Elite Women's Rugby NewsGlendale Merlins Rugby
Battle hardened Merlins Women ready for WPL Finals
GLENDALE – With an undefeated 7-0-1 record in the regular season, the Glendale Merlins Women now head to Tucson, Ariz., where they’ll seek their first ever Women’s Premier League Championship under the Merlins moniker.
Despite the solid record, it hasn’t been all been smooth sailing for Glendale; they enter the weekend battle hardened following last weekend’s last-minute 31-27 comeback win against Oregon Sports Union (ORSU). The team hopes to apply lessons learned from that match as they face Boston-based Beantown Rugby on Friday (3:15 p.m.) to open the weekend-long competition.
Photo by Justin Purdy
“The goal here is very simple: win and make the final,” Merlins captain Sarah Chobot said. “Every week we have grown, faced a new set of challenges and answered the call, we need to put all the pieces we have gathered up in the regular season and make them fit Friday.”
While Glendale earned the top seed with 35 points in the WPL Blue Conference, Beantown is a quality team, earning the No. 2 seed out of the WPL Red Conference with a 6-2 record and 28 points in the table.
“This game with Beantown will be the most physical game we have been in this year,” Chobot continued. “In a lot of ways, we are very similar teams. The bread and butter of Beantown is the work of their forwards. They have a very impressive lineout drive, create lots of go forward with mauls in play, and the scrum is very good. They have a big hard-hitting midfield that only knows one direction and that’s forward. We as a group need to come out and establish ourselves on the physical front foot right away. This one is going to feel like a good old-fashioned bare-knuckle brawl.”
Glendale has withstood injuries and has experimented with varying lineups this season, and the Merlins’ depth will certainly be a key factor through the multiple days of intense rugby action.
“For us to get where we want to be, it’s all-hands-on-deck,” explained Chobot. “We have 23 key players. Throughout this season, everyone has had key moments, but we’ll need everyone to fill the role they are asked and do it to the best they can do.”
Should the Merlins win and advance, they’ll move on to play the winner of Friday’s match between New York Rugby and the defending champion San Diego Surfers in the final on Sunday (5:15 p.m.).
But for now, the focus is solely on Friday’s match with Beantown.
Said Chobot, “This is going to be a dandy of a game: tons of tradition, hard go forward play in the forwards and midfield, great set pieces, and a real horse race on the edges. Both teams will have moments of real highs. For us, it’s just going to come down to staying within ourselves; a whole lot of grit and will. We need to trust what has gotten us here and put the pieces together.”