Last Regular Match of the Summer LeagueBy Jameson Hurley
After 5 weeks of battle, and 15 matches played in rain, boiling heat, and swampy conditions, the three teams of the Nashville GAC descended on Heartland Fields for the final week of regular season play. Going into the day, the Ports were guaranteed a spot in the championship match, while the mighty Blue Notes looked to be well positioned to secure the second spot. Captain Gill’s Leesiders would need to win both of their matches and see the Notes lose both of theirs in order to move to the second spot on the table. Would the Leesiders muster enough grit and determination, along with a little bit of luck to advance, or would Captain Joley’s Notes capture a victory and thus a spot in the inaugural season’s championship match?
Every player knew what was at stake in the first match of the day as the Blue Notes faced the Leesiders. The match started with quick pace, and lots of back and forth play, but neither team was able to score. Minutes ticked by as shots were blocked and balls went wide. It was the Leesiders who eventually opened the scoring when C.s. Kammerzell put the sliothar over the bar. A quick response for the Note’s Jamie Norris, however, made it clear that this contest would not be settled quietly. Both sides, determined to play again in two weeks’ time, battled hard, but the Blue Notes ability to crack the Leesider defense and put shots on goal proved to be the deciding factor. Final score Leesiders 2-12 (18) v. Blue Notes 5-7 (22), and with that the Notes earned a spot in the championship match.
A down, but not beaten, Leesider team regrouped and prepared for the second match of the day. Sure, they could no longer make the championship, but an opportunity for a spirit raising victory still existed. Close followers of the league know that the Ports defeated the Leesiders in each of their previous 5 matches. And with that in mind, Captain Gill rallied his team and charged them with winning their final match of the summer. Would the team in white and red find that elusive victory and finish the season on a high note, or would Captain Ouellette’s Ports salt their open wounds?
The match unfolded like so many between these two sides, as players arrived ready to work and evenly matched. The match featured crisp play, effective passing, and brilliant scoring as both sides worked to spoil the other’s day. With 2 minutes to go, the sides were tied. A point for the Ports put them in the lead, followed by a quick answer from the Leesiders. With time nearly expired, the Leesiders were awarded a 65; this would surely be the final play of the day. Johnny Sticks, unable to get a clean lift from the heavy grass, was forced to pull straight away on the ground. It was Sam D’Amico who used his quick feet to win that ball. A pass to the good Dr. Wall, who was perched in the center of the field, resulted in a Leesider point. With that, a final puck out for the Ports was followed by the referee’s fulltime whistle. Leesiders 2-9 (15) v. Ports 2-8 (14).
While the final match of the day would have no impact on the standings, it would offer a preview of the championship match. The Ports and the Blue Notes took to the field for this blue on blue battle. These two tough sides showed all in attendance how they earned their spots in the championship match. Hard, precise play from both sides kept the game tight throughout. While many were wowed by Timothy Ryan Buckley’s massive puck outs, and Jamie Norris’ punishing scores, this reporter was most impressed by the play of the two Mollys (Webb and Bombardi) and Katie Sampuda, who fought hard for every ball, and made massive contributions to their respective teams. The score line was tight throughout the game, but in the end, it was the Blue Notes who edged out the Ports 4-5 (17) to 3-4 (13).
After another amazing day of hurling, the final is set. The championship match will see the Ports face the Blue Notes in what is sure to be a fantastic match. Join us at Heartland Fields in two weeks time on Sunday, August 3 at 4:00.