NYGL Hosts Indy Red in PUL Home Opener

By Elizabeth Kuzman-McRae

Manhattan, NYC—Saturday, April 27. New York Gridlock Ultimate hosted Indianapolis Red in each franchise’s first game of the Premier Ultimate League season. Halftime boasted a look back on the her-story of womxn’s ultimate with original members of New York’s first womxn’s ultimate club team, Survival.  For NYGL, celebrating the future of womxn’s professional ultimate was made all the sweeter by a home turf victory.

NYGL and Indy were tied 3-3 after a first quarter filled with marathon points, both teams struggling to maintain possession largely due to unforced errors and likely first game jitters.  Gaining traction, Indy synched back-to-back points before the quarter was up. Indy kept up defensive pressure during the second quarter, using its team’s height advantages to pick off a few deep looks.  NYGL pulled ahead, however, with versatile offensive players like captain Tulsa Douglas, Kelly “Beezus” Hyland, and Amy Zhou all flexing assists, scores, and blocks. NYGL led 5-4 at halftime.

Fresh-faced and revved up, NYGL came out of halftime ready to run.  In what seemed to be a three-part solution to their woes that included (1) a welcomed ten-minute halftime reprieve, (2) the boisterous cheering of a few hundred fans, and (3) captain #71 Cassie Wong’s second big layout-D of the night, the third quarter was the turning point for NYGL. Going up three breaks in the third quarter, NYGL held on to their 6-point lead and closed out the fourth quarter with Indy trailing 14-8.

In the second half, NYGL’s offensive unit took their time with full field swings and held possession much of the third and fourth quarters. #8 Kelly “Beezus” Hyland said that one of the toughest challenges in the game and season so far has been blending different playing styles in a short time. “We still have a lot of work to do but everyone is willing to play selflessly and commit to the plan,” Hyland said.  When asked about NYGL’s breakaway in the third quarter Hyland pointed to the team’s defensive intensity. “Block by block, [we fed] off the high energy from the crowd and each other,” she said. She added that the team is in good shape, fitness-wise, due to Coach Murray, who also knows how to use timeouts and subs to keep legs fresh.

Coming off her first win of the season, NYGL coach Eileen Murray credited NYGL’s horizontal stack offense. “Our offense going in to the game was to stick to our system [and] make sure we knew where resets and continuation cuts were getting preference. Each game we will build more chemistry, so this was our first time to do that as a full team.”  

With regards to the half-time magic responsible for the explosive third quarter, Coach Murray talked about offensive adjustments, including leaving the deep space open to make more space for cutters. Regarding defense, she said, “We discussed stopping the up-the-line cuts from handlers and either pushing in or out depending on the situation.”  A top priority of the second half was about getting on the same page – and she acknowledged the halftime show helped. “Knowing that (Survival) came to support us from all over the world made us want to do better and make them proud to be part of this history.”

During halftime, the audience listened to former Survival teammates Annie Chanler, Corinne Corrigon, Barbara Hart, Kim Holton, Bronwyn Ryan, and Tricia Zengerle, and hall-of-famers Christine Dunlap and Amy Wilbur all speak. The players, dressed in outrageously groovy threads, discussed the evolution of womxn’s ultimate in New York City.  From filling rosters by taking out ads in newspapers for womxn athletes to being slotted with six-am field reservations, Survival's dedication to ultimate built a lasting framework in New York. As Annie Chanler concluded, “[We’re] fired up for what’s to come for Gridlock, this city, and emerging athletes who are womxn.”

EKM is a SUNY Geneseo grad with a passion for gender equity in womxn's sports. She is inspired by the disc community and its commitment to develop womxn in ultimate. She is also the Game Day Manager and Operations Intern for NYGL.

Tim Kepner