San Mateo Hooligans - Sixes League Champions x 3!

6/29/2010 - The Northern California Camanachd Sixes League crowned its champion this past Sunday, and for the third year running the San Mateo Hooligans won the honor. The peninsula side has swept the league titles since the NCC Sixes League's inception in 2008, making them the most decorated side in US shinty.

Once again the mercury rose as the match date approached. Given the cooler than usual weather in the Bay Area this year, it is a little ironic that the last three fixture sets were played on three of the hottest days of the year. There was a festive air at the Burlingame field with the swim center adjacent to the pitch was hosting a regional meet. As the shinty shade tents were deployed and the goals assembled a crowd of swimmers and their families gathered along the fence to witness the final league matches of the season.

The South Bay Bears won an elaborate coin toss, a story unto itself, and elected to play first and last thereby enjoying a rest during the middle match. Whether or not this plan worked to their advantage would be revealed at day's end.

The San Mateo and South Bay sides took the field for the first match and before long the Bears goal was under siege. The defense fought hard, but with three goals before half time the result seemed in little doubt. However, a resolute second half performance slowed the Hooligan's attack and allowed the Bears to pull a goal back and create chances for more. The Hooligans held fast and as time ran down a late score gave them a 4-1 victory. Of note, this is the first time a father-son tandem has scored in the same league match with Mark Lawson netting one and son Clark scoring a brace!

The second match pitted the Hooligans against a North Bay side which was enjoying a full compliment of subs for the first time in their three-year history. On the hot day, with field temperatures nearing 100, the deeper roster certainly paid off and the first half was all Rovers, the ball rarely making it out of the San Mateo half. Despite ongoing pressure, the Rovers could only put one over the line, recent recruit Travis Miranda scoring his second league goal in his third game. The second half found the Hooligans exerting more pressure. Scott Worthge, running on to a pass that bounced through the defense, found himself one on one with the keeper and slipped a shot through for the equalizer. The contest ended in a draw, the second draw between these two sides and perhaps an omen for a future challenge to the Hooligans league domination.

The final match of the season featured a battle for runners-up place in the League table with the Bears and Rovers deadlocked at four points apiece. As the game opened it looked like the game's rest might make a difference for the South Bay side as they brought a lively attack to the fray. Shots from new players Christopher Gordon and Lincoln Race as well as Bears stalwarts Max McKay and Scott Mikusko put Rover's keeper Michael Bentley to the test, but with timely interventions from the defenders Bentley weathered the storm. Meanwhile the Rover's attack carried on from where they left off in the previous match, netting two goals before the break, including a tally from new player Rob Wilson. The balance seemed to shift somewhat in the second half with the South Bay side pinned back in their own half. The Bears did manage a few incisive attacks, but the North Bay held fast and added another pair, with Iain MacDonald contributing two to the 4-0 final. And with the win the Rovers earned a second consecutive runner-up finish in the league. Unfortunately Max McKay took a stick to the head while trying to prevent Travis Miranda from scoring his second of the afternoon, and had to sit out the final minutes of the game before a visit to the hospital for stitches.

The final fixture set saw some good shinty, a great showcase for the progress that all the teams in Northern California Camanachd have made. Especially noteworthy was the fact that four players made their match debuts on the day, a great sign for the future of the league and the club. The day concluded with a visit to O'Neills pub for adult beverages and food, with a chance to relive some of the great moments and think about the future of California shinty!

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Northern California Camanachd is hard at work on plans for appearances at the Monterey Scottish Games (August 7 & 8) and the Pleasanton Scottish Games (September 4 & 5) as well as matches with the shinty clubs in Oregon and Washington. In addition other League fixtures are in the works. (MRB)

Hooligans 4 (Clark Lawson - 2, Mark Lawson, Scott Worthge)
Bears 1 (Max McKay)

Rovers 1 (Travis Miranda)
Hooligans 1 (Scott Worthge)

Bears 0
Rovers 4 (Iain MacDonald - 2, Travis Miranda, Rob Wilson)

San Mateo Hooligans 6 2 0 14
North Bay Rovers 2 2 4 6
South Bay Bears 2 0 6 4