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Glendale, CO – The Glendale Raptors Women swept the Capital City Ruggerfest this past weekend, going undefeated and winning the championship match in the Washington, DC tournament. Glendale entered the top tier of competition along with Beantown, Chicago North Shore, USA Rugby South All Stars, Pittsburgh and tournament hosts the Washington DC Furies.
On April 30th, the Glendale Raptors traveled to Washington DC to participate in Capital City Ruggerfest, hosted by the Washington DC Furies. The Raptors left DC undefeated, taking the championship match against hosts DC on Sunday with a 39-0 shut-out.
In the first match against a young Beantown side, the Raptors dominated immediately, as a quick ball movement from the first kick-off reception saw fast and powerful wing Andrea Prusinski to the tryzone. Beantown's follow up kick-off dribbled into touch, and Glendale attacked quickly again off the ensuing lineout, when Taryn Brennan took a quick pop pass, split the defense, and went 40 meters for the try. As the game progressed the Raptor onslaught continued, and the developing Beantown side was unable to compete. The final score was Glendale 43, Beantown 0.
Scoring were Andrea Prusinski – 5; Taryn Brennan - 5 (1 try); Hannah Birge - 5 (1 try); Sara Edwards - 5 (1 try), 8 (4 conv.); Nina Safane - 10 (2 tries); and Maia Johnson - 5 (1 try).
Next Glendale took on the Washington DC Furies, who brought a different strategy to the pitch than Beantown, repeatedly switching the ball back inside to pull in the defense and look for gaps at the hinge. But the Raptors hard work at developing a defensive pattern to neutralize this type of an attack paid off. The Furies’ efforts pushed the Raptors, but their defense held.
After several minutes of back and forth, Glendale was awarded a scrum deep in Furies territory. The ball was moved wide to Bethany Zick-Wilson, who popped up post tackle to Bethany Humphrey, who scampered into the try zone between two covering defenders. Later into the first half, the Furies looked to kick. Wing Liz Mick quickly moved the ball from left to right, and fullback Hannah Birge reversed the direction of attack by quickly moving to lock Jill Reilly, who was brilliantly positioned. Reilly hit outside center Bethany Zick-Wilson, who attacked the original space, fending off two defenders, to trot beneath the posts. Glendale's third try of the match occurred when a series of phases resulted in a tackle contest close to the sidelines and in front of DC's try line. Sara Edwards picked up the ball and found a small hole on the blind side of the breakdown. Glendale's final try against DC occurred at the end of the match, when center Zick-Wilson changed her angle to intercept a DC pass just in front of the try zone, touching down for her second try of the match. The final score was Glendale 29, DC Furies 0.
Scoring were Bethany Humphrey - 5 (1 try); Bethany Zick-Wilson - 10 (2 tries); and Sara Edwards - 5 (try), 3 (pk), 6 (3 conv.).
The Raptor’s win/loss record and points after pool play put them into day two as the #1 seed. Facing off against CR2 rivals Chicago North Shore provided the Raptors with a new challenge. North Shore's large, powerful forwards continually challenged the Raptors fringe defense, forcing multiple tackler involvement. Scrums were dominated by North Shore, and the mid-westerners driving lineout proved a huge challenge to the Raptors forwards. Ultimately the Raptor’s speed, fitness and agility prevailed. Wing Andrea Prusinksi struck first, slicing through the North Shore defense and fighting through a huge tackle to hang onto the ball for the try. North Shore followed up immediately with a big drive off of a lineout, but they failed to convert. Glendale's Edwards slotted a penalty kick in the first half to extend their lead 10-5, but the team was unable to expand that lead until midway into the second half, when Zick-Wilson and Prusinski connected through a North Shore tackle and Pruskinski touched down. Safane and Edwards added to the try count later in the match to put victory out of reach for North Shore, and to earn a berth in the finals. The final score was Glendale 29, Chicago North Shore 5.
Scoring were Andrea Prusinski - 10 (2 trys); Nina Safane – 5; and Sara Edwards - 5 (1 try), 3 (1pk), 6 (3 conversions).
The final match between Glendale and the DC Furies featured fast breaks, a multitude of hotly contested battles for possession, ferocious defense and exciting positional matchups. DC took control of the match immediately, pressuring Glendale's try zone and looking to strike with Eagle Ida Bernstein, but powerful Andrea Prusinksi, matched up against Bernstein, did well to contain the Syracuse track star and tie up the ball.
"We knew that if we were going to be successful we had to contain Ida, and Andrea was the right woman for the job," said Raptor Coach Lisa Rosen.
The first try came when Glendale stretched DC's defense to cross one side of the field and quickly reverse directions with Jessica Lucia and Hannah Birge setting up Sara Edwards at fullback to burst through the Furies defense and dive into the tryzone. The Furies turned to a kicking game to pin the Raptors in their end, but savvy counter-attacking by the Glendale forwards saw Nina Safane explode through a small gap on the blind side. The Raptors quick forwards raced down the sidelines, with speedy Taryn Brennan drawing the cover defense to the sidelines, opening up space for Bethany Zick-Wilson, whose angle change took her straight through the defense and under the posts for the Raptors second try of the game.
After dogged goal line defense, Glendale was able to force a turnover and the mobile forwards jetted down the sideline, repeatedly offloading to keep everyone in motion. The final offload put the ball in the hands of Bethany Zick-Wilson, who again changed her angle to beat the covering fullback and score beneath the posts. An additional penalty kick by Sara Edwards sent Glendale into the half up 17-0 over the hosts.
Re-energized after the half, the Raptors returned to the pitch and continued to battle for every position. When wing Hannah Birge was corner-flagged just shy of the goal-line, the Raptors again stretched the defense, letting Zick-Wilson connect with Prusinski, who dotted down for her third try of the game. Moments later, Zick-Wilson slipped through the DC defense, and touched down for her second try of the match.
As the ensuing Furies kicked off, a spear tackle to Katie Janus brought the game to a pause. With a Furies player in the sin bin, Glendale quickly capitalized. Janus snagged a loose ball and dished to flanker Heidi Bauer, who attacked with Prusinksi to her right. Bauer carefully cut off the defender and passed to Prusinksi, who took the space in front of her, and with a last minute angle change, dodged two defenders to score her third try of the match, ending the game with the 2011 Ruggerfest Championship. The final score was Glendale 39, Furies 0.
Scoring were Sara Edwards - 5 (1 try), 3 (1 PK), 6 (3 conv.); Bethany Zick Wilson – 10; and Andrea Prusinski – 15.
"I was thrilled with the team’s performance throughout the tournament,” said Rosen after the final match. “We've been working very hard on creativity in both offense and defense, but we've still got a lot to work on. We missed several scoring opportunities through the course of the tournament, and our passing has to become more precise, but this was a great way to see where we've come over the course of the season. The Raptors were able to mix up their roster, with athletes who played on both our D1 and D2 side.”
“There were many players at home who couldn't make the trip, so this opportunity to develop our depth was great,” Rosen continued. “Over the course of the four-game tournament, three different players stepped in at fullback, four at scrumhalf, three at 8, and five at the wing position. Bauer and Janus put serious time in at the front row for the first time, and Janus was particularly impressive.”
"We intended to bring 24 players, but injuries start to take their toll as the season winds down,” concluded Rosen. “Having players with the versatility to step in wherever needed was key to our success in DC. Great thanks to the Furies for putting on the event and giving us the tough competition we've been looking for.”
Bethany Zick-Wilson, the Raptors captain, and scorer of four of the Raptors tries had this to say about the experience.
"Playing in fast-paced, high competition tournaments like this is valuable to our development as a team and is really the type of environment in which we thrive,” said Bethany Zick-Wilson, Raptor captain. “I was proud to see the entire Raptors squad step up and play cohesively as a team. In the past, we have shown plenty of athleticism, but now we’re starting to supplement that athleticism with team chemistry and creativity.”
“We've been working on a lot of new tactical skills over last two seasons since Coach Lisa Rosen’s arrival,” she continued. “Specifically, Rosen has taught us how make the most of our athleticism to gain possession at the tackle contest through scissoring, clamp-tackling, and quick counter rucking. This weekend, we had an opportunity to hone in on and further develop those skills."
Next the Raptors travel to Albuquerque, NM, to play the Atomic Sisters in a friendly to close out the spring developmental season.