April 20, 2013
Albany 31-Saratoga 23
Albany welcomed the Saratoga Stampede to Dick Green Field on Saturday in what was expected to be an intense match. Saratoga is gearing up for a run at the Div. III National Championship before making the leap into Div. II competition next fall. There was a decent crowd of old boys there to support the Knicks, with Mike Jones watching as well. Saratoga had no shortage of fans either. Both sides had loads of talent. While Albany stuck with their core players, Saratoga opted to test several combinations throughout the match, with many Stampede players trying to lock in their spot on the 25 man playoff roster.
Albany got on the board first as wing Scottie Bergen worked the far sideline after receiving a pass from fullback Dorian Simes. Captain Tom Breslin could not convert the difficult kick into the wind but the Knicks led 5-0 at 7 minutes in. Saratoga came back 7 minutes later though when their kicker, aided by the strong wind, landed a long range penalty. 5-3 Albany at 14 minutes. The Knicks answered though when eightman Brandon Bailey muscled his way over the try line just right of the posts after several pick and go attempts. Breslin had a better angle this time and slotted the conversion to give Albany a 12-3 lead. Saratoga came back again though and at the 27 minute mark scored a try right under the posts with a nice crash ball right up the middle with their backs. The conversion was made and it was 12-10 to Albany. Bergen scored Albany’s third try six minutes later, where once again he found himself receiving another ball along the far sideline. He had a little bit of work to do to beat some cover defense but was able to round the corner and finish under the posts; leaving Breslin with an easy conversion. Albany was now up 19-10. Saratoga finished the scoring in the first half as they worked their way downfield and were awarded a penalty just shy of the whistle. They converted successful on the penalty kick and went into the break down by 6 points. Things got interesting in the second half with Saratoga striking first, off a turnover in midfield twelve minutes in. The conversion missed and Albany’s lead was one point. It remained 19-18 in Albany’s favor for the next 18 minutes until Saratoga crossed again and took their first lead. Saratoga was up 23-19 and Albany knew they weren’t going to get many chances with 10 minutes to go. In a key moment with about 5 minutes to go Breslin opted for the lineout over a penalty kick. Albany secured the lineout ball and maintained possession for several phases before Brandon Bailey was able to power his way through two defenders and score what would be the winning try. Breslin missed the conversion leaving the score at 24-23. There were three tense minutes left with Saratoga trying desperately to get back into the Albany half. Each attempt was thwarted and Albany was doing everything it could to hang on. With less than 30 seconds to go Albany pivot David O’Neill punched a line drive kick towards the opposition fullback, the kick was mishandled just outside Saratoga’s line and flanker Cody Morton raced to the loose ball, picked it up and scored to seal the victory. Breslin converted to end the game 31-23 to Albany. A lot of players rose to the occasion but flanker Cody Morton was all over the field and made several key tackles that stopped the Saratoga offense in their tracks. He also moved to inside center when Sean Mertz went down with an ankle injury. The try at the end was a testament to his fitness.
Sean Bayliss (Nick St. John @ halftime)
Steve Arango (Todd Martin @ halftime)
Tommy Breslin (Captain)
Sean Mertz (Brian Killips @ 70’)
Saratoga won the B match 5-0. The match was scoreless well into the 2ndhalf when Saratoga took a turnover ball from mid-field and raced down the left sideline. Albany had several attempts to put points on the board but failed to execute. Scrumhalf Tim Pendergast earned man of the match honors for Albany.
Thomas Sage (Steve Arango @ 50’)
Damien Lopez (Bryan Lynch @ halftime)
Marty White (Bill Zedaker @ 50’)
Albany travels to Syracuse on 4/27 to play a round robin tournament against Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester in what is being billed as the I-90 tournament.