WPL Week 7 Recap: Drama Continues to Rise

Now the expectation, the Women’s Premier League did not disappoint in its level of drama. The Blue Conference produced a tie and five-point decision, while the Red Conference victors reorganized the standings once again. 

There was only one Saturday game this round, and San Diego traveled to Glendale for a top-of-the-table rematch.

“Glendale and San Diego definitely have a sense of familiarity with each other. So on game day it’s all about who can execute better,” Glendale scrumhalf Jenny Lui reflected on the 31-31 outcome. “It was a great game. And it can only help the league and the growth of the game to have strong teams who push each other, and that makes for some really exciting rugby.”

San Diego scrumhalf Liz Trujillo scored five minutes into the game, and inside center Megan Foster, back from the USA Falcons’ trip to Hokkaido, Japan, kicked the first of her four conversions. Glendale flyhalf Hannah Stolba got the home side on the board minutes later with a penalty, and then Foster scored a try, conversion and penalty to give the Surfers a 17-3 halftime lead.

“San Diego is a dangerous team that is very good at punishing errors. And they certainly did that in the first half,” Lui added. “But I was happy with how our team stayed calm and together and was able to bounce back in the second half. Now we have to work on upping that level of execution even more.”

Glendale surged in the third quarter, putting wing Nichole Wanamaker away for two tries and reserve prop Maya Learned for a third. Stolba converted all three for the 24-17 lead. The Surfers then regrouped and regained the lead as No. 8 Kate Zackary and wing Tiffany Tate dotted down, 31-24 with Foster’s conversions and approximately 10 minutes to go. In the waning minutes, reserve Matelina Maluia was yellow carded, and the Merlins made good on the advantage, as Wanamaker scored her third try. The crucial conversion from Stolba fell over, and there the game ended: 31-31.

On the other side of the bracket, Berkeley was back on the road for a fourth-straight game and looking to snap a two-game losing streak. But ORSU honed the momentum early on and 10 minutes in put flanker Rachel Johnson away for the opening try, 5-0.

“ORSU came out hard and got on the board early. They ran their forwards at the hinge and were aggressive at the breakdown,” Berkeley prop Naima Reddick recapped. “We took that as an opportunity to remind ourselves to do the little things right and answered back with three tries before the half.”

Inside center Bulou Mataitoga scored two tries and added a conversion, and prop Elena Edwards dotted down. ORSU scored through prop Adrienne Acosta, and flyhalf Karissa Postula’s conversion produced a 17-12 lead to Berkeley at the break.

The exchanges continued into the second half, and the teams actually went try for try. Berkeley’s three scores came from Reddick (2) and flyhalf Evan Hoese, and scrumhalf Shelby Lin added conversions. ORSU put Johnson, No. 8 Te Awhina Ho Chee and lock Gabrielle Dixson into the try zone, and Postula handled the extras, 36-31 the final.

“The cool thing about this All Blues team is that we’re really supportive and we just next job’d it and went back to basics,” Reddick noted that both sides struggled with penalties. “I think yesterday was a good win for us because it showed us that we can come from behind and fight through. When we didn’t commit to the basics, there were consequences; but when we made smart choices, there were rewards. I think we needed this game on a lot of levels.”

In the Red Conference, Twin Cities entered the weekend in third place and traveled to second-place Beantown. The teams tied when they played in Minnesota, and during the first half of Sunday’s game, both scored two tries. Yeja Dunn and Miranda Wakimoto scored for Beantown, and Twin Cities put lock Shaena Sparrow and outside center Kelsey Coley in for five apiece. Beantown center Tatjana Toeldte converted, and Twin Cities fullback Megan Wolff went 2-2 for a 14-12 lead at the break.

During the next 30 minutes, Twin Cities averaged a try every 10 minutes, as No. 8 Katie Johnson, scrumhalf Rachel Lentsch and flyhalf Katana Howard scored. Then, in the final 10 minutes, wing Kaelene Lundstrum and Lentsch (2) matched the try count, and Wolff added another four conversions for the 52-12 win.

The New York vs. Atlanta game was the highest-scoring affair of the weekend, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that New York really pulled away for the 58-32 win. The victory came at the right time for the defending champion.

“We were definitely frustrated coming off of two losses,” New York co-captain Jenn Salomon said of the Beantown and Twin Cities defeats that preceded the outing. “We knew we had the personnel to succeed … but we were definitely lacking some chemistry in terms of game plan. That was something that hit us after the loss to Beantown, and we made some changes after that. It was actually a blessing to have that bye week then, because it gave us time to rally and find out what we needed as a team.”

New York and former head coach Andrew Britt parted ways, and Tiff Faaee and Lucia Oswald stepped in as coaching staff. There’s a lot of trust and knowledge in this leadership, and it helped right New York for the second half of the season.

“We knew how important it was to win this game and came in with the mentality that we have each other’s backs and that losing was not an option,” Salomon said.

After a tight first half, New York settled into a faster game, which rested on the forwards’ ability to maintain possession through multiple phases. Fast ball made its way through the backs’ hands – something that had been lacking in previous games – and well worked, sideline-to-sideline tries followed (click here for scoring details). IN the final 15 minutes, New York scored four tries for the 26-point win.

To view the current standings and upcoming schedule visit

Home Score Away
Glendale Merlins 31-31 San Diego Surfers
ORSU 31-36 Berkeley All Blues
Beantown 12-52 Twin Cities Amazons
New York Rugby 58-32 Atlanta Harlequins

WPL Week 6 Recap: Teams Learn From Week One Results

After Week 6 of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), new teams sit atop the Blue Conference and Red Conference standings.

Beantown won a 17-15 decision over Atlanta in Week 1, and then entered the rematch as the top two teams in the Red Conference standings. The rematch was a highly anticipated one, and it favored the Harlequins, which were celebrating their alumni weekend, to the tune of 43-12.

“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Atlanta head coach Kitt Ruiz said. “It was very nice to put up points and we had some great continuity. It’s just awesome to see this happening.”

But the game did not break open until the second quarter, when wing-turned-flanker Chi Chi Chuwueke scored the first of two first-half tries. Hooker Tayler VanHoosier-McNeill added a third, and flyhalf Corinne Heavner kicked the conversion for the 17-0 halftime lead.

“We’ve been working really hard on defense and were able to hold them scoreless in the first half,” said Ruiz, a Beantown alumna. “At one point, we were in our end, and they were coming at us phase after phase. We were actually able to push them back, and that was a great feeling.

“In the second half, we let in a try pretty early, two minutes in, and there was a little concern – are they flat? Are they tired,” Ruiz recalled. “But we dialed it back in. We let in one more try, but the defense stepped up and played to our system. And then other things we’ve been working on – playing in our shape and attacking with width – they looked good, too.”

Fullback Kelli Smith and hooker Emily Jones accounted for Beantown’s tries, and the front row also added the conversion. Wing Mo Compito, outside center Cortney Kuehl and reserves Laketa Sutton and Julia Phillips added second-half tries for Atlanta, while Heavner slotted the conversions for the 31-point win.

“Coming into this match, we said, ‘Remember how you felt at the final whistle against Beantown [in Week 1]? How do you want to feel at the end of this game,'” Ruiz said of this game’s prep. “This was an opportunity – not to rewrite the story but to add another chapter, and solidify that we’re improving every week. Sure, there was some chat about, if we won this weekend, then we’d have the opportunity to be first in the bracket, and it’s awesome that we were able to accomplish that, even if it’s only for one week.”

Atlanta’s bonus-point win puts the Harlequins ahead of Beantown by one standings point. Twin Cities also banked a bonus-point win, defeating the visiting D.C. Furies 58-15 and leap-frogging over New York into third position. The defending champions, like Glendale, had a bye this round and will resume league play this weekend at home, against Atlanta.

In the Week 1 match-up between D.C. and Twin Cities, the Furies edged the visiting Amazons 33-31. Twin Cities was eager in the rematch, and the first half was one-way traffic. Fullback Megan Wolff led the first 40 with 14 points on a try, penalty and three conversions. Lock Shaena Sparrow, prop Lanoira Duhart, No. 8 Bailey Johnson, scrumhalf Rachel Lentsch and wing Kaelene Lundstrum all dotted down. A penalty try was awarded to captain and inside center Sylvia Braaten, and the Amazons led 46-0 at the break.

The Furies only traveled with 18 rostered players but regrouped well for the second half. In fact, D.C. outscored Twin Cities 15-12. Wing Lauran Glover, lock Katherine Hanson and flyhalf Sam Moorhead all scored, while Twin Cities’ Lentsch and Braaten scored their second tries of the day. Wolff handled the extras for the team’s second victory of the season.

The Blue Conference reunited San Diego and Berkeley, and the Surfers were looking to salve a 17-12 loss from Week 1. The SoCal side got the recompense it was looking for, beating the All Blues 43-5 and reclaiming the top spot in the standings over idle Glendale.

Prop Nicole Burr, flyhalf Rachel Griendling, scrumhalf Teigan MacDonald and outside center Kimdinh Tran scored in the first half, and fullback Tia Blythe – who was stellar defensively – kicked three conversions for the 26-0 halftime lead.

“We’ve been a first-half team all year, and nothing changed with that,” San Diego captain and flanker Sam Pankey referenced the four first-half tries. “But [Saturday], we didn’t let up in the second half. Everyone contributed. We had forwards slicing up the defense and backs running over people.”

McDonald and No. 8 Kate Zackary scored before Berkeley got on the board, courtesy of wing Elena Clark. Zackary logged one more try before the end of the game, and with Blythe’s extras, San Diego notched a solid, bonus-try win.

“We knew we had to bring our A-game going into this one, and we certainly did,” Pankey asserted. “Of course, we have work-ons. We need to tighten up our set pieces, work on our continuity on defense, and focus on getting ball to hand, but these are things we have consistently improved upon all year, and we don’t expect to stop improving now. We’re better going into the second half of the season and hope to be the best in the country come Nationals.”

Coincidentally, the only game with a competitive scoreline was the only Week 1 rematch that produced a lopsided score. When Chicago North Shore traveled to ORSU in the opening weekend, the team returned with a 44-10 loss. Since then, the Illinois squad has enjoyed several weeks at home, bonding and building, and that was all apparent on Sunday. The home side took a 10-0 lead into the break, as fullback Jessica Ventrillo and outside center Kat Stanley scored tries.

ORSU scored shortly after the break, but then Chicago North Shore rebuilt its lead with tries through flanker Brittany Simunac and reserve Lauren Eberling. Stanley added two conversions for a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Jesters then launched into a furious rally, and during the last 10 minutes of the match, touched down three tries. Flyhalf Emma Richie’s crucial conversions afforded a 26-24 victory at the death. It was a devastating result for North Shore, which is still looking for its first win and will round out its regular season with three-straight away games.

North Shore did bank two bonus points in the loss, and the Jesters also banked a four-try standings point. The Portland team trails third-place Berkeley by two standings points.

Week 6 Results

Home Score Away
Atlanta Harlequins 43-12 Beantown
Twin Cities Amazons 58-15 D.C Furies
San Diego Surfers 43-5 Berkeley All Blues
Chicago North Shore 24-26 ORSU

For more information, visit

WPL Week 5 Recap: Standings Solidified at Halfway Mark

The Women’s Premier League is now at its halfway point, with all teams having played four games. Both conferences saw their standings adjust once again, building more anticipation for the second half of the season and run-up to nationals (Oct. 26-28, Atlanta).

Beantown (3-0-1) is now four standings points ahead of Atlanta (2-2) and New York (2-2) in the Red Conference, and got that cushion after a 33-30 win Sunday against the reigning national champion. The highly anticipated showdown occurred in New York, and USA Women’s 15s head coach Rob Cain was also in attendance. He praised a game that featured “end-to-end drama, great spectacle … with some really well executed, exciting tries scored.”

There were three lead changes in the first half, as New York dotted down three tries and Beantown two. Flyhalf Miranda Wakimoto and inside center Kimber Rozier finished out Beantown’s first-half tries, and Rozier added both conversions – 15-14 to New York at halftime. The final lead change occurred when lock Stacey Bridges finished out the next two Beantown scoring opportunities, and Rozier added both conversions, 28-15.

New York continued on, however, closing in with another two unconverted tries (28-25), before Beantown restored the winning margin with a Kelli Smith try, who scored from fullback. New York got one more try before the final whistle, 33-30 the final.

On the other side of the Red Conference, Atlanta (2-2) flew to D.C. (1-3) for a 51-12 win, and with it, surpassed New York in the standings. The win took some time to evolve, however, but the result was a reaffirming one.

The D.C. Furies jumped out to a 12-0 lead, as flyhalf Sam Moorhead and outside center Nate Serevi dotted down and scrumhalf Maggie Myles added the conversion.

“We have yet to master our intensity in warm-up and focus in the beginning of the game. And it was a great atmosphere for D.C., with 100-plus alumni on the sidelines,” Atlanta assistant coach Ros Chou said. “Twice we took the ball down the field to their five meter and coughed it up, so it was about getting in the groove and taking care of the ball.”

It started to come together near the 30-minute mark, and wing Christina Swift and outside center Cortney Kuehl finished offensive drives in the try zone. Flyhalf Corinne Heavner’s conversion tied it up and then a penalty in the 38th minute gave the Harlequins the lead for good, 15-12.

“We were missing quite a few starting forwards, but we know we have depth this year. Two backs played in the back row this game: Mo Compito, who is now the team backs captain, started at six, and Kandis Ruiz got time at seven. We have been learning to be very flexible,” Chou said. “We asked a lot of Mo, and she was pretty tired at the end of the game, but she has a new-found appreciation for what happens in the forwards.”

Compito scored back-to-back tries to kick off the second half, followed by Pat Neder, two from wing Cynthia Campbell, and a final from fullback Lara Gartner. Heavner ended the day with 11 points on four conversions and a penalty.

“In the past two games, and even against Life West, we were letting in tries in the last 15 minutes of the game, and it’s something we focused on in the week leading up to this one,” Chou said of improvements. “After shutting them out for the last 15 minutes, D.C. was threatening again, but we were able to withstand that pressure. That’s a positive for us as we try to play a complete game.”

There are three teams at 3-1 in the Blue Conference, and 2017 runner-up Glendale sits atop the standings after week five. The Merlins traveled to Chicago North Shore (0-4) on Saturday and posted the league’s first shutout, 45-0.

“In regards to our team defense I think we just found a level of determination that we hadn’t had in our other games. It definitely allowed us to play more on attack as well,” Glendale flyhalf Hannah Stolba reviewed. “Kudos to North Shore for their resilience all day. Our forwards stepped up big defensively and it allowed our backs to play in some space.”

All of the tries were finished through the backs, as Stolba (who also kicked five conversions), outside center Christen Suda and reserve Hannah Tennant all dotted down. And wing Nichole Wanamaker put in a big effort, scoring four of Glendale’s seven tries.

“Wanamaker finished a couple of great team tries but she did it with some really aggressive lines of run and finishing pace,” Stolba praised. “Her mentality got her through the line a few times and she really impressed with her angles and pace. She had fun, too, and just played great all around.”

ORSU (1-3) hosted San Diego on the other side of the conference, and the visitors opened up the scoring quickly. Fullback Tia Blythe and inside center Megan Foster combined for the first try and conversion, and there the scoreboard sat for the next 20-plus minutes. Captain and flanker Sam Pankey then dotted down back-to-back tries in a manner of minutes, and Foster’s conversion gave the Surfers a 19-0 lead after 32 minutes.

The Jesters surged as halftime neared, pulling to within five as flanker Rachel Johnson and wing Kimberly Law scored, and flyhalf Emma Richie converted. Right after the break, Johnson scored her second, and the teams were tied at 19.

San Diego was yellow-carded as well, and it was a make-or-break moment for the Californians. The Surfers not only rallied around the player disadvantage but sent Pankey in for the flanker’s third try of the day, 24-19. No. 8 Kate Zackary added a little more breathing room at the 60-minute mark with a try, 29-19. ORSU worked its bench, bringing on the last of its reserves in the final 10 minutes, but it was Johnson, again, who scored at the 80th. The flanker is second on the list of tries scored with seven this season, behind New York wing Sarah Levy. Richie converted for the 29-26 final.

The Jesters did not leave empty-handed, banking two bonus points for tries scored and a loss by fewer than seven points. New York also logged two bonus points in its high-scoring loss.

Week Five Results: 

Home Score Score Away
D.C. Furies 12 51 Atlanta Harlequins
ORSU 26 29 San Diego Surfers
Chicago North Shore 0 45 Glendale Merlins
New York Rugby 30 33 Beantown Rugby

Week Six Match-ups:

Home Away
Atlanta Harlequins Beantown Rugby
Twin Cities Amazons D.C Furies
Chicago North Shore ORSU
San Diego Surfers Berkeley All Blues

WPL Standings Tighten in Week 4

Two previously undefeated teams took their first losses of the season, and now the Women’s Premier League (WPL) standings have tightened up after four rounds of play.

Twin Cities (1-2-1) got its first win of the season – 39-10 over reigning champion New York (2-1) – and currently sits in third in the Red Conference. Meanwhile, Beantown (2-0-1) leapt to the top of the standings after defeating the D.C. Furies (1-2) 52-3 on home soil.

The Amazons had lost both road games thus far, and their previous home match ended in a draw with Beantown. New York, which rostered 17 players in Minnesota, wanted to get out in front quickly and sent Sarah Levy in for the first of two scores from the wing. The WPL newcomer currently leads all point-scorers with eight tries thus far.

The home side welcomed back Katie Johnson, who made an impact from No. 8 and scored the subsequent two tries. Flanker Rebecca Brown, inside center Sylvia Braaten and wing Kaelene Lundstrum scored before the break, and fullback Megan Wolff’s conversion gave the Amazons a 27-5 lead.

In the second stanza, Twin Cities lock Marina McCuskey dotted down a sixth try, and at the 60-minute mark, prop Alicia Gillberg added another five. Wolff kicked the extras for a healthy 39-5 lead into the fourth quarter, and with minutes left in the match, Levy notched her second try to end the game.

“Our goals [Sunday] were to connect and to finish on the opportunities we create. New York is a very solid squad and we knew in order to compete we had to execute and take care of the ball,” Twin Cities captain Sylvia Braaten explained. “We did a better job of keeping our intensity high throughout the match but still have much to improve on. We are looking forward to taking the momentum of [Sunday’s] win into the second half of the season.”

The scoreboard was relatively quiet during the first quarter of the Beantown vs. DC Furies game. Beantown fullback Michelle Omondi scored in the opening minute and inside center Kimber Rozier converted. D.C. flyhalf Lauren Rhode kicked the team’s only points at the 20-minute mark (7-3), and then Beantown found its groove to the tune of eight more tries.

“We’re so excited with our growth this fall, and can’t wait to get back to work this week,” Beantown co-captain Claire Stingley enthused. “We’ve been working on building a rhythm and trusting our system on attack, and this week we saw it really starting to click: We were able to move the ball well and capitalize on opportunities. 

“We’ve been aggressively developing our technical skills the past couple weeks, and our trainings are paying off both in continuity and team cohesion,” the flanker continued. “We still have a lot of hard work to do, but this team is hungry for more progress.”

Stingley credited the Furies’ strong, shifty runners for challenging the defense and forcing quick readjustments, but Beantown had more success with ball in hand. Weapons like Omondi, who scored four tries in the first half, found great success. Rozier’s try and three additional conversions gave the home team a 33-3 halftime lead, and the second half continued on steadily. Lock Stacey Bridges, Stingley and WPL debutante Kelli Smith added tries, while Rozier handled the extras, 52-3 the final.

The closest game on the scoreboard occurred in Chicago, as North Shore (0-3) hosted San Diego (2-1) for both teams’ third game of the season. The Surfers raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead, as lock Laura Easterling, wing Tiffany Tate (2) and flyhalf Hunter Griendling scored tries. Inside center Megan Foster kicked two conversions, and that marked the end of San Diego’s scoring. 

North Shore did rally in the second half, holding San Diego scoreless and sending reserve Bridget Kapinus into the try zone near the fourth-quarter mark. Prop Charli Jacoby, who impressed USA 15s head coach Rob Cain in attendance, scored the game’s final try for the 24-10 final. In addition to Jacoby, Cain added North Shore flanker Brittany Simunac to the USA player pool.

On the other side of the Blue Conference, Glendale (2-1) hosted Berkeley (3-1) in its home opener and banked a 46-21 win.

“Berkeley pushed us all over the field – at least, that’s what it felt like. The scoreline was not indicative of the game or how it felt,” Glendale captain Sarah Chobot said. “Berkeley was really physical, and it was a weird game – injuries and blood stoppages, lots of yellow cards. And there were passages of play where it’d be a long break for us and then a long break for them – more like a track meet. But Berkeley pressed us in everything.”

The Merlins took the first lead through flanker Rachel Ehrecke, who ended the day with two tries, and is one of several WPL first-years making an immediate impact in Colorado. The All Blues answered with back-to-back scores from Evan Hoese – who along with fellow center Cathy Cai drew high praise from Chobot – and wing Serena Liu. With Sam Miller’s conversions, Berkeley led 14-5 after 20 minutes.

The second 20 saw Glendale reclaim the lead, as lock Charlotte Thompson, Chobot and Ehrecke scored for a 20-14 halftime edge. Glendale extended its lead through prop Melissa Polheber and flyhalf Hannah Stolba, who converted both (34-14), before Berkeley hooker Katy Augustyn scored a third try for the NorCal squad, 34-21 with Miller’s extras.

“We definitely trusted our fitness, which is something the new coaching staff pushed early on,” Chobot reflected on the final 20 minutes of the match. “We cleared our bench and they did a great job.” 

A final burst of energy saw wing Justine Wypych and flanker Joanna Kitlinski close out the game with tries, and Stolba’s conversion afforded the 46-21 win. Ehrecke and Thompson earned MVP accolades for Glendale, while Hoese and Cai were recognized on Berkeley.

“We’re happy with the win, and with the bonus point, but we’re definitely not satisfied about playing a complete game. We have tons of things to work on,” Chobot ended.

The Blue Conference standings have not changed in order, but with Berkeley getting the bye this weekend, there’s potential for a new leader in week five. In the Red Conference, standings toppers Beantown and New York will meet in the Big Apple on Sunday afternoon.

For scores, standings and more, visit

Home  Score Score Away
Beantown Rugby  52 3 D.C. Furies 
Glendale Merlins 46 21 Berkeley All Blues
Chicago North Shore 10 24 San Diego Surfers
Twin Cities Amazons  39 10 New York Rugby 

WPL Round 3 Sees Emphatic Victories

In week three of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), the closest game came down to Berkeley and Chicago North Shore. The All Blues traveled to the Windy City for the first of four-straight road games, and held off a tenacious North Shore for a 36-29 win.

“Possession was hotly contested at ruck time [and] coupled with handling errors, no one really had possession for very long,” Berkeley prop Naima Reddick recalled the back-and-forth match. “It was also close to 90 degrees and humid, so I don’t think anyone was in their ideal conditions.”

The visitors took a 12-0 lead after 15 minutes, scoring through fullback Serena Liu and outside center Evan Hoese, who ended the day with three tries. Flyhalf Sam Miller added the first of three conversions. Berkeley scored a third first-half try when No. 8 Kedra Davis touched down, but not before Lindenwood graduate Laura Enk crossed for five. Fellow WPL newcomer Jessica Ventrillo followed with a try before the halftime whistle, and Berkeley held a 19-10 lead.

Enk opened up the second half with a second try, and Gabby Whittinghill’s conversion pulled the scoreline to 19-17, Berkeley. The next score was the crucial one – would North Shore take the lead or would the All Blues regain momentum – and that question was answered through Davis, and then Hoese, 29-17. But there was still the whole fourth quarter to play, and North Shore ran in another two scores from outside center Nicole Fisch and reserve Bridget Kapinus. Hoese’s hat trick, however, gave Berkeley the margin it needed for the win. Although North Shore took the loss, the home side earned two bonus points in the standings.

“As to how the All Blues feel, we’re glad to have a win, even a scrappy one,” Reddick reflected. “We played for each other, blooded some developmental players and eked out a win. Full credit to North Shore for a fierce game. They kept fighting ’til the end, running hard, blitzing D, and contesting set piece. I don’t think anyone should underestimate them.”

On the other side of the Blue Conference, Glendale made solid strides after an opening-round loss to San Diego, and traveled to ORSU for a 46-14 win.

“We trusted our systems a bit more, kept things simple, and upped our defensive communication,” Glendale scrumhalf Jenny Lui explained. “ORSU has really strong, dynamic runners, so we worked to absorb that pressure and stay connected. On attack, we were able to finish more opportunities, which helped us close out a match against a dangerous side.”

Prop Melissa Polheber initiated the scoring minutes into the match, and flyhalf Hannah Stolba kicked the first of three conversions. ORSU flanker Rachel Johnson dotted down for a fourth try this season, and flyhalf Emma Richie’s conversion tied it all up after 12 minutes.

Ten minutes later, the Merlins kicked off a seven-try run that spanned the remainder of the match, seeing Stolba, Madison Slaught twice, Allison Hale, Charlotte Thompson, Sam Luther and Joanna Kitlinski across the try line. The game ended with a try from Jesters reserve Beckett Royce and Richie conversion. The Merlins will play its first home game on Saturday against 3-0 Berkeley, while ORSU gets the bye week.

In the Red Conference, Atlanta won its first-ever WPL game against Twin Cities, defeating the visiting Amazons 53-10 on Saturday.

“The team has been reinvigorated by an influx of newly graduated talent,” Atlanta head coach Kitt Ruiz noted. “We, as coaches, are starting to see how the growth of collegiate rugby has truly influenced the women’s game.”

One such example is recent Life University graduate Darian Lovelace, who served as Atlanta’s field captain against Twin Cities. The No. 8 took advantage of the WPL waiver last year, along with a handful of other collegians around the country, to sample the elite senior league.

“Having the opportunity to play a couple of games in the WPL while I was a player at Life definitely prepared me more for the WPL,” Lovelace said. “I definitely think that made the segue easier, having a taste of the competition, and made the transition not as scary. … That said, the past three games have been some of the hardest games I’ve ever played.”

Kaitlyn Broughton, also a spring 2018 Life University graduate, opened Saturday’s scoring five minutes into the match and ended the day with three tries. Lovelace also praised the work of Central Florida grad Cortney Kuehl, who added two tries, and WPL first-year Chidinma Chukwueke, who scored from the wing. The field captain was also impressed with Akilah Guzman, the Kennesaw State standout who made her WPL debut at scrumhalf Saturday. Jenna Grygier, Laketa Sutton and Mo Compito also scored tries, while Compito, Alice Plant and Corinne Heavner split kicking duties.

“We were trying to figure out how to play off each other. So many players have joined and we’re just working out the kinks,” Lovelace said of the team’s evolution this season. “We’re finally getting into a groove and learning to read each other and feed off each other’s energies.”

Wagner also credited Saturday’s win to the team’s focus on defense, and those efforts paid off against the always physical Amazons. Lovelace lauded prop Lanoira Duhart, scrumhalf Rachel Lentsch and inside center Maria Bowker for their stellar performances, and lock Shaena Sparrow scored both of the Amazons’ tries.

Finally, New York hosted the D.C. Furies in a match that featured huge swings in momentum. D.C. scored first through Boston College grad Jade McGrath, who is one of several summer Scion players added to this week’s roster. Fellow Sirens include Emilia Ferrara, Emily

Fulbrook, Maggie Myles, Nate Serevi, and former/current 15s Furies Lauren Rhode and Dana Meschisi.

The rest of the first half belonged to New York, which sent wing Sarah Levy into the try zone three times and added a Nikki Richardson conversion. Misha Green and Shamira Robles scored back-to-back in the second half, 27-5, before D.C. kicked off its rally. The Furies responded with tries from Lauran Glover, Fulbrook and Meschisi, and Rhode’s conversions pulled D.C. to within three, 27-24.

With 12 minutes remaining, New York regained controlled, as Kristen Siano added a penalty kick, and then Levy crossed for another two tries, converted by Siano, for the 44-24 win.

Home  Score Score Away
Chicago North Shore 29 36 Berkeley All Blues
Oregon Sports Union  14 46 Glendale Merlins 
Atlanta Harlequins 53 10 Twin Cities Amazons 
New York Rugby  44 24 D.C Furies 


WPL Opens the 2018 Season With Tightly Fought Matches

It was a home-team sweep for the opening weekend of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), and with three single-digit decisions, nearly the whole field banked at least one standings point. New York and Glendale enjoyed bye weeks and will join the competition in round two.
Both of the Red Conference games were two-point decisions, earning high marks for drama Sunday. The D.C. Furies hosted Twin Cities and came into the match with just two 15s training sessions. Fortunately, all of the players who competed at the club 7s national championship were named to the WPL season-opener roster, and that helped with some continuity concerns.
D.C. took the first lead through a Lauran Glover try and Sam Moorhead conversion before Twin Cities rallied with three-straight scores. Chasing down a 21-7 deficit, Moorhead converted both Arielle Reed’s and Glover’s tries, and then wing Gloria Cho’s score gave the home side a 26-21 lead.
Again Twin Cities surged with back-to-back tries, 31-26, and again D.C. tied it up through Katy Stewart. Moorhead added the extras and the Furies held on for the 33-31 win.
“It’s good to get the monkey off our backs,” D.C. co-coach Mike McMillon said. “It’s no secret that we haven’t been a winning team, but within the club, [this win] was not a surprise either. In 2017, we were much better in every area and in every metric we tracked, and we knew we were progressing in the right direction. Coming into this season and seeing the depth we hadn’t had in a while, we knew it would be a fun game. We were pretty confident coming into this game.”
McMillon praised the overall team effort and highlighted new player Chloe Jex, a lock from KC Jazz, for strong carries and piercing runs.
A similarly tense game evolved in Boston, as Beantown looked to build on its 2017 return to the WPL. Beantown finished 6-2 in last year’s regular season, which included two competitive victories over Atlanta. But it was the visiting Harlequins that set the standard early on, forcing Beantown to rally at home.
Atlanta scored three tries to Beantown’s two, but the boot of flyhalf Kimber Rozier was the difference on the scoreboard. The Harlequins took a 10-3 halftime lead, as wing Christina Swift and fullback Kandis Ruiz scored, and Rozier slotted a penalty. Beantown then tied it up with back-to-back tries, and Rozier’s conversions gave the home side the 17-10 edge. Swift then scored again, 17-15, and Atlanta was one pass away from taking the lead, but a knock-on in the try zone ended the match.
Both teams showcased several recent, high-profile collegiate graduates making the leap to the WPL. Beantown’s back row consisted of Amanda Schweitzer (UC Santa Barbara), Claire Collins (Harvard) and Kathryn Treder (Stanford), while the Harlequins saw DI Elite products Kaitlyn Broughton (Life), Darian Lovelace (Life) and Corinne Heavner (Penn State) travel to New England.
“Last fall, the WPL season taught us that adaptability, fitness and a cohesive culture are going to be our keys to success,” Beantown co-captain Claire Stingley reflected on the team’s return to the WPL. “It’s an intense 10 weeks and we’ve been seeing a lot of players really thinking about how to be prepared, mentally and physically, to perform over the season. In preparing for this year and thinking beyond, most of our thoughts are directed towards creating depth and making sure we’re building a sustainable culture not just for the next few months, but through the rest of the year and into years to come.”
In round two, Beantown travels to Twin Cities, and New York heads to Atlanta.
Both of the Blue Conference games occurred on Saturday, and San Diego made the trip to Treasure Island to face Berkeley. The teams split league games last year, with the home team prevailing, and that trend continued. After 30 minutes, All Blues wing Maggie Simpson scored the first of two tries for a 5-0 lead into the break.
San Diego lock Julia Buescher then scored the first of two tries early in the second half, 5-5, before a Surfers yellow card tipped the balance. During that 10-minute sin bin, Berkeley sent Simpson and fullback Emma Harbage into the try zone, with flyhalf Samantha Miller converting, 17-5. Buescher scored with 10 minutes left in regulation but the All Blues held on for the 17-12 win.
“We have some young players who have come to us from some outstanding programs,” second-year Berkeley coach Theo Bennett pointed toward influential newcomers. “Tonya Wessman [UC Davis / Sacramento] had an outstanding game in her first WPL match. And Tyra Norlander [SFGG] was very influential with her hitting the gain line on attack. … [A]lthough we have given these young ladies opportunities, they have had very solid development from their local coaches prior to coming to the All Blues, and I would like to acknowledge those outstanding people.”
Berkeley will extend its home stand this weekend against ORSU, which also celebrated a win in round one. Visiting Chicago North Shore kept it close in the first half, as Anna Cohen-Price and Jessica Ventrillo picked up five points apiece, but the Jesters really picked up momentum in the second quarter and didn’t let up.
ORSU took a 24-10 lead into the break and then added another four tries in the second half. Flanker Rachel Johnson and prop Adrienne Acosta scored two tries apiece, while center San Juanita Fetuuaho, hooker Paris Hart, No. 8 Te Awhina Ho Chee and lock Avery Johnson also dotted down. Flyhalf Emma Richie kicked two conversions for the 44-10 win.
In addition to the Berkeley vs. ORSU game in round two, watch for San Diego to host Glendale this Saturday.


Berkeley All Blues 17 12 San Diego Surfers
Oregon Sports Union Rugby 44 10 Chicago North Shore
D.C. Furies  33 31 Twin Cities Amazons 
Beantown Rugby 17 15 Atlanta Harlequins