October 4, 2015
In what is shaping up to be a highly competitive season, the Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club marked the midway point with three thrilling matches on Sunday. The Ports, who suffered two losses last week, returned to form with back-to-back wins, while the Blue Notes, twice victorious the prior week suffered two loses. It was the Leesiders who found the winning way in the first match of the day causing a shift and tightening of the overall table. The action packed day saw all three teams put on magnificent displays of the ancient game, marking what should be a fantastic rundown to the final in the second half of the season.
Leesiders battle the Blue Notes in a tight match.
The first match of the day pitted the Leesiders in their glorious red kits against the Blue Notes in sky blue. With the sun just beginning to break through the morning clouds, the referee’s whistle blew and the match was off. It took no time for the Leesiders to get on the board as visiting dignitary, Eric “Medicine Man” Vick place a well-targeted shot over the bar. His work did not stop there. Two punishing strikes on goal prompted a quick reshuffle of players with the shifting of Ryan Buckley back to the number 1 spot. This brought a stop to Vick’s goal scoring, but only the tallest and mightiest of goalies can stop points. The Blue Notes appeared unable to respond to the Leesiders’ attack until Aaron Joley finally found the mark to get the Notes on the Board.
The score, clearly uneven at 2-5 to 1-2 at the half had the Leesiders well positioned to take the match, but in a show of great sportsmanship, the Leesiders traded the visitor, Vick, to the Blue Notes. The Leesiders, in a wise move, placed the superb defending skills of Chris Davis in Vick’s pocket, which had the effect of slowing down his scoring drives. The Notes, with Joey Whalen and Corbett Ouellette controlling the midfield, were able find 3 more points and a goal. As the game entered the final minutes, the intensity level shot through the roof. Both sides sent players attacking, while both team’s defenses held their lines. In the last passage of play, with the Leesiders leading by a thin 2-point margin, the Notes mounted an all-out attack. Grant Gill, in goal, made a fantastic save, but his short clearance gave the Notes a last bit of hope. Another save by Gill, and a better clearance this time, gave way to the referee’s final whistle. The Leesiders held strong to that 2-point lead, winning the match 2-7 (13) to 2-5 (11).
Leesiders dig deep against the Ports
After the intense finish to the first match, the victorious Leesiders would have little time to recover before facing the Ports, and from the opening throw-in it was clear that this would be a spirited affair. Both sides found scores quickly as Nick Chamberlain for the Ports and Eric Vick for the Leesiders hit nice shots over the bar. Sam D’Amico got in on the scoring action, netting a fantastic goal for the Ports, while Johnny Watson appeared to have gotten rid of his errant shooting ways, striking a nice weak-side point from near the midfield line. Strong defense from Leesiders’ Chris Davis and Molly Bombardi-Mount kept the Ports scoring low, while at the other end Torrey Stroud and Katie Sampuda did the same for the Ports. The strength of both defenses was reflected in the halftime score: Leesiders 1-1 to Ports 1-4.
As the Ports mounted their attack in the second half, the Leesiders began to succumb to the day’s efforts. The tired legs of the Leesiders wobbled as the Ports continued to find scores. A sloppy goal slid into the Ports net, when temporary goalie Caleb Harper misread a free from Chris Davis. Harper, moving back to the outfield after his respite, made up for his error when he popped one past Leesider keeper Grant Gill. It was Harper, D’Amico, Watson, and Chamberlain, all feeling relaxed and capable, who moved the ball with precision, finding 3 more goals and 5 more points between them. The Leesiders dug into their reserves, but found themselves unable to respond to the Ports, managing to find only 2 points and 1 goal in the second half. Final score Ports 4-9 (21) to Leesiders 2-3 (9).
Ports battle the Blue Notes for top of the table honors
Having won their first match of the day, the Ports sat level on league points with the Blue Notes at 9 each. Both teams were champing at the bit to win the day’s third match and go into the second half of the season at the top of the table. Having recognized the importance of playing Ryan Buckley in net, Captain Ashley Tabolinsky slotted the big man between the posts. Much like the second game, this one started off with quick scores from both sides. The Ports’ front men appeared to have found their form, while Joey Whalen, Oak Reynolds, and Aaron Joley were dialed in for the Blue Notes. The halftime score reflected the excitement of the half, with the sides separated by merely a goal: Ports 2-3 to Leesiders 1-3.
The Ports must have slipped something into Sam D’Amico and Caleb Harper’s bug juice at the half as both men took to the scoring like seasoned pros. The Ports were asking the questions, but Notes had answers, sending the cavalry forward, and taking advantage of holes in the Ports’ defense. A tremendous shot on goal, and a near save by Ryan Buckley, saw the ball land just inside the keeper’s line, taking the Ports’ goal tally to 3, while Joley and Whalen kept the Notes level with the Ports on goals. But as the Bainisteoir always says, “take your points!” especially when the net is guarded by a keeper as capable as Ryan Buckley, and so the Ports did just that, sending 11 over the bar in the second half alone. In the end, those points would be enough, giving the Ports the victory and another 3 points in the league standings. Final score: Ports 3-14 (23) to Blue Notes 3-6 (15)
Player of the Day
Savoring the two victories, the Ports celebrated a third when Sam D’Amico was recognized as player of the day. His crisp play, good movement, and goals and points were instrumental in the Ports success. Congratulations “Meatball”!
Blue Notes 9