magpies could not score a goal, recording 2 points to around the halfway point of the term. After a clearance from the Bulldogs the Magpies pumped the ball in quickly, managing to spot up Taylor who kicked truly before a similar passage of play saw the ball land in the arms of Tom Burke, an inclusion from the Division 3 team after some strong form. Burke took his time going back and kicked truly to give the Magpies a lead, one they held onto until the end, running out winners 2.2 14 to 1.6 12. Despite the low score, the Magpies had done enough to make the Division 1 final on percentage.
Goals: Taylor 1, Burke 1
Best: Routledge, Felsenthal, Burke, Scott, McMaster
Ruckman Alex Kwiatkowski was ecstatic with the win after all seemed lost after the Saturday games saying ‘you just never know what can happen in footy and I think ultimately we just wanted it more than Denver did. It was a really good team effort with all players putting in 100% and we managed to tough it out’.
New York Magpies vs Dallas Magpies – FINAL
With hurricane wind’s threatening the final was brought forward by a couple of hours and the Texan team had the luck of the coin toss, chosing to kick with the very strong breeze in the first half. New York knew they would need to defend like crazy for the first half and hope that they had enough left to run over the top of Dallas in the second. Once again New York dropped a couple of extra defenders back and the game was played in one half of the ground. Time and time again New York via Felsenthal, McMaster and Routledge pumped the ball out of the back line only for it to be sent straight back in and the tackling was intense until the Dallas ruckman used the wind to his advantage, roosting a 60 metre spiral torpedo through the big sticks for the first goal. Despite falling behind New York kept up their intense effort, keeping Dallas to a couple of points until Dallas strung together a couple of late goals to lead New York 3.3 21 to no score at half time.
Despite the deficit New York were confident going into the last half of footy for the tournament following their come from behind victory over Denver in their previous game. Again, all the play was in the goal scoring forward line and the congestion made it difficult for New York to convert on their strong forward pressure despite inspirational efforts from McIntyre and Kwiatkowski. Eventually the combination of the wind and New York’s desire proved too much and Walsh kicked the Magpies first, cutting the deficit to 2 goals. Murray marked shortly after and converted and when Walsh kicked his second with 8 minutes to go the Magpies had the running and it only seemed a matter of time before they overtook Dallas. Credit must go to Dallas however as they increased their level of effort over the last 5 minutes, holding New York to a single point and when the siren sounded it was the Texan team who cheered, beating New York 3.4 22 to 3.2 20.
Goals: Walsh 2, Murray 1
Best: McIntyre, Walsh, Felsenthal, Taylor
Coach Ormsby, while devastated to have lost a close one, was proud of his charges stating that ‘the whole team really gave its all and there was nothing more I could have asked for or done to get the win. There is no doubt that this loss will act as strong motivation for 2013 and we hope to go one better next year’.
The story would prove not to be over after the game however as, in a final twist, the USAFL declared the 2012 USAFL National Championship Division 1 title vacant after an investigation determined that Dallas had played an ineligible player. Full details about the decision can be found here on the USAFL website.
On a sunny, humid September day the Magpies and Lady Pies resumed action, taking on their Boston opponents for the second time in 2012. The Magpies put in a strong four quarter performance to notch up a resounding win over Boston while the Lady Pies showed their improvement and potential, sticking with the ladder leading Lady Demons for 2 of 4 quarters.
The Lady Pies were the first to take the ground in an 11-a-side match after a slight wet weather delay. With veterans Casillas and Licata manning the center half back and center half forward positions, the Lady Pies aimed to capitalize on the hard work of Alison Vorsatz’s center taps. Onballers Sofia Ridwan and Sam Wolf showed courage in the middle fighting for possession on the soggy ground. While the Lady Demons came away kicking in the first quarter for a 19-point lead, the Lady Pies held steady in the second and third quarters allowing only one major and one minor score. Lady Pies’ fullback, Autumn Ervin, showed poise under pressure in the backline all match earning her Best on Ground for the black and white. The Boston Ladies managed to pull away in the fourth quarter despite the stellar defensive effort by the Lady Pies for a final score of 6.5.41 to 1.2.8
Next up the men’s team took on their strongest traditional rival, the Boston Demons, with pride and many years of history to live up to. The Magpies got off to a good start with ruckman Alex Kwiatkowski providing good service to his midfielders Jack Taylor, Jordan McIntyre and Ojas ‘Juice’ Desai who in turn delivered the ball well to forwards Sam Mitchell, Adam Routledge and Chris Walsh. With forward pocket Tai Scott putting in a strong performance the Magpies quickly jumped out to lead by a couple of goals. Up the other end of the ground the Magpies defence was holding strong despite an early injury to full back Scott McMaster. Centre half back Nick Walker and stand-in full back Bryan Caine defended ably while co-captain Todd Smith provided plenty of run out of defence. At quarter time the Magpies lead 3.2 20 while the Demons were yet to trouble the scorers.
The game tightened up in the second quarter as the humidity began to affect the players and the center of the ground in particular became congested. Quick kicks out of ball ups became the order of the day and debutant Kerrin Hughes and Richard Marian provided the best examples allowed Mitchell and Woolley to notch up majors. After Boston put through their first of the day, the half-time score was New York 5.4 34 to Boston 1.2 8.
As part of the preparations for Nationals coach Glenn Ormsby challenged the Magpies to think of the second half as a brand new game with the score reset to nil all. The Magpies responded to bang on the first couple of goals of the quarter via Mitchell and Walsh while Paul Guarino and Hamish Keith were inserted into the middle and found plenty of the ball. Once again the backline was holding strong with Myles Walkington, Jeremy Spiteri, Glenn Caldwell and Oliver Tresco covering their Boston opponents well and preventing any goals from being scored. The Magpies managed to add a couple of goals late in the quarter via Guarino and Walsh to lead by 8 goals at the last break.
Co-captains McIntyre and Smith set the team a challenge in the last quarter, kick 6 goals and prevent Boston from scoring and the Magpies responded, bursting out of the blocks and dominating possession for the first ten minutes. Keith and Rob Donner added goals while Mitchell kicked his fourth for the day. Loose marking, which will surely be a focus at training, resulted in Boston travelling the length of the ground to kick their second for the day against the run of play. New York responded however adding 2 more goals for the quarter to run out winners, 14.10 94 to 2.5 17.
Coach Ormsby was pleased with his team’s performance saying ‘the boys really executed a couple of things we’ve been working on at training well today and I was happy with our fast starts to quarters, an area which has cost the team at previous Nationals. It was also pleasing to give a significant number of players some decent game time as competition increases for spots’.
Goal Kickers: Mitchell 4, Routledge 3, Walsh 2, Guarino, Woolley, Keith, Marian, Donner
Best Players: Mitchell, McIntyre, Routledge, Smith, Walsh, Kwiatkowski
Written by Myles Walkington
Photos by Autumn Ervin