Glendale Coaches Corner

Glendale Merlins Rugby

Glendale Kicks Off WPL Season, Looks to Start DI Women’s Competition

by | Aug 22, 2019 | Club News, Coaches Corner, Elite Women

Coaches Clinic

PHOTO BY JUSTIN PURDY

The Glendale Women’s Premier League season kicked off this past weekend with a very physical match against the Life West Gladiatrix at home on the Infinity Park turf fields. We knew going into this match that it would be one of our toughest of the season. Both teams are heavily stacked with capped Women’s Eagles players and both teams were eager to get started on the right foot. But, we knew that it would all come down to which team would be able to execute their game plan more effectively.

Life West did just that, coming out quick and scoring two tries in the first 11 minutes to put them up 12-0 early out. Glendale regained their composure and found the try line at around the 25th minute as the Merlins capped prop Az Nalbandian crossed over to get on the board. Eagle and Merlin flyhalf Gabby Cantorna converted to bring the home team within five.

Unfortunately, our momentum was short-lived and Life West came back to score back-to-back tries around the 30 minute mark. Glendale’s all-star center Julie Tordonato scored a late try in the first half that Cantorna converted to bring the score to 24-14 at break.

In the second half, however, it was a lot of the same. Life West really set the tone of this match and while Glendale had moments of brilliance, it just wasn’t enough to best the Gladiatrix. In the end, they beat us 43-21. This loss was definitely was a disappointing way to start the season, but we have to give the Life West side credit for really showing up ready to play at this level.

Photo by Justin Purdy

Now, looking ahead, I’d like to say that this next match against San Diego will be a walk in the park compared to last weekend. However you can’t take ANY competitor in WPL West Conference for granted, but that is especially true when you are talking about last year’s champion, the San Diego Surfers, who we will play on their home pitch on Saturday. We are still working on different combinations and also have a few more players coming into our program from various other places over the next month. However, if we want a ‘W’ this weekend, we have to execute our game plan, make some much-needed adjustments from last week and really tighten our defense before we head to Southern California.

Now, turning the focus to our Women’s DI side, which, if you remember, are coming off a top-four finish at the USA Rugby D1 Western Club Championships last spring. This feeder program to the WPL has had a lot of changes thrust upon them, even over just the last few months, but I know they will take it in stride. They have a new coach for this 2019-2020 season, Jason Scrogham, who is very eager to continue the momentum this team has built and bring them to the National stage once again.

I recently talked to Scrogham about the upcoming season and he said, “Glendale is an extremely professional rugby environment with a deep history of winning. It has been an amazing experience to work with such highly-skilled athletes and such an amazing coaching staff. I’m also excited to continue to grow and develop as a coach in the Glendale Rugby family. As a coach I want to motivate, support and drive our players to be better than they were yesterday.”

Photo by Justin Purdy

As you may know, our D1 team trains Tuesday and Thursday with our WPL team. When you are training with and going head to head with high caliber players you will ultimately get better. Iron sharpens iron and we have a lot of players that are fighting to be on the WPL roster. That tends to bring out the best in the players and creates a highly competitive environment. It’s quite a beautiful thing to behold.

Another beautiful and much-needed addition for the D1 women is their new schedule chock-full of new competition. The 2019-2020 schedule for the Women’s West Division 1 will still see the Glendale Merlins taking on their old area rivals, Utah and Black Ice, but also will add three Texas sides, the Austin Valkyries, Dallas Harlequins and Houston Athletic into the mix.

 This will give the Merlins’ D1 Women much more competition in both the fall and spring season, leading up to the playoffs and USA Rugby championships in May and we can’t wait to see what they can do with the increased game time and ample opportunity to improve.

 “It will definitely benefit us to play more matches against several different teams this season,” Scrogham added. “That way we can get our rhythm going and gel faster as a team. Our players are giving maximum effort, pushing themselves to learn from every training session and making improvements daily. When you have players in that type of environment, great things are possible. Look for the D1 Women’s Merlins to make some big noise this season.”

 Speaking of making big noise this season, we really hope to see fans lining the fields and following both our WPL and DI Merlins throughout the next several months. We’ve included an updated schedule below so you can check out both the DI women’s rugby matches as well as our finalized 2019 WPL season. Our home games will be played at the Infinity Park turf fields and admission is free! We are also streaming all of our WPL home matches, so if you find yourself wanting to watch remotely, you can http://www.ustream.tv/channel/rugbytown-usa.

All times below are listed in local (MDT) time.

 

Division          Date                Time               Home Team               Opponent

WPL                8/17/2019        3 p.m.              Glendale                      Life West         (L 43-21)        

WPL                8/24/2019        2 p.m.              San Diego Surfers            Glendale                     

WPL                9/7/2019          1 p.m.              Berkeley All Blues            Glendale         

DI                    9/7/2019          1 p.m.              Black Ice Rugby            Glendale

WPL                9/14/2019        1 p.m.              Glendale                      ORSU

WPL                9/21/2019        4 p.m.              Life West                     Glendale

D1/WPL*         9/28/2019        2 p.m.              Glendale                      Lindenwood                            

D1                   10/5/2019        TBD                 Glendale                      Houston Athletic

WPL                10/5/2019        7 p.m.              Glendale                      All Blues                          

D1                   10/19/2019      TBD                 Utah Vipers                 Glendale

WPL                10/19/2019      4 p.m.              ORSU                         Glendale                     

D1                   10/26/2019      1 p.m.              Glendale                      Dallas

WPL                10/26/2019      3 p.m.              Glendale                      Surfers

 

WPL NATIONALS     11/1/2019-11/3/2019  Glendale (Details yet to be determined!)        

 

D1                   3/28/2020        TBD                 Utah                            Glendale

D1                   4/4/2020          TBD                 Glendale                      Black Ice

D1                   4/18/2020        TBD                 Glendale                      Austin Valkyries         

 

*non-league match

Glendale Merlins vs Life West Gladiators

21 - 43
Women's Premier League
 - Infinity Park Turf Field

Glendale Merlins at San Diego Surfers

29 - 17
Women's Premier League
 - San Diego, CA

Glendale Merlins at Berkeley All Blues

19 - 17
Women's Premier League
 - Berkeley, CA

Glendale Merlins vs Oregon Sports Union

98 - 0
Women's Premier League
 - Infinity Park Turf Field

Glendale Merlins at Life West Gladiatrix

31 - 29
Women's Premier League
 - Hayward, CA

Glendale Merlins vs Berkeley All Blues

57 - 12
Women's Premier League
 - Infinity Park Turf Field

Glendale Merlins at Oregon Sports Union

41 - 12
Women's Premier League
 - Portland, OR

Glendale Merlins vs San Diego Surfers

38 - 12
Women's Premier League
 - Infinity Park Turf Field

Glendale Merlins vs Atlanta Harlequins

35 - 15
Women's Premier League
 - Infinity Park Turf Field

Glendale Merlins vs Life West Gladiators

39 - 31
Women's Premier League
 - Infinity Park Turf Field