The Glendale Raptor Women’s DI team traveled to Austin, Texas Sunday for their most significant test of the season: a challenge match against the Women’s Premier League’s Minnesota Valkyries.
The WPL is the highest level of domestic women’s rugby. The Raptors earned the right to challenge for a spot after finishing second in USA Rugby’s Women’s Division I championship. The Valkyries placed eighth in the Premier League, opening them up to a challenge and setting up the showdown in Texas.
Conditions did not favor the running Raptors, as freezing rain persisted throughout the entire match — the field quickly deteriorated into a patchwork of grass, puddles and mud. The Valkyries took early control of the match, using their superior size and strength to maintain possession and keep the attack tight. Nine minutes into the match, Minnesota scored their first and only try.
Glendale struck back five minutes later, when an offsides penalty allowed Hannah Stolba to slot a three-point penalty kick. Moments later, Stolba connected with number 8 Jillion Potter for her first of four tries of the game, as the Raptors took a 12-5 lead and never surrendered it.
Prior to the end of the half, the Raptors recovered an errant Valkyries clearing kick, which led directly to another Glendale try. The Raptors entered halftime up 17-5.
The Raptors continued to punish the Valkyries’ errors, and when the final whistle blew, the score stood at 53-5.
“This was the right way to end our season. The team was very disappointed about dropping the DI final and committed to improving our support skills and our commitment to the team game plan,” said Head Coach Lisa Rosen. “The WPL will be tough, but we believe it is where we belong.”
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