During the final round of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) all eyes were on the Glendale vs. San Diego rematch, but the best game of round six occurred in Atlanta. The Harlequins rallied in the final 15 minutes to nearly overtake the Twin Cities Amazons. The hosts fell just short, 18-17, but the effort highlighted a much improved Atlanta side with a solid work ethic. The effort also highlighted Player of the Week Monique Compito, who has popped up in every opponent’s feedback this season.
On Sunday, Atlanta took a 5-3 lead into halftime, and then Twin Cities responded with the next 15 points to lead 18-5 by the third quarter.
“The only thing I’ve ever asked for as a coach is that people give everything they have,” said Atlanta head coach Phil Thiel. “As a coaching staff, we’ll work on the pieces that need to be improved – whether it’s handling or decision-making – and work up to the larger game-plan stuff. The Quins have never given up – and they never will. … I’m really proud of their effort.”
Atlanta remained disciplined, and continued to keep its width and move the ball. The hosts kept attacking, and during the final 15 minutes of play outside center Compito finished off the phases with two tries.
“She’s a classic, shorter-build person who is absolutely powerful,” Thiel said. “She has great footwork skills and the ability to win those one-on-one battles. She uses that footwork on defense, too, and gets in front of people and makes that tackle against larger players.
“Some players have raw athleticism but don’t know how to use it,” the coach added. “She has great feet, balance and intelligence, and knows how to use her body, how to find space and beat people one on one. She needs to continue to work on her basic skills – they’re not poor by any stretch of the imagination, but if they’re elevated, then she’ll be nearly unstoppable.”
Fall 2016 marks Compito’s first season in the WPL, and she ended league play with five tries. She’s a great weapon, but Thiel also lauded her emotional assets.
“She is super positive all of the time and that helps create a positive rugby environment,” the coach said. “In the beginning of the season, you want to stay positive and focus on improvement, and now we’re trying to push more high performance, where we’re more critical of ourselves – but always positive. She’s a light bulb, super bright all of the time, and is great to coach.”
That combination of skill, know-how and positivity is reason enough for Thiel to recommend Compito to the higher-ups.
“If I was a USA Rugby coach, I would have her on the radar right now,” Thiel said. “Even if you didn’t choose her, I would want her in camp. She brings so many positive intangibles – such a good attitude, loves to train hard – that she would make the camp a good experience for others.”
Fortunately for Compito and teammates, the national team selectors are heading to the Harlequins’ backyard next week. The WPL championships occur Nov. 11 and Nov. 13 at Life University.