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With multiple field issues, only three games were in DI Club on the east coast. In a non-conference test, NYAC looked to avenge its loss last season to Rocky Gorge. At Travers Island in New York, NYAC welcomed Gorge to the Empire State with a 65-0 blowout. In the Mid-Atlantic, Wilmington picked up its first DI victory over Rocky Gorge, 39-5, and Baltimore-Chesapeake came back from a first half deficit to beat Norfolk, 45-29. The Mystic River versus Boston Irish and Schuylkill River versus Potomac Exiles were postponed/cancelled due to field condition issues.
After losing 36-33 last March in Maryland, NYAC had Saturday’s game against Rocky Gorge marked on their calendars. At Travers Island in New York, NYAC scored ten tries on the way to a 65-0 shutout.
“We really dominated the game from moment one,” NYAC coach Mike Quinn said. “We were really good today and were really clinical. But, it’s important to remember to mental side of the game. Rocky Gorge beat us last season when we went to them and we were saying there is no way they are going to win on our home pitch.”
“We were up for the game big time and we put together a really nice performance,” Quinn continued. “The key was that we didn’t allow Rocky Gorge to get into a groove. They are a good side and really well coached. I know they were missing one or two star players, but we didn’t let them get into a groove. We dominated possession and were hungry from the win.”
Although, the victory was based on an overall team effort, a few name stood out for NYAC. US Eagle Nate Brakeley, Nick Wolley, and a three-try scorer Ross Deacon had noteworthy game in the forwards and Harry Bennett and Chris Mattina excelled in the backline.
Speaking with Gorge head coach Nick DiMichele following the loss, he said, “We can't continue to turn the ball over and win, especially against a team like NYAC. Having an undefeated season means nothing. It’s all about getting to the National Quarterfinals and how you compete there. NYAC showed us that we are not ready. We took it on the chin but and we needed it. A lot strings were pulled to make this game happen I wish we could have given NYAC a better match. We'll take what we can from this experience and get better.”
With NYAC and Mystic already qualified for Nationals, NYAC is focused on being ready for Pittsburgh on May 21st with the ultimate goal of hoisting the National Championship trophy. Two of the biggest foes standing in its way are its rivals to the North and beasts in the Red River.
“We’ve heard a lot about the [Austin] Huns, they have some seriously good players and recruited very well,” Quinn exclaimed. “We want to challenge ourselves against the best teams. To be honest in the Atlantic North, Mystic River is an exceptional side and the current National Champions and rightly so. We beat them twice in autumn and both of those games were so close. The score lines didn’t suggest how tight the games were. In order to win the National Championship, you got to beat and be good enough to beat Mystic and the Huns. We know that.”
With three away games on the schedule for Rocky Gorge on Saturday, it split its DII squad and a contingent of Old Boys to play Wilmington in DI and NOVA in DII. Neither game went well for Gorge.
With plenty of history between Gorge and Wilmington from DII, Wilmington blasted its old rival, 39-5, behind five-try effort from outside center Martwain Johnson. The victory is Wilmington’s first since being promoted to DI.
Wilmington led the entire match with Johnson running like a man possessed. Dan Kelly and Todd Collins also contribute to the tally and Tom Parry added two conversions.
“We took care of possession and had a better physical effort and focus,” Wilmington coach Bob Weir said, “A win for WRFC means our hard work has been rewarded for this week. Next week, we need to refocus take care of business and be physical if we want W’s to be a trend.”
After being down 24-19 at the half, Baltimore-Chesapeake fought back with 26 points in the second half to win, 45-29. “It was a well-earned long overdue win,” BC captain Tyler Barberi said. “After last weekend’s loss to Potomac, the team was hungry and they came ready to battle today.”
Norfolk’s Eric Hagen and James Irey began the match with tries for the early 12-0 lead. BC responded with back-to-back scores from Ryan Burns and John Sharkey and two conversions from Eric Sweeney to give the home team the 14-12 advantage.
The momentum switched back to the Blues as Anthony Sandoval and Dutch Jones scored in the next 15 minutes. BC got the last try of the half at the buzzer when John Drury dotted the ball down to trail Norfolk, 24-19.
BC took the lead again nine minutes into the second half with an Evan Harkum try and Sweeny conversion and then added to it as Jay Bumgartner scored in the 66th minute. Norfolk’s Herman Sandoval would cut the tally to 31-29 a couple minutes later, but Sharkey’s second try at 72’ gave BC some breathing room. A dagger try by Joe Hughes at the whistle added punctuation to BC’s 43-29 victory.
“We had great defensive line speed and everyone worked hard the entire game,” Barberi stated. “We were strong in the pack and the backs had a great attacking game. Our main takeaway is that we can play with anybody in the MAC and win. We had a great week of practice and you could tell it carried onto the field.”