Last night the NYUAD American flag football team won the Duplays citywide recreation league championship 30-19, an incredible turnaround from its season-opening 42–6 loss.
After beating the top team in the league in the semi-finals, NYUAD — its team made up of NYUAD students and staff, as well as "Football Jedi," a US expat who joined mid-season — took on the Crazy Canucks in the championship game under the lights at Abu Dhabi's Armed Forces Officers Club. It was truly a super effort by everyone involved. As one opponent said on the way out, "NYUAD, a rags to riches story."
Every NYUAD player that stepped on the field in the semi-finals and championship game made a key play or plays: James Lloyd scoring three touchdowns from the center position; Ben Higgins with four timely interceptions; Manuel Nivia with a great rush every play to pressure the quarterback; Tae Young Kang and Alex Larkin tearing off flags left and right; Joshua Shirley's kicking and defensive play; Nils Lewis and Michael Walker adding maturity and soft hands every time they were needed; Tucker Russell and Eric Johnson constantly coming up with key catches, whether for a first down, extra point, or a touchdown; and Mark Hoffman seemingly everywhere on offense and defense and taking big shots from big guys!
Every member of the team stepped up to the plate and made the plays that bring championship titles.
I think the best part of the whole experience was that every other team was probably happy that NYUAD won. There was animosity between some teams on the field, but in the end everyone liked the NYUAD team and respected the way it played: hard, clean, and, well, like a team. When it was all said and done, the NYUAD players perhaps appreciated being champions more than any other team would have.
Thanks for some great entertainment and a great season. NYUAD Flag Football…you are Duplays Champions!