The Amazons had a lot to prove in their rematch against the Surfers yesterday. Twin Cities suffered its first Women’s Premier League loss the previous weekend in San Diego, and eight days later, they hosted the then-undefeated and conference leaders for what they hoped would be a redemptive win.
And it was. The Amazons controlled the game and won 35-0. Aside from home-field advantage, defense was the key to this dramatically different game.
“They actually played they were supposed to say,” Amazons coach Roger Bruggemeyer said of the difference between the two matches. “Our first two games of the season weren’t as hard as they were in the past. San Diego threw it us hard and we weren’t used to defending. The girls really got down on themselves after the loss, but we focused on defense this past week and that allowed us to step up our defense and turn over their ball.”
In the first match, San Diego used its big forwards to control the breakdown and tackle area. The defense couldn’t organize in time for second-phase ball, and that’s when the Surfers’ speedy backs could monopolize and under-staffed defense in the open field. Yesterday, the forwards stepped up their game, were composed in the breakdown, slowed down San Diego’s ball, and put the Surfers’ backs under pressure.
The scoring occurred pretty steadily, with openside flanker Amanda Kingzett lighting up the scoreboard with the first try. By half, the team was up 20-0 and eventually saw scores come from Stacey Baker, Morgan Johnson, Sarah Baaker, Ashley Mulford and Kaelene Lundstrum all dotted down. Desiree Markovich also slotted a penalty and handled the extras.
“I’m very proud of the team,” Bruggemeyer said. “I wasn’t surprised that they turned it around [from last weekend]; I was more surprised at how we panicked in San Diego. Last week, we weren’t psychologically ready for the game. We got out of our patterns, people started playing individually, but I knew if we could stay organized on defense this weekend that we would be OK.”
Kingzett and Stacy Baker were at the heart of the defensive drive, and the pack played well as a whole, with the scrums and lineouts working out well on the day.
“We’re happy with the result,” Bruggemeyer continued. “All of the stuff we did at practice worked in the game. They’re happy that the work is worth it, and the coaches because the players listen to us more. We’re confident, but we’re not over-confident right now.”
If the Amazons can repeat their earlier season wins against New York and the Valkyries, then they’ll be in good shape for the top two in the conference. It’ll all come down to bonus points in the Surfers win their final two games against New York and Minnesota as well.