San Mateo Hooligans assume commanding lead in NCC Sixes League

6/14/2010 - The sun shone brightly on California shinty yesterday and by the time it set the San Mateo Hooligans had assured themselves of a third straight title in the Northern California Camanachd Sixes League. Two more wins put them completely out of reach of the South Bay Bears and the North Bay Rovers, despite some energetic challenges during the day's matches.

Summer temperatures returned to the Bay Area and the all the players were feeling the heat as the matches expanded to 30 minutes each (two 15 minute halves). The Bears and Rovers met in the first match and the scoring opened early with a stunning strike from a sharp angle by South Bay's Max McKay. The first half then settled into a positional battle until the Rovers' Nancy Lee MacDonald and Travis Miranda teamed up to score the equalizer. The second half found the landscape shifting as the Rovers' defense was unable to maintain position and Max McKay added two scores for a hat-trick. Seth Ford netted a second Rover's score, but the North Bay team was unable to pull even before the final whistle.

The second match saw the Rovers and Hooligans wage a tightly contested battle, scoreless through the first half despite some real San Mateo opportunities. The second half saw the Rovers' defensive woes return and the San Mateo side managed three goals, two from 1 on 0 breaks.

Rounding out the fixture set was a match between the South Bay Bears and the San Mateo Hooligans. The action was even through the first half with Max McKay providing a virtual one man attack and two scores to offset goals from Jim Buatti and Hermann Baer. The tide turned in the dying minute as a penalty shot was awarded to the Hooligans for dangerous play by the keeper in the Bears D and Walt Worthge made the most of it. Though Bears keeper Armin Busse played heroically in goal, Jim Buatti added another tally in the second half for a 4-2 final, the win putting the Hooligans well out of reach in the race for the Sixes League title.

Three of the four fixture sets have now been played and the league table is settling into a familiar shape. On the day each team had their moments. The Rovers certainly missed Kang Wei Chou (recovering from a broken finger sustained during the last fixture) and his brave play, though other North Bay players gave it their all. The Bears showed a lot of grit and determination by playing their matches without any subs (the Rovers had two, the Hooligans three), a noteworthy feat in the heat of the day. In the final analysis the Hooligans ability to move the ball through (or over) the midfield and pass effectively in front of the goal led to two more wins and an overwhelming points lead.

The 2010 season has one more fixture set which will take place in a fortnight's time on 6/27 at Burlingame High School. (MRB)

Bears 3 (Max McKay-3)
Rovers 2 (Travis Miranda, Seth Ford)

Rovers 0
Hooligans 3 (Bruce Norris, Hermann Baer, Scott Worthge)

Hooligans 4 (Jim Buatti-2, Hermann Baer, Walt Worthge-penalty)
Bears 2 (Max McKay-2)

San Mateo Hooligans 5 1 0 11
South Bay Bears 2 0 4 4
North Bay Rovers 1 1 4 3