New York begins their 2015 campaign this Saturday with a visit to the Boston Whitecaps and hope to dig their perennial rival into an even deeper hole.
The Rumble will meet a Boston squad still licking its wounds after a brutal two-game road series on opening weekend. Falling to both the Philadelphia Spinners and the D.C. Current by one-goal, the Whitecaps have stumbled to an 0-2 record out of the gate.
But, as New York coach Anthony Nuñez knows, underestimating the Whitecaps is a dangerous proposition.
“We expect a very hungry, hardworking Whitecaps team,” Nuñez said. “Starting the season 0-2 means they worked even harder this week, and we have to be ready for them.”
After two seasons of finishing in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference, the Rumble are hunting for their first playoff berth in team history. The road to the playoffs, however, will go through Medford, Mass., where the Whitecaps have traditionally been dominant.
The Rumble will enter this game without the services of some key players like Robbie Gillies, Quinn Hunziker, David Vuckovich, Marques Brownlee and Jake Herman. To compensate, the Rumble will look for key contributions from returners Chris Mazur, Michael Hennessy and Markian Kuzmowycz. The veterans will be aided by a fresh crop of rookies, including Chris Kocher and Simon Johansen.
Mazur predicted a strong showing from the new Rumble players this weekend.
“Rookies will only be rookies for a single quarter of play,” Mazur said. “After that, they will realize very quickly we’re still playing the same game of ultimate we love.”
“You can expect a big game out of our full roster,” Nuñez said. “Each player on this team knows his role and is expected to accomplish his individual goals.”
Though the Rumble were set to host Boston this week for their home opener, a last-minute schedule change moved the game to Hormel Stadium, the Whitecaps’ home turf. Despite the new location, Nuñez said the team would enter this weekend’s contest unfazed.
“This year’s team is very mentally strong, and it doesn’t matter if we are home or away,” he added. “We know that we cannot control the uncontrollable, and we’ll just adapt to the situation.”
For those interested in attending the game, tickets are currently on sale on the Whitecap’s TicketLeap page. Fans can also visit the Whitecaps website for driving directions and parking information for Hormel Stadium.