[Photo: Glendale attempts to stay on top with a win against Berkeley this weekend.]
The Women’s Premier League enjoyed a bye last weekend, and teams reconvene tomorrow for their third match of the season.
The Red Conference has been the most interesting pool by far, with only one decisive win occurring over two weeks of play. That game – New York v Berkeley – ended in a 25-5 win to NY, a result no one would have predicted over the reigning WPL champs.
One might be tempted to blame the upset on Berkeley’s travel roster, as the All Blues were missing key players in Lucy Croy, Vix Folayan, Phoebe Boone and the Gardner sisters, to name a few. But All Blues coach Kathy Flores tipped her hat to New York and made no excuses for her side’s underperformance.
It’ll be interesting to see if Berkeley’s second week on the road will yield similar results against Glendale as it did against New York. We think the All Blues are a little vulnerable, but the shock of the loss against New York will motivate them to win on Saturday – especially now that they’ve realized a spot in the top tier of playoffs isn’t a given in this conference.
Glendale definitely shouldn’t be counted out, though, and has made the best of their debut season in the WPL. The Raptors lead the Red Conference standings after a 29-22 victory over New York and a thrilling 21-20 win over San Diego. Mark Bullock has taken over coaching duties and is still learning about his squad, which continues to get a nice influx of young, talented athletes – like Brittany Houston and Joanna Kitlinski – pairing with standouts like Hannah Stolba and Kitt Wagner. Looks like Glendale has also picked up Pam Kosanke from Chicago North Shore as well.
San Diego probably didn’t expect to be 0-2 at this point in the season, but they’ve lost both of their matches – 20-17 to Berkeley, 21-20 to Glendale – by painfully small margins. On the one hand, the Surfers know they can beat anyone in the league; on the other hand, they probably should have done so already.
San Diego will look for their first win against New York tomorrow at home. We’re picking the Surfers to prevail, as they have one of the most dangerous backlines in the game – Emilie Bydwell, Ryan Carlyle, Val Griffeth – and New York’s short bench might hamper the team on the road.
Long story short, the Red Conference is very even and competitive – the largest point differential is 13 (New York), and the largest in the negative direction is Berkeley (-17).
Contrast those numbers with the Blue Conference, where the largest PD in the negative direction is -133 (Keystone) and the largest is 87 (Twin Cities).
One wouldn’t be surprised if the standings didn’t shift for the rest of the season, with the Twin Cities Amazons going undefeated – possibly with one loss/tie to Beantown in their rematch in late October; Beantown finishing second; DC Furies getting two wins over Keystone; and the Pennsylvania side going winless.
On Saturday, Beantown travels to Keystone, but home-town advantage shouldn’t affect the outcome of this one, since the teams are within driving distance on each other. And Beantown is incredibly deep, able to field a competitive DII side as well, while Keystone is struggling with numbers. Look for Beantown’s pack – led by Mel Denham, Mari Wallace and Liz Fierman – to set the tone, then crafty backs like Ashley Clancy and youngsters Evan Hoese and Katie O’Malley to find lanes to the try zone. This game will likely produce the biggest score of the weekend.
Beantown’s done a good job of spreading out the scoring opportunities, and Twin Cities typically does as well, but Lynelle Kugler has run in nine tries over the last two games. She leads the league’s point-scorers by a 20-point margin, and if the trend holds, the Zons will be in for another big win against the DC Furies Sunday.
The Furies raised some eyebrows when they toppled Keystone 75-12. They proved they have the ability to score – often – but when Beantown shut them down 57-0 the following week, reality set back in. It’s still a Twin Cities/Beantown affair in the Blue Conference.
Stay tuned for the results as they evolve.