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Rematch: WPL Revisits Week 1 Showdowns

  • 20 Sep 2018

WPL week 5 lineup

The second half of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) begins this weekend, and thus the pressure intensifies as teams vie for those four coveted semifinal spots. Week 5 is a replication of Week 1 in terms of match-ups, and those season-openers produced three single-digit decisions.

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A lot has changed in a month, as squads grow comfortable under new coaches and with new players, and that will eliminate some of that parity often felt in the opening rounds. The second-biggest factor is of course the traveling roster, which can expose a team’s depth as players must ration their travel budget.

In the Red Conference, Beantown (3-0-1) won its home-opener 17-15 over Atlanta (2-2), and coach Mere Baker called the victory “lucky.” Beantown tied Twin Cities in Minnesota and then held on for a thrilling 33-30 win in New York. Will players like Kimber Rozier and Stacey Bridges be present in Atlanta, or will they be in Hanover, N.H.? The Eagles are assistant coaches to Harvard and Dartmouth, respectively, and the two NIRA schools tee off Saturday (watch live), also Big Green’s 40th anniversary. Yes, a team is more than one or two players, but these two are very influential.

The expectation is that Atlanta will be fired up for the rematch, which occurs during the Harlequins alumni weekend. The young players who have earned starting positions bring loads of energy and optimism, and that could fuel an important victory this weekend.

D.C. banked a 33-31 win over Twin Cities in round one and now look for win two on the road. The Furies (1-3) fielded fewer than 23 players during last week’s home game, and the Amazons (1-2-1) have used its 39-10 win over New York to fuel the last two weeks of preparation. Twin Cities sits in fourth place in the standings but is only three points behind Atlanta and New York.

There’s plenty of anticipation in the Blue Conference as well. San Diego (3-1) hosts Berkeley (3-1) and is looking for some redemption on that 17-12 Week 1 loss. Last weekend, the Surfers were dissatisfied with their 29-26 win against ORSU and will continue to chase that 80-minute performance.

“In the first half [against ORSU], we had more possession and were able to maintain a high pace. We made some smart decisions, and capitalized on a few overloads,” San Diego captain Liz Trujillo reflected on 19 unanswered points after 30 minutes. “In the second half of the game, ORSU was able to maintain possession and play the tough, hard-hitting game they are known for. One of our flankers got yellow-carded during the second half, which put us in a tough spot with only 14 on the field.”

San Diego (which has loaned inside center Megan Foster to the USA Falcons in Hokkaido, Japan) will focus on tackle completion and maintaining composure while exerting continued pressure – the foci of the team’s second-half performance against ORSU.

As for Berkeley, the team has had some time to regroup after a 25-point loss to Glendale in Colorado. It was the team’s first setback, but fortunately it occurred just before bye week. Merlins captain Sarah Chobot singled out the center pairing of Evan Hoese and Cathy Cai as tough to handle, so watch for this duo to push the All Blues forward.

ORSU (1-3) and Chicago North Shore (0-4) round out the weekend. The Jesters beat North Shore 44-10 in Week 1, and now the teams reunite in Chicago. Although North Shore is coming off a rough 45-0 loss to Glendale, the team has kept it close with Berkeley and San Diego when playing at home. Again, the question is what personnel will be making the trip from Portland to the Midwest, and if North Shore can harness that home-field energy for a season’s first win.

Glendale (3-1) and New York (2-2) get the bye week, but the Merlins’ WPL and DI teams are hosting Lindenwood University.

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