Women’s DI club teams in competitive region 1 are getting used to that one weekend per season when playing two league games is required. ORSU had its first back-to-back game weekend, something the team hadn’t dealt with during the two previous years it spent in the Women’s Premier League. With only 18 players traveling against two teams with which the squad wasn’t very familiar, ORSU was able to return home with two wins against Nor Cal Triple Threat and San Francisco.
“The first game was a bit tougher than we expected,” ORSU coach Jarred Power said of the 22-0 win. “Until the last 20 minutes, we were only ahead 5-0. We couldn’t get our offense going and played a lot of defense. We finally started to click after our second try, which built our confidence up.”
ORSU had some issues adjusting to the referee’s management of the breakdown, in particular his interpretation of when the ball was out. That meant a lot of penalties and an inability to sustain any go-forward ball.
“We had scoring opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on,” Power said. “We just couldn’t catch a break, had some knock-ons, and Nor Cal played a good game.”
But standout performances from Beckett Royce, who’s moved from flanker to flyhalf, and center San Juanita Moreno kept the team in check.
Heading into today’s match, ORSU didn’t know what to expect, especially considering how beat up the squad was. With only 18 people on the road, the absence of a couple of key players like former Beantown player Sharon Blaney, and the fact that San Fran had played Nor Cal to a 29-22 loss earlier in the season, today’s game could’ve gone either way.
But it only went one way, ORSU’s, as the team racked up 36 points by half and ended with 60-plus in the shutout.
“They had some good athletes, but were just a little disorganized,” Power reflected on today’s game. “We put a lot of pressure on them, too. That was part of our game plan.”
Royce is slowly to starting to settle into her new back position, and the former loose forward caused a lot of trouble for the opposition on defense. She’s showing her range around the pitch and scored four tries today. A new generation of flanker is working toward filling Royce’s spot, and rookie Molly Luft has been impressing Power so far. She only has a spring season to her credit, but she’s a gifted, natural athlete with a lot of potential.
Even though ORSU traveled light this weekend, it was dense with talent. The team has been lucky to make some advantageous acquisitions this year. In addition to Blaney, fellow Rugby World Cup hooker Lisa Butts has booted up with ORSU. And another flanker cum backline player, Nicole Garcea, has relocated to the region and brought her So Cal All Star experience with her.
With its toughest weekend gone, and its toughest game over (24-10 win over Seattle), ORSU can start looking ahead to the playoffs. The team is still taking each game as it comes, but taking the DI national championship is certainly on the team’s radar.
“It was tough for the two years we were in the WPL,” Power said. “We had one win. It’s tough to keep going, spending all that money and traveling and not coming away with a lot. We definitely tried our best but couldn’t pull it off.”
ORSU leads the CR1 and is now the only the undefeated team in the region. The Mudhens and Belmont Shore should provide ORSU with some nice competition to round out league season, but comparing scores, ORSU should come out on top.