Week two of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) has wrapped and now all 10 teams have taken the field. Berkeley is the first team to two wins, and the competition saw its first tie of the season.
Beantown (1-0-1) traveled to Twin Cities (0-1-1) with several positional and personnel changes to week one’s squad.
“We had to work with new combinations [Sunday], and everyone who was there stepped up and put in a lot of hard work,” Beantown co-captain Claire Stingley indicated. “A tie wasn’t the result we were looking for, especially in the last couple minutes, but we’ve got two weeks now to work hard, put things together, and come out firing for our next weekend at home. This is a fairly young, new team, and we’re excited about the possibilities coming from a group with this much drive and adaptability.”
The Amazons were looking for a first win of the season, having dropped a two-point contest to D.C. the weekend prior. The home side got up quickly, as wing Ariana Koras scored a try after five minutes, Megan Wolff converted and then added a penalty: 10-0 after 10 minutes, a scoreline that held until halftime.
Beantown flyhalf Tatjana Toeldte opened up the second stanza with three points and then converted flanker Morgan Roberts’ try approximately. The 10-all draw snapped in the fourth quarter, when fullback Tina Aprahamian dotted down a try, and that 15-10 scoreline was nearly etched in the records. Instead, reserve Shaena Sparrow, a powerhouse addition from Detroit, scored in the 80th minute for the 15-15 final.
“Physically, I think we matched up well. [Beantown] do a good job of playing with width and getting their forwards and hard runners out in space during open play,” Twin Cities leader Sylvia Braaten compared teams. “Both sides had missed opportunities that could have drastically changed the outcome of the game, but that’s the beauty of rugby. Moving forward we are going to focus on maintaining our intensity throughout the entire game and execution on finishing; coming away with points on our breaks.”
On the other side of the Red Conference, New York traveled to Atlanta and needed a big second-half push for the 50-38 win.
“We came out slow and flat,” New York co-captain Jenn Salomon explained. “Atlanta was ready to play and they put us on our heels, moving the ball well and made line breaks, which contributed to pressure they created both offensively and defensively. They controlled the first half.”
Both teams scored 19 points in the first half. Wing Monique Compito scored first, and then Central Florida graduate Cortney Kuehl scored two tries from outside center. Penn State graduate Corinne Heavner kicked the extras. Alycia Washington put New York on the board, and Jess Davis and Kristen Siano followed with tries. Siano kicked the conversions and ended the day with 25 points.
“The second half was huge for us. Misha Green scored in the first minute, which gave us the momentum we needed to push through the 40 minutes,” Salomon commended the flanker, who scored a second try minutes later. “From there we started playing our game and sticking to the pattern: fast ball, great go-forward with composure. Obviously there were mistakes made and lack of discipline in certain areas that caused us unnecessary penalties. We could have rung the bell in the face of adversity, however, we are proud of the way we held our heads up and battled to the end.”
New York pushed out to a 36-19 lead after a Siano penalty, but then Atlanta surged and sent Gracie Martinez, Compito and Christina Swift in for tries. Heavner’s conversions put the Harlequins in front 38-36. During the final 10 minutes, however, Sarah Levy and Siano scored, and the flyhalf added the extras for the 50-38 win.
Berkeley and ORSU won their respective season-openers before facing each other in the Bay Area on Saturday. Berkeley scored early, sending flanker Tonya Wessman in for a try and following approximately 10 minutes later with an Evan Hoese score. But then a yellow card gave the Jesters a nice boost and flanker Rachel Johnson was in the try zone for five. Flyhalf Emma Richie kicked the conversion for a 10-7 halftime.
It was all All Blues in the second half as another five players – wing Ardia Kelker, No. 8 Delaney Chapman, outside center Cathy Cai and second-half subs Allison Byrne and Serena Liu – all scored tries. Flyhalf Sam Miller kicked three conversions for the 41-7 win. Berkeley will now embark on a four-game road trip, while ORSU will complete the first full round within the Blue Conference at home.
Last year’s runner-up, Glendale, traveled to San Diego for its season-opener, bringing a mix of well knowns – Chobot, Stolba, Beard, Hale and more – with some familiar college graduates like Davenport’s Dani Ordway and Hannah Tennant, Penn State’s Rachel Ehrecke (who played flanker) and Air Force’s Kelsie O’Brien, back for year two with Glendale.
“We have a very talented bunch but we also have some new faces from college, so the main focus is on ourselves and getting everyone on the same page,” said new Glendale head coach Luke Gross. “We want to be fit and have a good understanding of patterns on attack and defense, and then we’ll focus on other teams.”
San Diego has seen some new players – transfers like Alexa Scott from New York, Nicole Burr from Augusta and Julia Buescher from KC Jazz – and got a jump on the syncing process the previous weekend. The Surfers wasted no time and wing Lauren Brisbin scored the first of three tries in the opening minute. Inside center Megan Foster added the first of her three conversions as well. San Diego kept pressuring and taking advantage of the space created, and was rewarded with additional first-half tries from Brisbin, flyhalf Hunter Griendling and fullback Tia Blythe. As the half wore down, Glendale got on the board with a Charlotte Thompson try, 26-5.
Brisbin kicked off the second half with five points, 31-5, before the Merlins settled into more of a rhythm. Justine Wypych came on at wing and lit up the scoreboard with back-to-back tries. Flyhalf Hannah Stolba kicked a conversion, 31-12. Kemi Adewunmi also joined the backline in the second half and scored, a try that clinched the bonus point in the standings. The match ended 31-22 in San Diego’s favor.