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Southwest Selects Win Mountain West Trophy

  • 13 Dec 2021
  • 151 Views

Photo: Instagram @swrugby

The Southwest Rugby Union has added a senior women’s select side program to its offerings, and the new entity contested its first-ever 15s match on Dec. 11. The all-stars traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., to play the Rocky Mountain Selects for the Mountain West Trophy, and inaugurated its existence with a 34-27 win.

The travel squad was selected through two sets of tryouts. The first session was a two-day assembly in Tempe, where fitness testing, positional evaluations and scrimmages. And then the Southwest Selects entered a team at the High Desert Classic in Albuquerque, and the Dec. 11 roster thus emerged. Head coach Sialofi Fuatogi selected 25 players from six member teams in Arizona (Northern Arizona Univ., Old Pueblo, Phoenix, Tempe), New Mexico (Atomic Sisters) and Nevada (Las Vegas Strong).

Alex Jaros of Tempe was named captain. The Boulder, Colo., native discovered rugby as a freshman (2015) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Sophomore year, the then-flanker transferred to the Univ. Colorado Boulder and began transitioning to the back line. After graduation, Jaros took a mechanical engineering position in Phoenix, and since November 2020 has played outside center (with some inside center and flyhalf mixed in) for the Ninjas.

“Our team’s primary goal was to always support each other and constantly communicate while on the field,” Jaros explained the foci for the Dec. 11 match. “At the end of the day, we were excited to be able to play with each other and we all wanted to have fun!”

The Rocky Mountain Selects are celebrating more of a revival than new creation (stay tuned for more info). Rocky Mountain Rugby President Erik Geib and head coach Ken Stone brought the women’s team to fruition and filled the staff with quality assistant coaches in Jeanna Beard, Sarah Chobot and Daryl Jackson. Most of the players hailed from the three major Colorado teams – Colorado Gray Wolves, Boulder Babes, Denver Black Ice – but Sandy Kanuch represented the Utah Vipers. Additionally, Meghan Tualamali’i was one of two collegians on the pitch. The 21-year-old led CU Boulder with 13 tries in the CRAA DI fall season.


Photo: Instagram @swrugby

“With strong defensive pressure, we capitalized on mistakes made by Rocky Mountain,” Jaros recounted the flow of the game. “Judith Gramajo, stealing the ball and scoring [Southwest]’s first try, shifted our momentum in the first half and set us up with a good pace for the rest of the game.

“Bri McDowell played a very good game in the forwards, taking crash balls at pace and breaking the line quite a few times for solid offensive gains,” Jaros praised the No. 8 from Temple. “I had a couple good line-breaks that led to two separate tries. I also converted our team’s only penalty kick for points in the first half.”

Jaros accounted for 17 of the team’s 34 points on two tries, two conversions and the penalty. In addition to the game-opening score from Gramajo (Old Pueblo), wing Payleigh Behan (Tempe) and reserve Jasmyn Olivas (Atomic Sisters) also dotted down tries. Desire Smoot (Atomic Sisters) also kicked a conversion.

“The team vibe was all around very positive,” Jaros noted “[The game] provided an opportunity to develop unity between players that traditionally play on opposing teams. Ultimately, this team demonstrated the camaraderie of the women rugby players across the Southwest Union. It’s always great to be playing rugby despite the challenges of playing during a pandemic, so being able to play all-star rugby is just that much more special.”

The competitive game was a great way to welcome all-star rugby back to both regions. Jaros wasn’t aware of any future fixtures for the Southwest Selects; however, the captain indicated that spring 2022 options are being explored.

SOUTHWEST SELECTS

1. Marisa Danielson – Atomic Sisters

2. Gabriella Rivera – Atomic Sisters

3. Courtney O’Connor – Tempe

4. Meghan Carlos – Phoenix

5. Makenna Flynn – Phoenix

6. Sophia Karlsson – Las Vegas Strong

7. Abby Vester – Tempe

8. Briana McDowell – Phoenix

9. Melissa Orellana – Tempe

10. Lindsey Mahoney – Tempe

11. Sydney Dudley – Old Pueblo

12. Judith Gramajo – Old Pueblo

13. Alex Jaros – Tempe

14. Payleigh Behan – Phoenix

15. Danielle Borie – Tempe

16. Madisen Miller – Phoenix

17. Alyssa Robinson – Atomic Sisters

18. Tatum Hale – Old Pueblo

19. Jacqueline Castillo – Northern Arizona Univ.

20. Samantha Hammon – Atomic Sisters

21. Julie Ngo – Atomic Sisters

22. Joanna O’Neill – Atomic Sisters

23. Desire Smoot – Atomic Sisters

24. Jasmyn Olivas – Atomic Sisters

25. Mariah Sealander – Old Pueblo

Head coach: Sialofi Fuatogi

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SELECTS

Lauren Blair – Denver Black Ice

Jessie Brewer – Denver Black Ice

Colleen Carroll – Colorado Gray Wolves

Jessica Dombrowski – Colorado Gray Wolves

Elizabeth Donahoo – Colorado Gray Wolves

Julia Gatten – Denver Black Ice

Andie Hammon – Colorado Gray Wolves

Mary Johnston – Boulder Babes

Sandy Kanuch – Utah Vipers

Tanaka Kanyepi – Boulder Babes

Kirsten Kilfoyle – Colorado Gray Wolves

Gwen Leifer – Denver Black Ice

Hannah LeMoine – Boulder Babes

Madison MacDonald – Colorado Gray Wolves

Jai McKinley – Denver Black Ice

Julia Mulligan – Colorado Gray Wolves

Justine Perl – Colorado Gray Wolves

Laura Sayabouth – Colorado Gray Wolves

Malissa Tabbey – Colorado Gray Wolves

Meghan Tualamali’i – Univ Colorado Boulder

STAFF

Ken Stone – Head coach

Jeanna Beard – coach

Sarah Chobot – coach

Daryl Jackson – coach

Erik Geib – President / manager

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