August 1, 2012 by Wes Cronk in Featured, News, Recap with 4 comments
There weren’t many empty seats in south Brooklyn as excited fans came out in force to catch Tuesday night’s exhibition matchup between New York’s perennial club open powerhouse, PoNY, and the visiting young-guns of the NexGen Tour — they would not leave disappointed.
Even though the hometown squad was unable to take down the band of college all-stars, who extended their recent winning streak to six games with a 15-13 victory, the crowd was treated to what felt like a two-hour highlight reel. Both sides had their share of huge plays and scoring runs but it was NexGen’s Eric Johnson that seemed to put the nail in PoNY’s coffin with his full-extension Callahan late in the game.
The game opened with a number of sloppy plays on both sides but each team managed to convert its initial offensive possession, tying the score at 1-1. After a long huck on the next point put PoNY up 2-1, momentum quickly started to shift in New York’s favor. Tim MacGougan’s D on the next point led to the first break of the game, putting PoNY up 3-1 and starting a run that would have them leading 8-3 going into the half.
Asked after the game how the veteran club lost a game in which they held a five point halftime lead, PoNY handler Chris Mazur summed it up perfectly: “It was definitely a tale of two halves.”
“We did a really great job on both sides of the disc in the first half,” PoNY captain Jack Marsh told Ultiworld following the game. Despite not having a handful of key players available for the game, PoNY went out and dominated the half with a methodical, efficient brand of Ultimate. Second-year NexGen player Dylan Freechild (Oregon / Rhino) said PoNY was the “most patient, disciplined team” they have seen on their tour.
That discipline helped throw NexGen out of its rhythm early in the game. “We kinda came out flat,” Freechild said with regard to his squad’s first half. “Not a lot of intensity… we weren’t playing together.” But that didn’t last. PoNY started to turn the disc over more in the second half as NexGen started running harder on both sides of the disc.
“It’s tough to play against a team with a ton of great players and they’re putting it up deep and it looks like fun,” Marsh said, suggesting that his team left the door open for NexGen by losing sight of the original game plan at the start of the second half. Mazur expressed a similar sentiment, explaining that “we got excited…and got away from the 100 percent throws and started putting up more 50/50’s.”
But NexGen did the opposite, reducing their turnovers and playing with much greater focus. “In the second half, they really started firing on all cylinders,” said Mazur. NexGen would end up scoring 7 of the first 8 points in the second half, rapidly erasing the deficit and draining any momentum PoNY had built up.
By the time Eric Johnson eventually gave NexGen their first lead of the game with a monster Callahan that made the score 10-9, it seemed inevitable that the college kids would continue their win streak.
But PoNY would not go down without a fight and responded to Johnson’s huge play by converting on the next possession. The teams would trade points in an intense, physical finish that produced highlight after highlight. With the score tied 12-12, a miscommunication by NexGen produced a turn that gave PoNY the disc near the endzone and the chance to reclaim the lead with a break. Unfortunately, they gave the disc right back and NexGen would not misstep twice as Tommy Li made a huge breakside throw to Tyler DeGirolamo that put them up for good.
A few points later, the game was over and NexGen was again victorious over a major club team, proving that no lead is safe when you’re playing against the impossibly talented youngsters.
NexGen is now 6-1, having lost only to Johnny Bravo, Denver’s club team. Next up: a match against the Philadelphia Spinners, the American Ultimate Disc League team, tomorrow night at 7:30 PM.