The general consensus from all teams playing at Randall’s Island (and most of the fans) on 9/10 was that it was oppressively hot.  The temperature said 88 degrees Fahrenheit but the real feel was 4th circle of Hell.   It wasn’t a flawless start for the Leonas, getting back into the Fifteens flow took about 12 minutes due to a number of penalties from both sides.

Although the Village forwards were outsized by the Danbury pack, the persistence, team fitness, and ability to stick to the game plan worked in the Lions favor. A theme throughout the match was the smaller players of the Lions using speed and spatial awareness to gain points. The Lion’s pack players showed particular skill in the line out as jumper Tricia Stanley won line-outs flawlessly. The  Lions spent most of their time inside the 22m looking for space and crashing into Danbury’s powerful players to win the game.  

At halftime, Backs coach Mike “Cherry” Stevenson, remarked that the first half was, “Hot, sweaty, sticky, but super positive so far.”  No one could argue with that as the score was 20-0 at that point.

Although both team’s looked weary during the halftime break, the Lions returned to the field with enormous energy.  The second half was a series of flash attacks by the Lions forwards. Super fan and NYRC player, Willie Dominguez, commented on the conditions and how the Lions were playing stating, “It’s really hot and it could get sloppy really quick, but you guys are doing a good job of holding onto it.  Whereas the other team keeps dropping [the ball] you guys are diving on it every time which is perfect.  You keep putting pressure in this game.”

Despite the sweltering heat and exhaustion, around the 70th minute Danbury kicked off, kept the ball and the Lions moved to counter attack.  Danbury’s 10 kicked the ball through the lions defensive line right at the 22.  Fullback, Ciara Lehane, caught the ball off its second bounce and approached the space at the middle of the field.  She sent a long kick over Danbury’s back to the right side of the field and made a run for the ball.  Rookie winger, Amanda Manu, followed in support. Ciara entered the try zone and faked a Danbury defender, centering the ball under the posts at the 77th minute for the final try of the game. Erin McGee commented, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”  Ciara followed the try with a centered conversion kick – which was actually the coolest thing we’d ever seen.

The Leonas kicked off Friends & Family and the Lions season opener with a hot wet American sweep. Final score: Lions 59- Danbury 0

Woman of the Match: Tara “Fraggle” Harten
Silent Force: Emmarie Etheridge

Starting line-up (in order of position starting with #1): Quin Works, Alli Baer, Sierra Cutler, Theresa “T” Cassano, Desiree Vodounon, Ari Ray, Tara “Fraggle” Harten, Tricia Stanley, Emmarie Etheridge, Aislinn Smith, Erika Kocher, Victoria Dushku, Megan “Canada” Banford, Samantha Haughton, Jo Hayes

Substitutes: Jessica “Cookie” Burke, Angela Corpus, Samantha O’Brien, Erin McGee, Stephanie Diu, Melissa Humphries, Ciara Lehane, Amanda Manu

Score/Sub Summary:
12 mins Alli Baer scores try
23 mins Emmarie Etheridge scores try
31 mins  Emmarie Etheridge scores try
31 mins sub Ari out Mcgee in
34 mins sub Quin Works out Sam O’Brien  in
35 mins Megan “Canada” Banford scores try

At halftime rugby rookie Amanda Manu came in at wing for Erika Kocher.

42 mins Tricia Stanley scores try
52 mins Tricia Stanley scores try + conversion (Ais)
60 mins Tara “Fraggle” Harten scores try
60 mins subs Sam Haughton out and Melissa in
64 mins Trish Stanley scores try
67 mins subs:
Sierra Cutler out and Jessica “Cookie” Burke in
Theresa Cassano out and Stephanie Diu in
Jo Hayes out and Ciara Lehane in
70 mins Megan “Canada” Banford scores try
74 mins Tara “Fraggle” Harten scores try
77 mins Ciara Lehane scores try + conversion (Ciara Lehane)

Photo by Andy Wagner.