Tigers Earn Big Road Win Over Eagles
The NC Tigers traveled up to Washington DC on Saturday to take on their long time rivals the Baltimore-Washington Eagles on a hot, humid day in the nation’s capital. In a tightly contested affair from start to finish, the yellow and black were able to run out the game stronger than their opponents, dominating the 4th quarter to pick up a memorable road win. The gutsy away win over a division 2 side is sure to turn some heads, and will act as the perfect launching pad for the second half of the Tigers’ season.
The Tigers have struggled with slow starts in their recent trips to DC, forcing themselves to catch-up footy and playing themselves out of games early. With that in mind, and a lot of pre-game focus on a quicker start, it was the Tigers who came out of the blocks the better side, winning the early contests and going harder for the ball. Duncan Price was dominant in the ruck duel, giving his rovers first touch of the footy and resulting in some easy center clearances for North Carolina. Ben Wetzel did a good job providing a marking target up forward, chipping in with a goal, with Shane and Scott Bradley also adding majors to give the away side an early lead. However, a hamstring injury to Jason Falla in the opening minutes left the Tigers without a healthy bench player, and the heat appeared to take a toll on the legs of the Tigers’ midfield towards the end of the quarter. The Eagles took full advantage linking together some good passages of play and capitalizing in front of goal to finish the quarter with their noses in front.
The Tigers came out of the first break refreshed and were able to regain control of the flow of the game, with hard running on and off the ball. The Tigers’ defense was able to shut down their opponents in the 2nd term, with any and all attacks repelled quickly, not allowing the Eagles a single goal in the quarter. Mike Hoffman and Steven Harper provided plenty of good run off of half back, and Pete Capozziello had an impressive half of football, earning plenty of the footy with some hard running. Jason Falla played through a hamstring injury at full forward, and was still able to win a few one-on-one contests and added an important goal that gave the Tigers a 3-point lead at half time.
The game heated up after half time with both sides playing some good hard footy. The young legs of Hoffman, Price, and Reed Sandlin continued to lead the way for North Carolina, while Mark Griffin added to the toughness of the Tiger midfield, throwing himself into numerous contests and winning plenty of the ball. Shane Bradley continued to star up front for the Tigers, putting together a dominant quarter of footy and adding 2 more goals to his tally. A couple of goals from free kicks gave the Eagles the lead briefly before captain Nick Camilleri slotted home a long set shot to steady the ship for the Tigers.
The 4th quarter started tragically when Ben Hess went down with a knee injury after playing an important role for the Tigers all afternoon, eliminating any use of the Tiger’s bench and forcing a number of players to play out the match through their own injuries. Angus Coghlan provided some much needed composure down the stretch as the Eagles made one last effort to turn the game and the ever-steady hands of Dennis Kurtz continued to shut down any attacking efforts of the home side. The Tigers could sense a big victory in the works and took full control of the game, banging home 4 final term goals to ice the game. Sandlin, Falla, Price, and Griffin all added majors as the Tigers took home a memorable 20-point victory.
Photos from the match can be found HERE.
The Tigers will now hit the training track hard for a month as well as holding a metro game to maintain match fitness before kicking off a busy end of the season with their next game action in Atlanta against the Kookaburras on September 12th.