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Scares and tight match-ups highlighted Saturday’s play in DI Men’s Club. Three teams remain unbeaten this season as Metropolis, Rocky Gorge, and Norfolk were victorious. NYAC and Pittsburgh picked up their first wins while Columbus, Kansas City, and Chicago kept pace with the conference frontrunner.
In the second week of ARP play, NYAC rebounded from last weekend’s debacle to pick up a road win against Mystic River. 33-15. After a defensive battle started the match, Jon Kokinda’s penalty at 29’ broke the stalemate for the Mystic 3-0 lead. Not to be denied, NYAC battled back at the end of the half to score a Nate Brakeley try at the whistle.
With the momentum coming out of the break, NYAC dotted down three tries via Greg Voigt, Anthony Perry, and Kirk Hamilton in the first ten minutes of the second half for a dominating 26-3 tally. Another NYAC try by Ross Deacon at 56’ was the final nail in the coffin for Mystic, but it did refocus to score two tries late to close the gap.
When asked for his thoughts on the match, NYAC head coach Chris Edwards said, "Mystic showed plenty of heart and are a big, physical team that are always very challenging at home. Our forwards muscled up and took control of the breakdown and middle of the field for the first 60 minutes, which allowed us to open up the edges for the final quarter. Quentin Pradere was sensational in the centers, while new recruit Jack Weigold stood out in the forwards in his first start."
"Huge improvements in our ball control and defensive effort from Old Blue," Edwards added. "Guys were willing to stand up and make open field tackles and our defensive pressure forced turnovers we were able to capitalize on. Forwards set the platform all game."
With the win, NYAC pulls even to 1-1 on the season and Mystic is 0-1 with the Glendale Merlins on deck this coming Saturday.
Rocky Gorge and Norfolk remained unbeaten in the Mid-Atlantic, while Pittsburgh handled visiting Washington Irish. The Potomac Exiles were on bye.
For the second week in a row, Rocky Gorge used its strong bench to survive a scare, this time at the hands of Baltimore-Chesapeake. BC rode the boot of Mount St. Mary’s product Tito Miranda to a 9-3 lead 60 minutes in. With less than 20 minutes left, the Gorge comeback was on as the visitors emptied its bench. The reserves breathed new life into the team as captain and #8 Josh Brown’s try grabbed the lead and scores from Ben Cima and Bryan Perez put exclamation points on the match. Cima converted all three tries and has not missed a kick this season.
Commenting on the second half revitalization, Brown explained, “In the second half, we kind of did what we did last week; relied on our impact players [off the bench]... The last 15 minutes really came down to conditioning. You don’t have to try to get hyped up for this game. We’re next-door neighbors, if you don’t get hyped up for this game, you don’t have a pulse because the rivalry is always there.”
After an early double-digit lead, Norfolk survived a resurgence from Schuylkill River and managed a 29-28 victory in Philadelphia, Pa. “We started off pretty strong, had some strong runs with our backs,” Norfolk coach Chris Porter said. “Our forwards took some good ball up to set the platform. I felt we were controlling the game. But typical Schuylkill River—no give up.”
Schuylkill played the majority of the match a man down due to a red card and showed great heart to fight for all 80 minutes. However, it was a tactical sub at halftime that really keyed the near-comeback. “They brought on two fresh props and put huge pressure on our scrums and set piece play. We did not play well enough to clear the zone. They took advantage of every mistake we made and put in some tries,” said Porter.
Pittsburgh evened its record to 1-1 with a home win over Washington Irish. The teams traded points all day but the experience and talent of the Harlequins was on display for the victory. Brandon Stine, Zach Jessell, Evan McNenly, and Jason Krut scored for the hosts and Ted Sheedy tacked on two penalties and two conversions.
Columbus, the Chicago Lions, Metropolis and the Kansas City Blues won across the Midwest on Saturday. Metropolis is 5-0, but the Lions remain hot on their heels at 4-1, while the Blues and Columbus improved to 3-2.
The Milwaukee Barbarians came up just short in Columbus, Ohio, losing 38-35 to Columbus-Scioto Valley. It looked like Columbus might cruise to the win, as it jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first 22 minutes. But Milwaukee battled back and closed it to 17-14 by the 35th minute mark.
That score held until 51’ when Justin Stevens’ try and the conversion by scrummy Luke Hickey extended Columbus’ lead to 24-14. Milwaukee then used back-to-back tries, both converted, to jump on top 28-24. It was Columbus’ turn to put 14 points on the board as Hickey converted tries from Kevin Fessenmeyer and Tevita Maitavuki. The second score at 75’ was enough for the Columbus victory, though the Barbarians fought to the end with another converted try to close the final margin to 38-35.
The Chicago Lions hosted the Palmer Dragons in Chicago, Illinois. After an early Dragons’ lead via the boot of David Jerson, Chicago defended home field with a 34-13 win. Fullback JP Eloff answered Jerson’s penalty kick with two of his own, then #10 Harrison Deck scored the game’s first try at 20’. Jerson closed the gap with another PK before halftime, and the 13-6 Lions’ lead held until 59’. Chicago then put in two converted tries from centers Joel Cohen and Dan Coci to open up the score line. Palmer responded with a try at 70’, but the damage was done and the Lions tacked on another try from Man of the Match Jake Hidalgo for the exclamation point.
“We played in the right areas of the field and moved their defense around with our game plan,” said Lions’ coach Dave Clancy. “That allowed us to attack them in the wider channels, as was evident from four tries coming from the backline players. We feel that had we been more patient with the amount of possession and territory we had in the game, the score would have been a lot greater. That said, we are happy to see more improvement week to week, so it bodes well for the rest of our season.”
A home match in Chicago, Illinois was not enough to stop the bleeding in the Griffins’ tough start to the season. The Kansas City Blues scored early of often and just nine minutes in, wing Sean Murray and flanker Walter Elder already scored, and the visitors did not look back from there.
Wing Evan Ernstmann (2), inside center David McDonough, flanker Scott Kendrick, flyhalf Michael Mercer, Murray again, fullback Brendan Nachbar, and outside center Greg Fry (3) finished up the scoring for Kansas City. Mercer hit five of his conversions, with Murray and Nachbar tacking on one apiece.
Metropolis continued its strong start to the season with another blowout win, this one at home over the Cincinnati Wolfhounds, 54-10. Metropolis ripped off eight tries as six players got in on the act. Prop Kavika Peniata got the scoring started four minutes in, followed by Melvin Desouza (2), Conor McGill, Trace Bolstad, Joeli Tikoisuva, and Pita Naruma (2). Fullback Bryant Ptomey, Jr. was 7/8 on conversions. Metropolis will look to keep its undefeated run going with a home match against Columbus on Saturday.