No Luck Needed As Free Jacks Overcome 14 Point Deficit For A St. Patrick’s Weekend Victory Over NOLA

By Elsa Edgar

QUINCY– March 16, 2024 – Just like a week ago, the New England Free Jacks took another team’s best efforts on Saturday. On a bright and sunny St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, they fought back from an early 14-point deficit to score 27 straight points and win against the formerly undefeated NOLA Gold. 

The Free Jacks earned their first win at home in front of a feisty, fully packed Veterans Memorial Stadium. More than 4,000 fans watched the Free Jacks in their all-green St. Paddy’s Day kits gut out a tough comeback win. 

NOLA Gold was on the board first with a try from Taniela Filimone and a conversion from Rodney Iona. Shortly after, NOLA’s second try was scored by Jordan Jackson-Hope for an early 14-0 lead. The Free Jacks began their comeback when Jayson Potroz utilized a beautiful kick to set up a five-meter scrum. Moments later Wayne van der Bank cashed in with a try and Potroz made the conversion. 

The first half closed out with the Free Jacks trailing 14-7. It was the first time the Free Jacks were down at the half this season. 

“It was probably the worst half we’ve played. We will take a lot from it. We’re thrilled, but like I said we have a lot of work to do,” said captain Josh Larsen. 

At the start of the second half, the Free Jacks showed NOLA the strength and speed of the defending MLR champions with a kick from John Poland that Reece MacDonald chased down with pure hustle. He was rewarded when the ball took a high bounce into his hands for the diving try. Potroz made the conversion to tie the score at 14. 

Shortly after, Potroz made a penalty kick from 20 meters out to give his team the lead for the first time. A second kick from Potroz made it 20-14. A Ben LeSage try and a conversion by Potroz with three minutes left to play pushed the lead to 27-14. NOLA closed out the scoring with a Jackson-Hope try and Iona conversion at full-time.

MacDonald, man of the match, and LeSage have now scored a try in every game this season. Potroz was five for five on kicks.

In describing his momentum-swinging effort, MacDonald said, “Just trying to put a bit of pressure on them and make the other guy fumble it out.  Lucky enough, it just bounced right up to me.”

On the near sell-out holiday crowd, he said, “It’s good to have such an awesome home crowd. They really lift you up. You feel the energy and it got the boys going so yeah it was good to get the first home win. Every team is coming for us.” 

With the win, the Free Jacks improved to 2-1 and returned to first place in the Eastern Conference. The Free Jacks are set to play the Chicago Hounds next Sunday, March 24, at 2:00 PM ET on NBC Sports Network.

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