The pace picks up in the women's club sphere this weekend. We take a look at some of the more interesting matches occurring around the country, and follow up with a college and high school preview:
Women’s Premier League
Both conferences worked out identically: Last weekend’s winners play each other in week two, while the losers face off in attempts for their first wins. The match-up to watch is Twin Cities vs. Berkeley. For the first time in a long time, the Amazons have all of their star players back and healthy, and that helped Twin Cities slaughter San Diego last Sunday. Berkeley won, too, topping WPL newcomer Atlanta 29-10, but had to work much harder for the win, especially with notables like Irene Gardner, Jossy Tseng and Nathalie Marchino absent. The All Blues should have those players back this weekend, and playing at home will help their odds against an intimidating Twin Cities. We think the Amazons are going to pull off the road win.
On Saturday, the D.C. Furies look to harness the energy of last Sunday’s win over New York – their first in WPL history – but will have their work cut out for them against Glendale, which beat a very good Beantown in Boston. D.C. has added some punch to their backline, claiming Amanda Street, Lauren Rhode and Katie O’Malley as their own. The Raptors are Eagle-heavy, especially in the forwards, who have Laura Miller to the lineup. Erin Overcash is now in Glendale's backfield, and she's one of the most exciting newcomers playing the game right now.
We’re eager to see Atlanta on the field more. The Harlequins played respectfully against reigning champs Berkeley and might see a more competitive match in San Diego this weekend. That said, never underestimate the power of humility and expect the Surfers to rally for a strong performance this weekend.
New York and Beantown will play out their age-old rivalry in Boston this Sunday. The host looked stronger in their home opener against Glendale, so we’re siding with Beantown in this match. New York needs to get a couple of key players back – namely Rebecca Brafman – and season their young scrumhalf.
The Midwest is no longer linked to the West, so no more travel to Texas or Colorado. Week one kicks off with an always-testy Chicago vs. Chicago North Shore rivalry. Saw a healthy amount of North Shore players booting up for the Chicago Lions over the summer, including Kate Daley, Lauren Trout, Christiane Pheil and Brittany Biedenbender – all of whom should help North Shore to a victory.
We're also eager to see what the Minnesota Valkyries look like. They’ve had a couple of tough years, dropping out of the WPL and then going winless in their first DI season. A couple of key additions could buoy spirits, with shifty scrumhalf Michelle Wong and former USA 7s resident Christy Ringgenberg CIPPed and rostered.
The Northeast field looks pretty even, but the overall talent level has slipped slightly. NOVA and Atlanta used to dominate this competition, but the former is now in the NCR4 and the latter in the WPL. Too early to tell who’s going to rise to the top, but Albany’s huge win over Morris could be put into perspective after tomorrow’s game against the Village Lions. Providence plays Monmouth, and Boston plays Morris.
Philadelphia and NOVA banked two huge wins last weekend, and now they play each other to determine who’s the team-to-beat in NCR4. The answer is likely NOVA, but Philly’s forwards have always challenged the Virginia side. NOVA’s a little more creative in the backs and got a three-try performance out of fullback Amanda Kingsbury last weekend.
We’ve pieced all of the Midwest leagues into one schedule (here), and last weekend saw all four regions in action. Reigning champ Pittsburgh opened with a 100-point shutout, and Twin Cities was impressive during its 69-0 defeat of the Minneapolis Menagerie. The western portion of the Midwest is quiet this weekend, with only Milwaukee Scylla and St. Cloud looking for their first win. The Angels take on Cleveland, which earned a bonus point in its 17-15 loss to Buffalo last weekend.
All of the opening-weekend winners in the Northeast won by big margins, with the closest game was Burlington’s 35-point win over Seacoast. We’re expecting similar scores this weekend as Beantown plays Worcester and Portland takes on Brooklyn. Seacoast and Hartford struggled with their offense last weekend so they might find better luck against each other Saturday.
The Mid-Atlantic is in full swing, but the toughest team – Severn River, which beat Doylestown 104-0 last weekend – is in a bye week. The game we’re most interested in is Norfolk vs. D.C. Furies B. The Storm measure up well to Severn River, and the Furies’ great depth and serious 7s program could translate into a solid DII team.
The Pacific Northwest opens their season this weekend, and Portland is the team to watch. The Pigs take on Budd Bay, and we’re picking the Oregon team to finish atop the standings come season’s end.