The DC Furies put in a good showing against New York, but the reigning Women’s Premier League champion pulled out a 20-5 win to advance to the 5th place match against Keystone.
“The first half was a challenge for us because we had a lot of mishandles,” New York coach Heidi Rubenstein said. “There were so many that we had to talk about it at halftime. The wind was a factor, and it’s cold out, but we really needed to clean that up for the second half.”
DC held onto possession for the first 10 minutes as play ping ponged between the 22s. New York’s first foray into DC territory coincided with fullback Vanesha McGee’s first touch of the game, and the Eagle was highlight of the backline.
“Vanesha is an outstanding player, one of the best in country,” Rubenstein said. “But our game plan doesn’t revolve around one player. We like it when Vanesha gets he hands on the ball, and she never loses the ball in contact. And if she can’t break the line, then she’s going to create something for someone else.”
Even as the unforced errors continued to mar play on either side of the ball, New York remained patient on defense and kept making tackles behind the gainline. Twenty-five minute in, New York broke through the DC defense, and a five-pointer came at the hands of flyhalf Kaitlin Ruggiero. That 5-0 lead held until half.
Right from the kickoff, captain Rebecca Brafman busted through for a long break. She lined up the fullback and offloaded to outside center Erica Granger in the tackle. The speedy center outraced her pursuers for the corner try, 10-0.
DC broke the shutout about 10 minutes into the half, when a long goal line stance finally found space out wide for the try, 10-5.
But a brace of tries from wing Nicole Humphreys put the game out of reach. She cleaned up an errant pass then turned the corner before beating the fullback one on one. The last score came with no time on the clock, as McGee made yardage through traffic, then offloaded to the open wing, 20-5.
“Nichole Humphreys had an amazing game,” Rubenstein said. “ She’s developed well over the last couple of years, and has been patiently waiting her turn for a start. She was great under the high ball and sliced through people today.”
Rubenstein was concerned with some of the team’s play at the point of contact and having backrow players break off the quicker. But it was a decent showing for the rebuilding team, which was missing key players like Katie Brethel, Kath Ryan and Koma Gandy to injury.
New York will take on Keystone, which defeated the Minnesota Valkyries in overtime, in the 5th place match Sunday.