The Pittsburgh Angels are returning to the Women’s DII Club Championships, representing the Midwest as the #3 seed overall. It’s been a great season for Pittsburgh, which has so far been highlighted by two shutouts at the Midwest championship. The Angels braved the snow-covered pitches for a 17-5 semifinal win over Minneapolis, then followed with a 28-10 victory over Wisconsin.
Saturday was the worst of the snow, and as expected, the game slowed down on either side of the ball. Sunday cleared up, but the Pittsburgh fields were badly marred, which meant more messy rugby.
Pittsburgh captain Jaime Filipek credited the team defense for enabling the wins. “Throughout the season, our defense has been consistent and solid,” Filipek said. “We only gave up two tries all weekend, and none in league play.”
In the championship match, it was Pittsburgh’s pack that cleared the path to the podium.
“The pack played the best game it has all season,” Filipek commended. “A pushover try from the Pittsburgh scrum was the highlight of the game for us. Our backs played great defense all weekend and were able to break the gainline and score multiple times even in bad weather.”
Last year, the Angels finished third in the nation after losing to eventual champion and now DI team Albany 22-0, and then beating Raleigh 11-10 in the third place match.
“Our biggest difference from last year is the addition of several new players who are all contributing to the team,” Filipek explained. “Our new players, mixed with veterans and developing two- and three-season players, have given our team more depth and allowed us to play a more dynamic style. We have a full roster of 30 people who we feel confident playing in any game. In comparison to last year, I think we only took 25 players to Nationals with us.”
Coach Tony CHappie is rounding out his second year with the team, and the squad has really responded to his leadership. The Angels also added a forwards coach this season, and Pete Morris’ understanding of the game and modes of implementation have also boosted Pittsburgh’s success.
“Pittsburgh is definitely a well balanced team,” Filipek concluded. “We play 15-women rugby as a solid unit. We look to continue working on that in the two weeks leading up to Nationals.”