Photo by Jason Honyotski – UltiPhotos
In their home opener, the New York Rumble won 24-23 in a double overtime game against the Philadelphia Spinners in Union City, New Jersey.
After the Spinners clawed back in the second half to bring the game to double overtime, Rumble rookie Quinn Hunziker found 2013 Eastern Conference MVP Chris Mazur in the end zone in sudden death overtime to lift New York over the Philadelphia.
Twice, once at the end of the fourth quarter and once in the first overtime, the Rumble entered the final minute of play with one goal in mind – hold Philadelphia out of the end zone, and take home the W. Each time, the Philadelphia Spinners’ Matt Esser reeled in goals that tied the contest up and gave fans more Ultimate on a beautiful spring evening in Union City. In the end, the Rumble held strong and pulled out the victory in their home opener.
The New York Rumble honored Chris Mazur and his mother before the game, allowing her to do the opening disc flip to determine who would open the game on offense. She was then presented with a special Chris Mazur jersey.
Pre-game was also special for the Rumble’s Sean Murray who played with the Philadelphia Spinners last year.
“It was good to catch up with them before the game,” he said. “I really enjoyed battling [Jake] Rainwater and Art [Shull] and to contain their strengths. I definitely didn’t want to lose to my old team.”
The game would open with back and forth scores, but at 4-4, the Spinners’ momentum would slip away until the fourth quarter. The Rumble would go up by two after a sensational play where Murray’s long throw to the end zone was deflected but Adrian Banerji backed it up and caught the falling disc. At the end of the first quarter, the Rumble led 6-4.
A questionable foul call helped the Rumble get to the goal line where they would score on a mix of dump swings between Robbie Gillies and Mike Hennessy. Gillies ultimately caught a short swing to put the Rumble ahead 9-5.
The lively home crowd’s “D-Fense” chant led to a few Spinners incompletions. One turnover would help Mike Hennessey find David Vuckovich for an 11-8 lead.
The Spinners looked rattled early but were efficient at scoring at the end of the quarters. With ten seconds left before the end of the first half, Patrick Diviney threw a cross-field hammer at the goal line to Mike Baer to inch Philly within two points at 9-11.
The Rumble would burst open in the third quarter with strong drives and had their biggest lead at 16-11 after Kevin Riley launched a huck from midfield to Jonathan Cox. With ten seconds left in the third quarter, the Spinners would again throw a goal, this time from Alex Peters to Ian McClellan, closing in at 15-17.
“Defense was getting turnover opportunities,” said Murray. “We maintained our two point leads. We just made some abnormal mistakes later.”
After a Spinners score that brought them within one, they pulled to Chris Mazur who, in a wild turn of events, dropped the disc. The Spinners punched in a score to tie the game at 17 with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Down 20-21 with 38 seconds left, the Spinners called timeout. With only four seconds left on the clock, Matt Esser scored to tie the game at 21.
“Going into overtime, it was the same approach for offense,” said Mike Hennessy, who had two scores in the fourth quarter and three overall. “We felt in control of the game the entire time. We wanted to play exactly how we did at the beginning.”
Philly received the first pull of the five-minute overtime and drove to score, capturing their first lead since their first quarter. The Rumble would answer with a huck to Rob Gillies. Tied at 22, Ben Faust intercepted a Spinners pass close to the Spinners end zone and then floated a goal to Mazur who would score with 1:15 left.
Getting another possession and hoping to waste away the clock, the Rumble’s Iggy Yz threw a short, incomplete pass. Close to the end zone, Esser once again scored on a pass from David Brandolph in the final seconds to tie the game at 23.
After the game, Rumble Head Coach Anthony Nuñez had a few concerns about the officiating. He believed that Brandolph had not released the disc in time.
“No professional sport has perfect calls, but officials try to get it as close to perfect,” said Nuñez.
In the second period of overtime, Quinn Hunziker was fouled while looking for a cutter. He walked the disc up to the Philly goal line, the whistle blew, and while Spinners players were standing around, Hunziker hit Mazur with a walk off goal to win 24-23. Philly players argued a miscommunication between them and the referees on the play. They believed the whistle was for an injury timeout that wasn’t acknowledged. The referees huddled to discuss the play, but would eventually accept the winning goal.
“Philly clamped down, but we made plays,” said Murray. “It came down to grit. Everyone was tired but we needed to defend our home turf. Philly won the fourth quarter but we squeaked by.”
“They adjusted well to us. They brought their A-game and made us play hard,” said Nuñez. “This was of the hardest games in the Rumble’s two seasons.”
Looking forward to next week’s game, a rematch at Philadelphia, Nuñez said, “We have way too much talent to play this long a game. We’re gaining chemistry as we go. We’re ready to play the Spinners next week and we’re on the same page for sure.”