Albany has already impressed in their first DI season, beginning with a bonus-point loss to Providence, then defeating Philadephia, Village Lions and now Boston this past Saturday 29-7.
“It’s been a pleasant surprise,” Albany coach Lori Staples said. “We had lost several key starters from last year’s squad [that won DII nationals], so we went into this season not really know what to expect, but I thought we could at least contest for the fourth spot to playoffs – obviously that’s changed since the season started and now it’s just two.”
The roster was buoyed by a nice crop of rookies who’ve been able to slot into the starting rotation nicely. And returners also worked hard to improve their game and keep the team competitive.
“In a strange way, this season has been easier than last year’s because we put so much pressure on ourselves to win the national DII championship,” Staples continued. “While it will be a tough finish to the season, we’re looking forward to playing Atlanta and NOVA the next two weeks. No matter what the outcome, both matches should be great contests and good measure of where we stand and what we need to work on.”
Saturday marked Albany’s third win on home turf, but it did not come easily. Slippery conditions forced a forwards-oriented game and also contributed to handling errors on either side of the ball. The Knicks stuck to their gameplan of keeping the ball in tight and not kicking away possession to Boston’s dangerous back three.
The strategy yielded rewards nine minutes in when after a series of pick and goes, hooker Nicole Vidro dotted her first of two tries, 5-0
Play remained in Boston’s half for the next 10 minutes, but handling errors and stout Boston defense killed several scoring opportunities. Midway through the half, however, Albany pushed a five-meter scrum into the try zone, and No. 8 Angie Craig dotted down, 10-0.
Boston was able to close the gap before halftime, when their winger slipped through a tackle and under the posts for the converted try, 10-7.
The wake-up call reinvigorated Albany in the second half, and the forwards settled into their game plan once again. Nine minutes in, scrumhalf Kristin Bonomo dove over the line to extend the lead to 15-7. Albany repeated the effort 10 minutes later with their third pushover try of the game. This time prop Shannon Wallace dotted down for the Knicks and flyhalf Joanne Kos hit the conversion, 22-7.
“Four of our five tries were the result of a group effort by the forwards,” Albany coach Lori Staples. “They rarely failed to capitalize on a scoring opportunity when we were within 10 meters of the try zone and as a coach it was great to see. In fact the coaches and captains made all the forwards the MVPs of our A-side on Saturday. That said, we never would of won against Boston without the great defense our backs played. They made so many try saving tackles, I lost count.”
Even though the Knicks are at 3-1, they’re still in fourth place on points. Albany faces two of the toughest teams in the league over the next two weeks, beginning with league leader Atlanta this weekend.