Photo by Sean Carpenter – UltiPhotos.com
New York tested their skill against Rutgers Machine in a preseason game, delivering a 21-7 win on a cold and windy game.
Only one week away from their season opener at Boston, the Rumble traveled to the Rutgers Busch Campus to get a feel for their team’s ability against an opponent.
“It was good to get touches. Good to work with the refs in the mix,” said 2013 Eastern Conference MVP Chris Mazur.
The game would open with a deep pull into the wind from the Rumble’s Quinn Hunziker. While at times the wind gusted at 22 miles per hour, the Rumble didn’t have a problem. However, some nerves on the opening drive contributed to errant throws and drops for each team before Rutgers would score the first goal. A few more turnovers plagued the second drive, including a Rumble drop in the end zone, but moments later Mazur would feed one to Milo Snyder for the Rumble’s first score.
Rutgers was not intimidated, marching down on a patient 13-pass drive, yet the Rumble assembled their own 11-pass drive that would tie the game at two. Rutgers would follow up with a long huck to go up 3-2 in what would be their last lead of the game. On the following drive, possession changed hands a few times before Mazur delivered a long throw to Markian Kuzmowycz who made a spectacular bobbling catch on his knees. Moments later Mazur would connect with Kuzmowycz again to tie the score at three.
The Rumble’s Ignacio Yz would score twice to extend the lead to 6-3. Yz, who battled injuries last year, felt relieved to be well-rested and fully conditioned for the coming season.
“This season’s goal is to bring smart cutting. Smart cutting leads to goals. We want to make the handler’s lives easier,” said Yz, who had three goals on the day.
New York’s defense was on top of their game. When Rutgers threatened to score on a long possession, Adrian Banerji cut it short with a clutch block at the goal line. He would immediately pick up and launch one past midfield to Hunziker who caught the disc over two Rutgers defenders. Banerji would run the length of the field to get the score that would keep them in control at 7-3.
With a little over four minutes left in the second quarter, Rutgers made a quick drive to their fourth goal. The Rumble would follow up with Kevin Riley throwing low to Dave Vuckovich who made a shoestring catch that the referees would dispute but ultimately rule a goal. Behind 10-4, Rutgers would get antsy, throwing incomplete hammers on their following two possessions before the end of the half.
The weather was once again a factor to open the second half with more unforced errors from both teams. After a few more Rumble scores, Rutgers continued to struggle when backed up in their end zone. The Rumble’s Matthew Wilson deflected and caught an easy Callahan to put the Rumble in a commanding 14-4 lead. Rutgers kept fighting with a rally of three consecutive scores to inch as close as 14-7. They continued to piece drives together but could not finish against a tough Rumble defense that held them scoreless for the rest of the game.
Rumble Coach Anthony Nuñez, who coached his alma mater Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey to 11 consecutive state championships and one National Championship, stated that the game in New Jersey was a thrill.
“I love the game and being in the birthplace of Ultimate is emotional. It’s good to see the Rutgers players and program grow. This game shows that college teams can give us a run.”
“It was good to play a different team than someone we’ll see during the season. We’ve been working four to five weeks on different strategies and now we can throw everything at them and make it crisp without giving away our secrets,” added Nuñez.
New York’s strategy was indeed coming together by the end of the game. They dominated the last quarter as they distributed points between six players to end the game at 21-7. They looked comfortable and poised even with the harsh weather. Based on this showing, Coach Nuñez has a lot to look forward to as this Rumble squad travel to Boston on April 12.