WPL Week 6 Recap: Teams Learn From Week One Results

The WPL began the return leg of their fixtures this weekend, and revenge was on the mind of some teams.

After Week 6 of the Women's Premier League (WPL), new teams sit atop the Blue Conference and Red Conference standings.

Beantown won a 17-15 decision over Atlanta in Week 1, and then entered the rematch as the top two teams in the Red Conference standings. The rematch was a highly anticipated one, and it favored the Harlequins, which were celebrating their alumni weekend, to the tune of 43-12.

"It's definitely a good feeling," Atlanta head coach Kitt Ruiz said. "It was very nice to put up points and we had some great continuity. It's just awesome to see this happening."

But the game did not break open until the second quarter, when wing-turned-flanker Chi Chi Chuwueke scored the first of two first-half tries. Hooker Tayler VanHoosier-McNeill added a third, and flyhalf Corinne Heavner kicked the conversion for the 17-0 halftime lead.

"We've been working really hard on defense and were able to hold them scoreless in the first half," said Ruiz, a Beantown alumna. "At one point, we were in our end, and they were coming at us phase after phase. We were actually able to push them back, and that was a great feeling.

"In the second half, we let in a try pretty early, two minutes in, and there was a little concern - are they flat? Are they tired," Ruiz recalled. "But we dialed it back in. We let in one more try, but the defense stepped up and played to our system. And then other things we've been working on - playing in our shape and attacking with width - they looked good, too."

Fullback Kelli Smith and hooker Emily Jones accounted for Beantown's tries, and the front row also added the conversion. Wing Mo Compito, outside center Cortney Kuehl and reserves Laketa Sutton and Julia Phillips added second-half tries for Atlanta, while Heavner slotted the conversions for the 31-point win.

"Coming into this match, we said, 'Remember how you felt at the final whistle against Beantown [in Week 1]? How do you want to feel at the end of this game,'" Ruiz said of this game's prep. "This was an opportunity - not to rewrite the story but to add another chapter, and solidify that we're improving every week. Sure, there was some chat about, if we won this weekend, then we'd have the opportunity to be first in the bracket, and it's awesome that we were able to accomplish that, even if it's only for one week."

Atlanta's bonus-point win puts the Harlequins ahead of Beantown by one standings point. Twin Cities also banked a bonus-point win, defeating the visiting D.C. Furies 58-15 and leap-frogging over New York into third position. The defending champions, like Glendale, had a bye this round and will resume league play this weekend at home, against Atlanta.

In the Week 1 match-up between D.C. and Twin Cities, the Furies edged the visiting Amazons 33-31. Twin Cities was eager in the rematch, and the first half was one-way traffic. Fullback Megan Wolff led the first 40 with 14 points on a try, penalty and three conversions. Lock Shaena Sparrow, prop Lanoira Duhart, No. 8 Bailey Johnson, scrumhalf Rachel Lentsch and wing Kaelene Lundstrum all dotted down. A penalty try was awarded to captain and inside center Sylvia Braaten, and the Amazons led 46-0 at the break.

The Furies only traveled with 18 rostered players but regrouped well for the second half. In fact, D.C. outscored Twin Cities 15-12. Wing Lauran Glover, lock Katherine Hanson and flyhalf Sam Moorhead all scored, while Twin Cities' Lentsch and Braaten scored their second tries of the day. Wolff handled the extras for the team's second victory of the season.

The Blue Conference reunited San Diego and Berkeley, and the Surfers were looking to salve a 17-12 loss from Week 1. The SoCal side got the recompense it was looking for, beating the All Blues 43-5 and reclaiming the top spot in the standings over idle Glendale.

Prop Nicole Burr, flyhalf Rachel Griendling, scrumhalf Teigan MacDonald and outside center Kimdinh Tran scored in the first half, and fullback Tia Blythe - who was stellar defensively - kicked three conversions for the 26-0 halftime lead.

"We've been a first-half team all year, and nothing changed with that," San Diego captain and flanker Sam Pankey referenced the four first-half tries. "But [Saturday], we didn't let up in the second half. Everyone contributed. We had forwards slicing up the defense and backs running over people."

McDonald and No. 8 Kate Zackary scored before Berkeley got on the board, courtesy of wing Elena Clark. Zackary logged one more try before the end of the game, and with Blythe's extras, San Diego notched a solid, bonus-try win.

"We knew we had to bring our A-game going into this one, and we certainly did," Pankey asserted. "Of course, we have work-ons. We need to tighten up our set pieces, work on our continuity on defense, and focus on getting ball to hand, but these are things we have consistently improved upon all year, and we don't expect to stop improving now. We're better going into the second half of the season and hope to be the best in the country come Nationals."

Coincidentally, the only game with a competitive scoreline was the only Week 1 rematch that produced a lopsided score. When Chicago North Shore traveled to ORSU in the opening weekend, the team returned with a 44-10 loss. Since then, the Illinois squad has enjoyed several weeks at home, bonding and building, and that was all apparent on Sunday. The home side took a 10-0 lead into the break, as fullback Jessica Ventrillo and outside center Kat Stanley scored tries.

ORSU scored shortly after the break, but then Chicago North Shore rebuilt its lead with tries through flanker Brittany Simunac and reserve Lauren Eberling. Stanley added two conversions for a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Jesters then launched into a furious rally, and during the last 10 minutes of the match, touched down three tries. Flyhalf Emma Richie's crucial conversions afforded a 26-24 victory at the death. It was a devastating result for North Shore, which is still looking for its first win and will round out its regular season with three-straight away games.

North Shore did bank two bonus points in the loss, and the Jesters also banked a four-try standings point. The Portland team trails third-place Berkeley by two standings points.

Week 6 Results

HomeScoreAway
Atlanta Harlequins43-12Beantown
Twin Cities Amazons58-15D.C Furies
San Diego Surfers43-5Berkeley All Blues
Chicago North Shore24-26ORSU

For more information, visit www.wplrugby.org.