WPL Round-up Week 8

Week eight of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) saw three teams clinch semifinal berths to the national championship (Nov. 1-3, Glendale, Colo.). Life West and Glendale will represent the West Conference in the trophy bracket, while East Conference’s Atlanta will take its first trip to the final four since 2014. The second berth out of the East is still very much in contention.
Twin Cities traveled to Atlanta and stayed within a converted try of the home team through the first half. Scrumhalf Rachel Lentsch scored a brace of tries, while wing Danica Mooney-Jones added a conversion and penalty kick for 15 first-half points. The Harlequins then broke it open in the second stanza and held the Amazons scoreless in the 62-15 decision.
“Huge credit to the Amazons for coming out of the gate fast and putting us under a lot of pressure defensively with the speed of their play. We missed some defensive assignments and were missing tackles, which put us down in our end,” Atlanta head coach Ros Chou praised Twin Cities for converting those opportunities into points. “However, our team stays calm and continued to chip away and put points on the board. Our team has consistently been composed throughout 80 minutes and we have outscored our opponents in the second half in every game this season so far – including our loss to Beantown. So, we know that finishing a game is a strength of ours, and there’s no need to panic when it’s close or we’re behind at the half.”
Mo Compito, Cortney Kuehl, Kelli Smith and Lara Gartner scored two tries apiece, and Megan Rom added the ninth. Corinne Heavner kicked 17 points on seven conversions and a penalty. There’s a league-wide break coming this weekend as the USA 15s pool assembles in advance of the November tour, and then Atlanta enjoys its bye week for an extended recuperation period.
“We want to finish out the season really strong,” Chou looked toward the Oct. 26 match against Chicago North Shore. “[We] know North Shore will bring their physicality down to Atlanta and it’s our final challenge before nationals.”


North Shore hosted New York and stayed within striking distance the first 40 despite two yellow cards. The visitors pulled away in the second half and banked a 38-12 bonus-point win to remain in contention for that second East Conference seed to the national semifinals.
“We’ve been trying out different combinations to find our strongest squad and I think we pretty much have it now. The players have been patient and trusting our selections as we build toward finding our true strength as a team,” New York head coach Tiff Faaee explained. “The win against Chicago was much needed. We are still not quite where I know we can be, but we will use this week to build again and work on cohesion now that we have an idea of who can play where for our current set-up.”
Wing Sarah Levy finished five tries for New York, and prop Naomi Batzer added the sixth for the 24-year-old’s first WPL score. Gianna Solomon converted four. Jessica Ventrillo and Bridget Kapinus scored Chicago North Shore’s tries, and Nicole Fisch added the extras.


In San Francisco, Life West shut out San Diego for 75 minutes, until Hunter Griendling hit the third dropgoal of the WPL season (Heavner kicked two in week seven). The Surfers followed with a Nicole Burr try and Megan Foster conversion, but the game ended with a Sara Parsons try and Hali Deters conversion: 59-10 to Life West.
“We showed what we are capable of when we get things right,” Life West Director of Rugby Adriaan Ferris explained. “By our own standards we hadn’t been playing well over the last few weeks and we demanded a better effort from one another against San Diego. Refocusing on playing a simplified version of our game plan helped with clarity in attack, and we turned up with the right attitude on defense.
“We had a couple of position changes in the backline that created some energy and a different approach. This appeared to work,” Ferris noted the nine-try performance against the defending national champion. “Sara Parsons led the team expertly at flyhalf and earned the Player of the Match honor for her game management and individual performance.”
Parsons and outside center Leti Hingano scored two tries apiece, while Hope Rogers, Elona Williams, Amy Naber Bonte, Neariah Persinger and Nikki Kenyon added one apiece. Hingano kicked four conversions and Deters added three.


Glendale and Berkeley faced each other on the turf pitch outside Infinity Park, where the USA Women 7s team was busy winning the opening leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. The Merlins held the All Blues to a try in each half (Ros Okpara, Matilda Kocaj) and won 57-12.
“We feel like we’re getting used to our attack and being able to put the pieces together,” said Farmer, who doubled as pitch-side security inside Infinity Park during the 7s tournament. “We’ve got all these young kids that have come in and – as the old person on the team – it’s sort of invigorating. … We’ve got Gabby [Cantorna] and Mack [Hawkins] in the middle now and directing traffic, and they’ve gotten comfortable, and we’ve gotten comfortable playing with them. When they’re firing it just opens everything up for us.”
With the semifinal berth confirmed, Glendale has the option to rest some bodies and play with less pressure. But Farmer placed value on the final two league games as opportunities to build confidence and continue to build toward nationals.
“Since the first game, it’s just been up for us, and so we’re pretty excited about that,” the No. 8 said. “We’re still going to push it. We think that we’ve got a lot more to give, and so we’re not going to settle for [Saturday]. It was a good win for us but we think there’s a lot of potential so we’re going to keep pushing for it.”



2019 WPL Expert Picks – Week 8

The Women’s Premier League competition has just three weeks left of the regular season, with the East and West’s top teams, Atlanta (+11 points) & Life West (+7 points), sitting temporarily comfortable atop their respective conferences. Atlanta & Life West may be ahead by a substantial margin on points, but it’s anyone’s game to steal each 2nd place standing, with three weeks to play. Expect the first weekend of October to provide thrills and chills as teams come out victorious while gaining much needed points, along with those who come away empty handed.


Kicking things off in the East are Top of the Conference table, Atlanta (5-1) hosting the visiting 2nd place Twin Cities Amazons (3-3). In their previous matchup in Minnesota (August 31st), there was a concern with Atlanta lasting the full 80 minutes due to only being able to travel with 17 players. With this obstacle in their way, they still came away with the victory, 45-22. The previous matchup, is a true testament to this Harlequins side who have battled each challenge, and have five consecutive wins to show for it. Twin Cities will be looking to not only avenge their earlier season loss to Atlanta, but also to rebound from last week’s close 2-point defeat to Beantown. With this great match between the 1st & 2nd pace conference teams, Twin Cities will be intending on throwing the ‘kitchen sink’ at Atlanta in hopes of toppling their rivals.

The other matchup in the East is the Sunday game with Chicago North Shore (1-4) hosting New York Rugby (2-3). The last time these teams faced-off was in Week 3, where New York came away with the convincing win. Chicago is riding a 4-game losing streak, after winning their first contest against Twin Cities. The North Shore club, in the last four matches, has scored a total of 32 points, only 1 point more than their first match’s total. Expect this fiery team to use their home field advantage to gain a much needed win, along with increasing points in the standings. New York had faced a tough opponent in Atlanta last week and lost 12-51, but are looking to turn to their other cheek this week and face a Chicago squad who is hungry for win #2.


Within the first contest of the West, the San Diego Surfers (2-3) will be traveling up the coast to face-off against, Top-of-the-Table, Life West Gladiatrix (5-1). These two teams recently met on September 7th in San Diego, but the Gladiatrix had taken the wind out of the Surfers’ sails with an impressive 40-16 victory. After last week’s 58-0 win against ORSU, San Diego is tuned-in to rematch Life West and steal a victory on the road, just as their challengers had done a month ago. The Gladiatrix on the other hand have been less consistent since losing to Glendale two weeks ago. It was especially apparent when they had only beat Berkeley by 1 point in their previous match, and scoring 15 points on the entire day. This matchup can be a sneaky outcome for the Surfers, but we’ll have to see if they can outlast a formidable Gladiatrix side.

The Match of the Week will include the Glendale Merlins (4-1) hosting the Berkeley All-Blues (3-3) in this Western battle for 2nd place within the conference. At first look, Glendale clearly has the superior record to Berkeley, but if you were to look closer, the Merlins are only +1 in total table points over the All-Blues. This game, with the potential of a bonus point either way, could seriously affect the remainder of the year for both clubs. The other reason this match is deemed the most notable of the week is because of the incredibly close score that occurred last time these clubs met. Glendale had squeezed by with 2-point victory on the road in the Bay Area, and the Merlins understand the potential of this All-Blues club that only lost to Life West by 1-point the previous week. Either expect a defensive battle or an absolute barn-burner in this battle for West’s 2nd best.

Oct 5th Atlanta Harlequins 2:00 pm EDT Twin Cities Amazons
  Life West Gladiatrix 1:00 pm PDT San Diego Surfers
  Glendale Merlins 7:00 pm MDT Berkeley All Blues
Oct 6th Chicago North Shore 12:00 pm CDT New York Rugby
Bye-Week: Beantown RFC & ORSU

WPL Round-up Week 7

Week 7 of the Women’s Premier League produced two single-digit decisions, keeping the standings close and the pressure intense for the remainder of the regular season.
Just one point separated Life West (5-1) and Berkeley (3-3) in the Bay Area rematch, and the Gladiatrix overcame a halftime deficit to win 15-14. In Week 6, Life West was on the wrong side of a two-point decision against Glendale (4-1), and took some lessons into Saturday’s game.
“I think we had moments of really great rugby,” Life West flanker Elizabeth Cairns said of Glendale take-aways. “When we think too much and we get into an individual attitude, that’s when we slow down. When we played fast and we played together and shared the work load, that’s when we really shined.”
Berkeley took the first lead when Evan Hoese dummied through the defense and connected with Bulou Mataitoga, who dropped to fullback, for the corner try. Sam Miller made the sideline conversion for the 7-0 lead. In the final 10 minutes of the half, Leti Hingano took a turnover for a long, slicing run to the try zone, and then Hope Rogers took a final pass from Catie Benson along the sideline for a fast-moving try, 10-7. It looked like Life West was going to take that lead into the break, but Berkeley retained possession well past the halftime hooter, and a tryline seam eventually opened up. Allie Byrne dove through it and Miller’s conversion afforded Berkeley the 14-10 lead.
Life West again focused on sharing the work load and cleaning up its game. Some handling errors ended scoring opportunities for the Gladiatrix, but the team was finally rewarded for its possession near the 60-minute mark. Flyhalf Sara Parsons took an angled run at the defense, cut back inside for a line-break, and hit Hali Deters in support for the try, 15-14. Both teams had opportunities for points in the fourth quarter, but the score held.
“For us, for the rest of the season, it’s about building and peaking at the right time,” Cairns said. “We’re trying to celebrate this one and look at the good things but again we have a lot of growing to do still.”


Beantown (3-3) established an early lead and forced the home side, Twin Cities (3-3), to play catch-up, which the Amazons accomplished, and then some. But a final consolidation of effort and will saw Beantown triumph in the waning minutes, 22-20 for the win.
“The most impressive part of today’s win was the players’ ability to stick to the script,” Beantown head coach Tadhg Leader summarized. “We could have got desperate and tried to pull off an X-factor style play in the dying minutes, but instead they remained patient, working through our structures. Thankfully we reaped the rewards.”
Beantown went up 10-0 in the first 10 minutes, as inside center Rosie Wright scored and flyhalf Tatjana Toeldte added a conversion and penalty. Twin Cities closed in during the second 20, as Danica Mooney-Jones kicked a penalty and then fullback Kaelene Lundstrum scored, 10-8 to Beantown.
The home side took its first lead of the game in minute 48 when Mooney-Jones scored, and then built it out to 20-10 with another Mooney-Jones try and conversion. The pressure intensified in the final 10 minutes, resulting in a Twin Cities yellow card and Beantown penalty try, 20-17. Beantown held a player advantage for the remainder of the game, and in the 79th minute, wing Allison Martin scored the game-winning try, 22-20 the final.
“Couldn’t be more proud of the whole squad,” Leader enthused. “Those girls who didn’t take the field today should be equally thrilled as those who played. Everyone had a role to play in picking up a road win.”


Also in the WPL East, Atlanta found success on the road and pulled away in the second half for a 51-12 win over New York.
“I honestly didn’t expect this point margin,” Atlanta coach Ros Chou noted the absence of Maggie Craig, Karen Faget and two debuts. “So, my goal was for us to keep it close. It was 17-0 at the half, but we spent those last 15 minutes of that first half on defense, trying to keep them out of the try zone. Somehow, some way, we would get a turnover or penalty when we needed it the most to go into the half with them scoreless.”
Scrumhalf Bridget Kahele and wing Kelli Smith scored tries in the first half, while flyhalf Corinne Heavner added a conversion and penalty for the lead after 40 minutes.
“When we went into the halftime huddle, we discussed upping the defensive pressure, supporting our breaks, and using tactical kicking a bit more,” Chou added.
Captain Mo Compito, whose red eye flight had been delayed, arrived and took the pitch, and that was a huge morale boost. Prop Megan Rom scored early in the second half and then New York got on the board through inside center Dana Alimena. Nikki Richardson added the conversion, 24-7. Heavner kept the scoreboard ticking over and answered with the league’s first dropgoal.
“Corinne Heavner really stood out scoring 21 points on the day,” Chou praised. “When she hit the first one on a penalty advantage, the whole team was so excited, that we just started to play with a lot of confidence. By the time Corinne slotted the second drop goal, we were just at full throttle.”
Smith, Compito and Cortney Kuehl scored, Heavner kicked all the conversions and added another dropgoal. New York ended the game with a try from WPL debut Frankie Sands.


San Diego improved to 2-3 in the WPL West with a 58-0 win over visiting ORSU.
“It was a satisfying result for us. Our cohesiveness was probably the best it’s been all season,” Faul lauded. “We have put a lot of emphasis into being patient on attack and seeing that come into fruition has been very rewarding.
“Our forwards set the tone early and continued throughout the game with some strong carries and quick ruck ball that allowed our backs to capitalize out wide and score some outstanding tries,” the coach added.
Wing Teigan MacDonald scored four tries, while Nash Thompson, Tiffany Tate, Jaime Albarelli and WPL San Diego debutants Kimber Rozier and Bui Baravilala dotted down once apiece. Fullback Megan Foster contributed 13 points on a try and four conversions.
“Our defensive shape is improving each week and is an ongoing work-on for us, so we were very elated not to concede any tries,” Faul concluded.



Saturday, October 5th
Twin Cities (3-3) @ Atlanta (5-1) – 2:00PM EDT
San Diego (2-3) @ Life West (4-1) – 1:00PM PDT
Berkeley (3-3) @ Glendale (3-1) – 7:00PM MDT
Sunday, October 6th
New York (2-3) @ Chicago (1-4) – 12:00PM CDT
Teams on Bye Week:
ORSU (0-5) & Beantown (3-3)

2019 Women’s Premier League Championship Location And Dates Announced

  • Infinity Park Turf Field in Glendale, CO to host 2019 WPL Championship Weekend
  • Comment from Former Eagle and current Glendale Merlin Coach, Jamie Burke
  • Comment from USA Women’s National Team Head Coach, Rob Cain
  • Comment from James Wilber, USAR Senior Events Manager

The 2019 Women’s Premier Championship Series will commence November 1st-3rd at the Infinity Park Turf Field in Glendale, CO(1055 S Cherry St, Denver, CO 80246)
Jamie Burke, former Women’s USA Eagle, current assistant coach for the Women’s National Team and Glendale Merlins had this to say about the eventual championship weekend. “The competition has been fierce this fall with the East coast seeing all teams having wins and all teams having losses and the West Coast seeing multiple tight score lines that went down to the wire. That’s the type of exciting rugby we want the WPL to represent. It is exciting to be hosting nationals at Glendale’s Infinity Park rugby complex this fall and we’re excited to showcase the best in women’s rugby. We’re really looking to make it the pinnacle event for domestic rugby with the WPL representing but also incorporating D1 Elite programs into the weekend so that those high caliber collegiate athletes can see what the potential next steps for their rugby career.”
Infinity Park has previously hosted the championship weekend before, and the continuous opportunity to host this tournament, others like it, would not be possible if it weren’t for the stellar efforts of the WPL, its clubs and their high performance referee team. In combination with the world class support offered by RugbyTown USA’s staff and the city of Glendale, November’s contest is shaping up to be something special.
Rob Cain, the USA Women’s National team head coach, will be attending the event in Glendale and had a statement regarding the overall season, its players, the competition, and the championship weekend. “It’s been great to see the players in their club environments and seeing so many hotly contested games throughout the season. The level of rugby has evolved from last year and it’s been great to see so many players putting their hand up for international selection.” Cain added, “I am very excited to not only see the culmination of the season but also the level of rugby, collisions and tries continuing to showcase the talent we have throughout the league. For the club fans I am sure there will be lots of nail biting but for the neutral there will be Lots of high pace exciting rugby to watch , and I look forward to seeing this event unfold in person.”
James Wilber, Senior Events Manager at USA Rugby wanted to highlight the growth of the game, especially within the WPL and its potential in coming years. “Entering its second decade, the WPL continues to be a standard bearer for elite, nationwide competition. USA Rugby is excited and eager to return to RugbyTown USA this November as this storied competition lays down another exclamation point at Infinity Park, one we hope reverberates across the game with the 2021 World Cup on the horizon.”
For those teams seeking a run at the Championship title this year, they will surely have to run through a gauntlet of hungry and dedicated clubs in the upcoming months. The level of play this year in the WPL has been nothing short of incredibly competitive, with each team taking and giving its fair share of passion and effort to achieve the grandest goal. This Fall’s exciting Championship series will etch the eventual champion into WPL’s legendary status for the remainder of time.
FloRugby will be once again, proud to provide end to end coverage of all matches of the playoff and championship weekend, to all nationwide fans and supporters. Tune-in for all the games, come time of the championship in November.


2019 WPL Expert Picks – Week 7

Spirited matches in the East battle, while the West is on edge
Week 7 of the Women’s Premier League is heating up for a showcase of the East’s top teams facing-off, while the West might be up for debate as the newly-defeated Life West travel to the Bay Area in their clash with conference rival Berkeley.


San Diego (1-3) will host West rival, ORSU (0-5), in a matchup where the Surfers are in need to catch up on points after their previous bye week. ORSU will be determined in holding San Diego down and coming out with their first win on the season. ORSU had improved week over week in the match point differential, but no game on the road is easy, especially when they are facing a hungry Surfers team. The match will be played at Robb Athletic Field in San Diego, CA with the weather looking beautiful as ever for this near oceanside matchup.
Berkeley All-Blues (3-2) will be hosting the 1st place (by point total) Life West (4-1) club in San Francisco, CA. The All-Blues will be looking to avenge their 16 point loss to the Gladiatrix from earlier in the season. Having home advantage in this league is a very important aspect in helping secure a win, but Berkeley will have their hands full with a Life West squad looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season to Glendale (4-1). These two very talented squads will be having an all-out war in battling for playoff contention and championship glory. Keep your eye on this matchup, because any outcome in this league is possible on any given day.


Twin Cities (3-2) will be hosting Beantown (2-3) in their second matchup of the 2019 season. Twin Cities had previously stole the last victory on Beantown’s home turf, 22-12, and the Boston side will be looking to do the same to ‘even the score’. The Amazons are currently #2 in the East, but a potential loss to Beantown would certainly shakeup the entire conference, and playoff picture. BRFC is still in the race, but will need a convincing win for momentum moving forward into Week 8. This staunch Amazons side will be looking to keep their place in 2nd, or potentially better if Atlanta ends up losing their battle.
The final match of the weekend will have the conference’s top squad, Atlanta (4-1), face off against #3 New York (2-2). New York is still in the playoff hunt, but will need an impressive win against their division’s hottest team. The Harlequins have been backed by the equal quality of their attack and defense, but New York will have fresh legs for this matchup, due to last week’s bye. Count this as the Match of the Week, as these two very good sides clash for Eastern supremacy.
Teams on Bye-Week: Glendale Merlins & Chicago North Shore


WPL Round-up Week 6

Week Six of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) marked the first round of rematches, and three of the teams that took defeat in round one won on the weekend.
The weekend began in San Francisco, and the Glendale vs. Life West match set a tenacious tone for the second half of the season. The game featured comebacks, sways of momentum, and was tied for approximately 20 minutes. In the end, the Merlins held on for a 31-29 victory and some valuable recompense.
“It was more of a mental thing for us,” Glendale head coach Luke Gross said of the significance of Saturday’s game. “I think we’ve had some team issues that we needed to sort out and today showed the ladies that team always trumps an individual’s ability … and we need to be a team to beat a solid team like Life West. It was a big growing moment for us. We weren’t worried about the win or loss because our standings wouldn’t change but we won in multiple ways today, which is great.”
The Merlins ran out to a 17-point lead in the opening 25 minutes. Good defensive pressure set up a penalty opportunity for McKenzie Hawkins 10 minutes in, and the inside center was good for those three points and another four conversions on the day. A scrum penalty allowed No. 8 Carmen Farmer to go quickly into a readjusting defense and link with wing Kaitlyn Broughton for the day’s first try. An errant lineout saw the Merlins pack consolidate into a driving maul, and then Carly Waters and Farmer broke free for more meters. Play went sideline to sideline before finishing in the hands of speedy Beatriz Amaral.
Life West got the boost it was looking for as fullback Leti Hingano turned the attack up-field for a line-break and try, and Hope Rogers, setting up on the wing, rumbled into the try zone just before the half: 17-10 Glendale. It took two minutes into the second half to even things up, as Elizabeth Cairns timed the pass to wing Neariah Persinger for solid gains along the sideline. The recycle moved back to the middle of the pitch, where Amy Naber Bonte darted through for the try, which Hingano converted: 17-all.
A 20-minute slugfest followed, and then the final 15 minutes produced four tries from Glendale’s Jenny Kronish and Amandine Chatelier, and Life West’s Persinger and Rogers. Hingano added a conversion to end the scoring, and Glendale banked the 31-29 win. Both teams earned bonus points for tries, and the Gladiatrix got another standings point for the close loss.


On the other side of the WPL West, Berkeley traveled to ORSU for a 34-7 win. All Blues head coach João Moura was pleased with the defense’s uptick in discipline, committing fewer penalties and keeping within its system. On attack, he praised the squad’s ability to play loose, produce fast ball and for sticking to its attacking strategy.
“We will keep on working on our breakdown area, even though we’re improving but still not enough to the level we want to play at,” Moura added.
Bulou Mataitoga scored in the first minute of the match, and then the Jesters responded shortly afterward with a Claire Lundy score and Emma Richie conversion. The home side held the 7-5 lead for another 10 minutes, until Mataitoga dotted down again and Maggie Simpson followed. Kristen Siano added a conversion for the 17-7 lead into the break. Berkeley replicated the effort in the second half, sending Simpson, Kedra Davis and Katy Augustyn away for tries, and Sam Miller kicked a conversion.


In the WPL East, those teams that lost their season openers on the road won their respective rematches at home. Atlanta hosted Beantown, and until the 30th minute, only Rosanna Wright had scored for the 5-0 Beantown edge.
“The first 20 minutes saw us under tremendous pressure, spending most of that time down in our half and Beantown with possession,” Atlanta head coach Ros Chou explained. “We were lucky to hold them just to five points, but when we started to launch more effectively, we started to turn the ball over and get the chance to have ball in hand. Once we did that, and played our style of rugby with pace, we started to see a shift in the momentum of the game.”
Chou called out Lara Gartner, Karen Faget, Karissa Lacy and Marcel Nelson, whose consistency and work rate on defense set up opportunities for explosive teammates like Kelli Smith, Cortney Kuehl and Megan Rom.
“Bridget Kahele gives us width on attack, and she’s a ferocious defender,” Chou added. “One try was just head’s up play on the short side, as she attacked around the fringe to freeze the near interior defenders, and skipped a pass out to the touch line to Karissa Lacy hitting on at pace.”
Smith, Lacy and Nelson scored in the first half, and Corinne Heavner’s two conversions provided a 19-5 halftime lead. Quins’ Mo Compito and Beantown’s Kathryn Treder dotted down in the second half (Heavner and Tatjana Toeldte added conversions) for the 26-12 scoreline, but then Heavener’s penalty made it a three-score game. Smith added a second try in the final 10 minutes for the 34-12 win.


Twin Cities moved past the dormant New York into second place in the WPL East standings and tightened up the point differential with a 56-17 win over visiting Chicago North Shore. The Amazons scored 35 unanswered points in the first half, as flyhalf Katana Howard, wing Danica Mooney-Jones, wing Kelsey Coley (2) and No. 8 Katie Johnson scored tries. Mooney-Jones was perfect on first-half conversions and ended the day with 21 points.
Chicago North Shore snapped the shutout in minute 52, when lock Anna Cohen-Price scored, and added two late scores through No. 8 Kadie Sanford and flyhalf Rose Dibalsamo. Inside center Nicole Fisch kicked the conversion for the visitors’ 17 points. In between, the Amazons put fullback Kaelene Lundstrum, lock Shaena Sparrow and flanker Katrina Anderson into the try zone for the league’s biggest win on the weekend.



Life West (4-1) @ Berkeley (3-2)
ORSU (0-5) @ San Diego (1-3)
Atlanta (4-1) @ New York (2-2)
Beantown (2-3) @ Twin Cities (3-2)

2019 WPL Expert Picks – Week 6

Top team matchups vying for conference command
The Eastern Conference seems to be anyone’s for the taking, especially after this week, while the Western Conference leaders will face off head-to-head for an exciting Week 6.
Kicking off the second half of the Women’s Premier League season is East’s top of the table, Atlanta (3-1) at home versus the challenging Beantown (2-2) side. Though the Harlequins are top of the table for record and points (15) there is a two-way tie for 2nd place with New York and Twin Cities, both 2-2 records with 10 points a piece. Beantown does have a 2-2 record, but they are in 3rd place due to points (9), and with a much needed win and hopeful bonus point, could see them into a potential two-way tie for 2nd place in the East. Other than Life West (4-0), Atlanta is one of the hottest teams of the season riding a three game winning streak, only after losing their opening game to this Beantown side. The Harlequins will be soundly prepared in facing off against a tough Boston club, who provided them their only loss of the season so far.
The Berkeley All-Blues (2-2) will host ORSU (0-4) in Northern California, where these West Coast clubs will be aiming to ramp up their efforts in gaining momentum moving forward. Berkeley is headed into this week’s matchup coming off a home victory against San Diego in Week 5, and will be looking to replicate the outcome against an ORSU side who is striving to find their footing within the 2019 season.
In the other Eastern Conference game, the Twin Cities Amazons (2-2) will have home field advantage against Chicago North Shore (1-3), in the solo Sunday matchup. Seeking to avenge their season opening loss against North Shore, the Amazons will surely have their hands full in stopping the passionate Chicago side. Following last week’s stellar performance against New York, Twin Cities are intending to repeat the outcome and even the score on their head-to-head matchup with the conference rival. Chicago has had an impressive defensive front giving up a season average of only 18.25 points per game, while the opposite can be mentioned regarding their offensive points per game, an 11.5 average seemingly heightened by the 31 points scored in the opener.
To wrap up this week’s preview, we present the Match of the Week with Overall record and points leader, Life West, at home versus the West’s 2nd ranked team, Glendale Merlins (3-1). The Merlins are riding a three game win streak after their first, and only, loss to the Gladiatrix in the season opener. This will be the last time these two clubs face-off in the regular season, with the Merlins traveling to the West Coast for the second week in a row in hopes of toppling the top team of the season, thus far. Life West has been unreal in their first four matches, averaging a massive 43.5 points per game, while only conceding an average of 15.5 points to their opponents. Glendale has been the team to score the most points against Life West this year so far, and may have the secret formula in breaking their stellar defensive front.
Teams on Bye-Week: San Diego Surfers & New York Rugby Club


WPL Round-up Week 5

The fifth week of the Women’s Premier League has elapsed, and now all 10 teams have completed the first half of their regular seasons. The closest game of the weekend again involved Berkeley, which was coming off of a two-point loss to Glendale in week four.
“Recovering from that loss with Glendale was, surprisingly, easy,” Berkeley head coach João Moura explained. “The team realized it was a close game and could have gone either way. … It was a good learning moment for us and one more step in our season’s path, providing us with a good opportunity for another hard but motivated week of work preparing the game with San Diego.”
The Surfers traveled to the Bay Area and took the first lead through a Megan Foster try. The All Blues then spent the subsequent 30 minutes setting up four scores: two tries from New York transfer Kristen Siano, and one apiece from Allison Byrne and Bulou Mataitoga. Siano also added two conversions for the team’s 24 points.
“On one hand, we focused essentially on what has been our strengths: An organized defense trying to reduce spaces and take advantage of the good work the forwards have done in the set piece to enable us to play with quality ball,” Moura reviewed team foci. “On the other hand, and perhaps most importantly, was to continue to improve each player’s capacity to maintain mental toughness through the whole game. In both of these two aspects, the team was amazing!”
San Diego responded through a Foster penalty and tries from Teigan MacDonald and Julia Buescher, but Berkeley held on for the 24-18 win. Berkeley (2-2) got the bonus point for four tries and sit in third place in the WPL West, while 1-3 San Diego got the bonus point for a loss by fewer than seven points.


On the other side of the WPL West, Glendale beat a visiting ORSU 98-0, a victory that added some valuable separation in the standings in terms of point differential. Kaitlyn Broughton, the former Atlanta Harlequin who debuted for the Merlins in week four, scored six tries from wing. Fellow finisher and wing Beatrix Amaral added three tries, while prop Az Nalbandian, No. 8 Carmen Farmer, flyhalf Gabby Cantorna, center Juliann Tordonato, and reserves Jeanna Beard, Kelsie O’Brien and Allison Schrenker all added a try apiece. Cantorna kicked five conversions, while McKenzie Hawkins slotted four.
The Merlins are 3-1 sit in second place in the WPL West behind 4-0 Life West. The 0-4 Jesters are looking for their first win of the season.


In the WPL East, both victors scored 22 points and earned a bonus point for four tries scored. New York and Beantown kicked it off with a Saturday night game.
“We’re still building confidence in our attack, so there was a huge focus on defense,” New York head coach Tiff Faaee said of work leading into the match. “We’ve been very good with chaos rugby at the moment – putting the pressure on, creating turnover ball, and then seeing if we can score. If we do that, then the offense will come.”
Host Beantown took the first lead as flyhalf Tatjana Toeldte slotted a penalty. Minutes later, wing Sarah Levy scored for the lead change and lock Alycia Washington dotted down to close out the half, 10-3 to New York. Both defenses stood the test for the majority of the second half, but then in the waning minutes, New York broke through for back-to-back tries from Gio Cruz and Misha Green. Flyhalf Tess Feury’s conversion afforded the 22-3 win and the bonus point moved 2-2 New York into second place in the standings.
“They were having fun,” Faaee noted a change in the team’s demeanor. “The WPL makes people anxious at the start because it’s next level, and college kids are coming through and they need to adjust. Now that we’re in game four, there’s more clarity and confidence, and you’re hearing more voices on the pitch. There’s more positive reinforcement, because everyone’s doing their job, and it showed in the result.”


Twin Cities and Beantown are also 2-2 in the WPL East, and all conference members have at least one win. Atlanta (3-1) leads and logged its third victory of the season, defeating the 1-3 Chicago North Shore 22-7 on the road.
“Conditions were wet, as there was a big storm the night and morning before kickoff, so it was hard to maintain continuity with a number of handling errors,” Atlanta coach Ros Chou noted. “North Shore was skilled in attacking our breakdowns forcing turnovers. Their goal-line defense was like a brick wall, and with the wet conditions we didn’t have a ton of success moving the ball to the edges like we normally would do.”
With that said, wing Mo Compito scored minutes into the match and established a lead that Atlanta would not relinquish. A trio of Harlequins debutants – New York transfer Shamira Robles, Beantown transfer Kelli Smith, North Shore transfer Christiane Pheil – added dimension to the game, and Robles scored two first-half tries. Flyhalf Corinne Heavner kicked a conversion for 17 points in the first stanza. Host North Shore broke up Robles’ tries with a converted score to keep it close but then lock Lisa Jackson put the game away with a bonus point-awarding try.
“Last year I think we only had one win on the road and it was against the D.C. Furies,” Chou reflected. “To have two road wins has definitely been a morale boost, and the excitement on the team continues to build. We are getting more familiar with each other, and look forward to be full steam ahead when we get Darian Lovelace and Chi Chi Chukwueke back in the mix [from injury]. Selections will get more difficult, but we have a group ready to step up to the challenge and ready to keep improving every week.”



Beantown (2-2) @ Atlanta (3-1)
Berkeley (2-2) @ ORSU (0-4)
Glendale (3-1) @ Life West (4-0)
Chicago North Shore (1-3) @ Twin Cities (2-2)

Scouting For The Next Women’s Eagles

Rob Cain shares some insights from the WPL Tour that is currently underway.
One of the best ways to find the talent on the pitch is to go to the pitch. That is precisely what Women’s Eagles Head Coach, Rob Cain has been doing on his Women’s Premier League (WPL) scouting tour. WPL is the highest level of domestic competition for women rugby in America. With a year under his belt and having already experienced this tour before, Cain is finding the process to be positive in more than one way.
“It’s been great to be back out seeing the players in their own environments, being part of trainings and having the individual skill sessions, watching some great individual and team performances , thank you to all the clubs and colleges for being so open , this contact time is crucial as it our joint collaboration for the players development. Thanks to the past year and the number of test matches our national team has played, we have a good understanding of what international rugby is demanding from our players – from a tactical, physical and technical standpoint. This allows us to identify how we can best support the players whether, through individual, positional or unit attributes,” Cain noted.
“Run catch pass , seeing space , ability to beat defenders , being creative, problem solving these are things that we are we looking out for and its been great to see this throughout the game.” While scouting, Cain explained how they are looking for players that fit in the national teams’ short and long term development plans.
“Short term and long terms this allows us to have more inner competition in the player pool, we want to see players do well and challenge each other through their performances and form. We know the positive direction we are headed. Our players showcased some great strides during the Women’s Super Series performances and unpacked some very important trends while playing against some of the best teams in the world. This inner competition through our domestic game is fundamental to the players continued development, its been great to see so many close games so far , enabling players to consistently experience so many different challenges , all the time learning through experiences”.
“In terms of building a team, we are looking in the long term perspective from where we are. With a World Cup on the horizon, we want to give athletes enough playing opportunities that help them become a more settled squad with a definitive USA Women’s playing style.” Luckily, Cain is seeing many players who are showing great potential. There is nothing better than seeing people do well and showcase their talents. There have been some really nice surprises while on tour, in terms of where we saw players at the regional training vs. where they are now.”
“I would say the first few weeks of the WPL and alongside my involvement with the U-20s in the UK and the All-Star week has unearthed many players who are making impressions.” Cain shared that the number one thing that a player can do to make a good impression is to be themselves.
“We want players to showcase what they can do, what they are good at, and what makes them stand out. What makes them, them. If you carry the ball well then carry the ball; if you have great feet/step and can beat a player then do it; if you are quick then show us; if you are a dominant scrummager or strong in contact, let’s see it. Whatever it is you do well, show us. Apart from this, our message is always simple things done well. Focus on the small details; everyone has something slightly different.”
“We are very much focusing on individuals during this time. There are so many questions we ask while scouting but here are a few we think about: do they study? Do they work? What challenges could they face away from rugby? Where they are currently in terms of their skill sets; what sets them apart; how long will their development take; how can we best support them; and do we think they transition their domestic form onto the international stage”
“These are exciting times ahead for the program – more contact time, more games, more test matches, more opportunities to turn the IF into a WHEN with success against the top teams in the world.” Cain will continue the WPL scouting tour through the first week of October. To learn more or
support your local WPL team visit wplrugby.org.

2019 WPL Round-up Week 4

Four teams picked up bonus points and three victors won on the road
Women’s Premier League West Conference standings leader, Life West (4-0) is the first team to four wins, having traveled to San Diego (1-2) for a 40-16 victory.
“We are very pleased with the result against San Diego in what was a physical and combative game,” Life West Director of Rugby Adriaan Ferris enthused. “The defensive effort in particular was a highlight, especially after giving up four tries in the game last week. Our connection on defense and physicality in contact set the tone for a strong performance.”
Leti Hingano led all point-scorers with a try and five conversions, while Amy Naber Bonte (2), Elizabeth Cairns, Nicole Strasko and Neariah Persinger also scored. Megan Foster took advantage of three penalty opportunities and also converted Ashlee Byrge’s try to end the day 11 points.
“We are able to head into the bye round in good shape and reflect on a some key learnings we have taken away from each game so far,” Ferris looked at the previous month. “We know it is only going to get tougher in the back half of the season.”


Twin Cities also heads into a two-week prep period with some momentum, having downed New York (1-2) 39-20 in Minnesota. For head coach Rebecca Radtke and assistant coach Lynelle Kugler – who are former Amazons – and the squad itself, the first half of the season has been a learning process.
Twin Cities head coach Rebecca Radtke mentioned of whether the team is where it should be midway through the season. “I’m new to them as much as they’re new to me. It’s as much of them learning about me and Lynelle as us learning about them. I’ve learned that they can be more physical than they think they can be,” the coach said of lessons along the way. “Against Beantown [in week two], they initiated contact at all levels, on offense and defense. Today, when they found themselves as initiators of contact that led to positive outcomes.”
Good communication wove a more cohesive performance, and the team got an early lift as fullback Kaelene Lundstrum scored in the third minute. New York’s Chloe Jex answered 20 minutes later following a yellow card advantage, 5-5. Twin Cities sent Brittany O’Dell and Katana Howard into the try zone, and the first of Danica Mooney-Jones’ conversions put the home side up 17-5. By game’s end, Sarah Roche, Kelsey Coley, Shaena Sparrow and Rachel Lentsch added tries for Twin Cities, while New York added 15 second-half points through Misha Green’s try, Gianna Solomon’s conversion and Tess Feury’s penalty. The Amazons sit in second place in the WPL East, and New York will travel to Beantown Saturday to close out the first half of the season.


Rain had slowed the first half of the aforementioned match, and Beantown (2-1) and Chicago North Shore (1-2) experienced similarly wet conditions in the Windy City. Beantown head coach Tadhg Leader asked for three things: 1) A fast-up defense that cut off passing lanes and pressured North Shore’s wide-open attack; 2) an uptick in physicality in contact; and 3) a tactical kicking game. The first half went according to plan, and the visitors used its possession to put hooker Kathryn Treder and wing Kat Phelan away for tries, 10-0 at the half.
“Tats [Tatjana Toeldte], our flyhalf, again did a great job in the conditions, constantly putting them under pressure and turning them around through her kicking game,” Leader said of standouts. “The kick is only as good as the chase, and I told our wing, Brittany [Dykes], that her job was to chase down everything that was kicked. Put pressure on them and make them feel uncomfortable.”
Leader also called out lock Claire Collins and flanker Claire Stingley for setting the tone in the forwards, and was pleased with the oppressive defense. There was more parity in the second half and North Shore did well to take advantage with a penalty while holding Beantown scoreless: 10-3 the final. “We used the bench with confidence and now know that we can bring fresh blood on the field and they’ll do a good job,” Leader highlighted WPL first-timer T Fletcher as one such impact player. “Three weeks ago in my first game, I might not have made those subs as quickly, because I wasn’t aware of who they are and what they can do.”


The closest game occurred in San Francisco, where Glendale (2-1) and Berkeley (1-2) scored three tries apiece. An extra conversion, however, afforded the Merlins the 19-17 win, while the All Blues settled for the bonus point in the loss. Glendale No. 8 Carmen Farmer and scrumhalf Carly Waters worked well together off the back of the scrum and making consistent meters on the short side. Farmer scored the team’s two first-half tries, which built on penalty opportunities. A scrum penalty saw the No. 8 tap quickly through Berkeley’s five meter, and the second occurred after three penalties allowed the first half to extend well beyond 40 minutes. Again from short range, Farmer drove across the line and Gabby Cantorna’s earlier conversion afforded 12 first-half points.
Following a yellow card near the 20-minute mark, a solid lineout moved wide to fullback Serena Liu, who worked the defense with Laura Thacker as the outside option and scored. Ten minutes later, Katy Augustyn finished off a controlled forward campaign to the line. The ball then moved one pass away from the breakdown and the Eagle hooker used that room to dive across. Sam Miller converted for the 12 first-half points. The home side quickly extended its lead to 17-12 three minutes into the second half.
“They definitely had some speed, and a couple players who are new that we haven’t seen before,” Glendale vice captain and Player of the Match Joanna Kitlinski said of Berkeley’s assets. “So I definitely think they have some good players, but overall we made mistakes and we let them capitalize on a couple of those knock-ons and offloads that we had. It was definitely our ball that we gave to them.”
With fewer than 10 minutes remaining in the match, flanker Rachel Ehrecke took a quick tap from inside Berkeley’s 10 meter for the try and tying points. WPL debutant McKenzie Hawkins kicked the centered conversion for the 19-17 lead that held through regulation. “We were tied pretty much the entire game. And then in the second half we decided that we had to pick it up and kind of finish it out,” Kitlinski said. “But Berkeley, it’s definitely always a battle when we play them, so we knew it was going to be a close game.”



East Conference

Beantown 10 – 3 Chicago
Twin Cities 39 – 20 New York

West Conference

Life West 40 – 16 San Diego
Glendale 19 – 17 Berkeley


Saturday, September 14th

ORSU (0-3) @ Glendale (2-1) – 1:00 PM MDT
San Diego (1-2) @ Berkeley (1-2) – 1:00PM PDT
New York (1-2) @ Beantown (2-1) – 6:00PM EDT

Sunday, September 15th

Atlanta (2-1) @ Chicago North Shore (1-2) – 12:00PM CDT


Life West (4-0) & Twin Cities (2-1)