Photo by Burt Granofsky –

Two weeks ago the New York Rumble (2-5) were in position to leapfrog the suddenly mortal Boston Whitecaps (4-3) into first place in the Eastern Conference.

After Saturday’s depressing 23-6 blowout loss to the very same Whitecaps, the Rumble can only wonder at how quickly they’ve fallen.

Christian Foster and Brandon Malecek each tallied six points for the Boston, which took a 13-4 lead into half and never looked back en route to their largest margin of victory this season.

“Hats off to Boston. They played a fantastic game,” said Rumble handler Chris Mazur. “They couldn’t do anything wrong tonight, and we couldn’t do anything right.”

Mustering only six points, the lowest total in league history, New York struggled to string passes together and catch easy throws, needing eight and a half minutes just to put their first goal on the board. With the loss, the Rumble dropped into sole possession of last place in the East.

The Rumble squad that traveled to Medford, Mass. was a far cry from the team that beat the Whitecaps 18-17 in Week 4.

Missing 13 players, including key contributors Joe Anderson, Robbie Gillies, Ben Faust and Quinn Hunziker, the Rumble seemed directionless and mistake-prone. A pair of drops by Sean Murray and Lucas Murphy on their first two possessions allowed Boston to take a 2-0 lead just 1:13 into the game.

The deficit only grew from there.

By the time handler Isaac Saul hit newcomer Evan Walter with 30 seconds left to avert the rare first-quarter shutout, the Whitecaps had already notched the first six goals of the game, with star handlers Jeff Graham and Malecek each assisting on two.

Though drops would continue to plague the Rumble, the Whitecaps offense was chilly and crisp throughout. Complementing the consistent performances of Jeff Graham, Josh Markette and Brandon Malacek was a breakout effort from Boston cutter Eric Stevens. Stevens scored four goals, three more than his entire season total coming into the night.

It took all of 25 seconds for Stevens and the Whitecaps to respond to New York’s first goal, as the D-line cutter snagged a dime from Henry Brecher to close out the first period with a 7-1 advantage.

Stevens would also tack on a buzzer-beating goal at the end the second quarter, laying out for the disc as it sailed over a crowd of Rumble defenders.

By then, the only suspense remaining was whether the game would be called off at half due to a sudden downpour during the intermission. Perhaps the Rumble would have been better served never coming out of the locker room, because their play remained as miserable as the conditions.

Mazur, however, dismissed the conditions as a factor in the Whitecaps’ dominance.

“Don’t give rain credit, don’t give the weather credit. They played in the exact same conditions we did, and they kicked the crap out of us,” Mazur said after the game.

“Boston won that game, and we lost it. There’s not much else to say. They played great, and we couldn’t catch a disc. If you don’t catch a disc more than twice in a quarter, you’re not going to win the game.”

Rumble Coach Anthony Nuñez also stressed the team’s catching woes.

“Drops are what caused us to lose this game. We had about 12 or 13 drops,” he said. “Even with their strong start, we’d have two or three chances to score. They just executed better.”

A few bright spots for the Rumble emerged as lines opened up in the second half.

Defensive cutter Marques Brownlee, recently named the Division III Metro-East Player of the Year at Stevens Tech, filled in on offensive points and scored off a pretty backhand huck from Murray to open the third quarter.

Little-used defensive handler Matthew Baum also found the end zone with 3:29 left in the third on an upline feed from Saul for the Rumble’s sixth point of the game.

That would be the last time the Rumble scored.

Fittingly, the Whitecaps closed out the game the way they started, embarking on an 8-0 run as all but the bravest fans at Hormel Stadium headed for shelter from the rain.

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