After a league-wide bye week, the Women’s Premier League is up and running again, and we rejoin action with some stellar matchups. Every team has two games under their belts.
Saturday is the most exciting day, as each conference’s top two teams take each other on for the first time this season. In the red conference, San Diego and Twin Cities Amazons have established themselves as the group’s leaders, and both sit atop the standings with 2-0 records and 10 points. San Diego has the edge in point differential (105 to the Zons’ 84), and their defenses combined have only allowed 25 points over four games total.
Not surprisingly, of the 12 players who have accrued 15 points or more this season, eight hail from either San Diego or Twin Cities. It should be a great matchup in the backs, with the Surfers’ newly acquired Emilie Bydwell anchoring the center attack along with Kirstin Hartos. They’re supported by try producers Casey Fields and Kristy Lear on the wings. The Zons have an equally potent backline, which sees the hard-nosed Lynelle Kugler in the centers, with fullback Ashley Mulford and flanker extraordinaire Amanda Kingzett punching up the offense.
The Surfers have home-field advantage, but Zons coach Roger Bruggemeyer ensured that everyone who needed to travel will be present in San Diego. This is definitely the game of the weekend.
In the blue conference, Berkeley have distanced themselves from the competition, and will bring the heat against Beantown in California. Beantown are in the midst of a rebuilding year, and that was seen during the team’s loss to Keystone in the opening round. But their big win over DC refueled their spirits, and they’ll present Beantown best competition thus far.
There’s no weak link on Berkeley, from a dynamic backline that includes Kelly Griffin, Nathalie Marchino and Jamie Schukle, to mobile forwards like Phoebe Boone and Katie Chou. Beantown’s line is young, but fullback Katie Dowty will challenge the defense and reinforced her scoring potential with a four-try effort last game. The forwards are Beantown’s strong point, and are happy to have the leadership of Mari Wallace grounding the pack.
On Sunday, the bottom two teams in both conferences take each other on in what are their best opportunities for wins. Between the four of them, only Keystone has logged a win this season.
In the red conference, Keystone and DC Furies play each other in another healthy rivalry. Keystone has welcomed back scrumhalf Kim Magrini and are grateful for her experience and direction of the game. Teammates will need to play up to the typically good performances from Devin Keller and Stacy Baker if they want to defeat DC. The Furies have lost some experience this year, but while they’ve been rebuilding, they’ve found some inspiring play from up-and-comers, and will rely on the skill of veterans like Beth Noto and Julie Hogan.
In the blue conference, New York and Minnesota Valkyries look for their first win of the WPL. These two teams have lost many Premier-hardened players. For New York, they’re missing wing Vanesha McGee, who was the team’s leading scorer the last two seasons and is still wrestling with her commitment level this year. Minnesota lost Christy Ringgenberg to injury, and her captainship is a difficult void to fill. Minnesota does have a very experienced forward group, with the likes of Kristin Zdancewicz and Sarah Chobot leading the charge. Since New York is playing at home, it’s very likely that Phaidra Knight will be playing, and she is a great equalizer.
Stay tuned for all the breaking action, player and coach feedback, and stats.
Saturday, October 1
Beantown v Berkeley All Blues
Twin Cities Amazons v San Diego Surfers
Sunday, October 2
Keystone v Washington Furies
Minnesota Valkyries v New York