The James Connolly Albany Rebels won their first two matches of the inaugural New York Cup on Saturday, defeating Syracuse and Buffalo at Manlius Pebble Hill School in Syracuse.
The Rebels started slowly against Syracuse in the first game of the day, committing costly turnovers and missing some early points. But they settled down and gutted out a competitive game 3-10 (19 points) to 2-5 (11 points).
Ian Maher led the effort with two goals, both on streaking runs down the center of the pitch, and assisted on Spencer Bassette’s one-timed goal at the near post.
“Ian Maher put on a clinic in the midfield against Syracuse, and is a big part of why we were able to come away with the win in that match,” said Mike Lee, who served as player/coach. “His timing - when to tackle, when to shoot, when to pass - is always on point and is invaluable to our team.”
After Buffalo beat Syracuse in the second game 4-10 (22 points) to 2-7 (13 points), Albany was determined to take two wins on the first day of the New York Cup.
Albany led by just three points at halftime (0-9 to 0-6), but with Buffalo tiring in the second half, the Rebels overwhelmed the Fenians, scoring three goals and 10 points in the final 20 minutes to win convincingly 3-19 (28 points) to 0-11 (11 points).
A cast of Rebels got into the scoring against Buffalo. Connor Stark scored two goals and Bassette had one. Mike Lee found his range on 45s after hitting the right post and then the left post, by scoring his next two. He added three more points, two in the run of play and one on a free. Mark Adam and Joe Bradley each had two points and Brian Kanalley had one.
But it was the team defense that highlighted the win against Buffalo. The Rebels were strong in the air on kickouts and gave little room to attackers in front of the goal. It was the first game since Albany’s win against Hartford in the Hartford 7s Tournament in which they did not surrender a goal.
“Our defense was unbelievable in keeping out an excellent team of attackers,” Maher said. “Joe Donlon, Dylan, Franky and Brad really drove the team on with their defending.”
Albany will play the second leg of the New York Cup at Buffalo on Saturday, July 8.