Oct. 19, 2018 (Minneapolis) — When it comes to the Twin Cities Amazons Women’s Rugby Club, forget everything you know about destiny and fate. This team doesn’t chase dreams, they hunt goals. That’s exactly how the underdog team became champions of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) Red Conference and earned a spot in the 2018 WPL 10th anniversary semi-finals.
All eyes were on the Amazons on Sunday, who were looking to beat the defending national champs, New York Rugby Club, on their home pitch in New York. Within five minutes, Olympian Katie Johnson, 8 man, put the Twin Cities on the board with the first try of the match. Fullback Megan Wolff kicked the extras for a 7-0 lead, Amazons. The Amazons have a handful of high try scorers this season. Johnson, Rachel Lentsch, and Kaelene Lundstrum have each scored six tries since the season’s start in August.
Though before long, New York came back with the fury. Flyhalf Kirsten Siano and outside center Shamira Robles scored, the halfback added two conversions, and the score jumped to 14-7 favoring New York.
After nearly twenty minutes, Amazons prop Lanoira Duhart scored a try to narrow the gap, which left her team trailing 14-12 as they headed into the second half.
Heading into the second half down by two points, Twin Cities Captain and nationally capped Eagle Sylvia Braaten recalled, “One of our goals was to come away with points every time we entered their 22 meter.”
That was no small feat because of New York’s solid communication and powerful tackle accuracy. New York’s defense was strong, but the Amazons’ offense proved to be stronger.
Deep into the second half, flyhalf Katana Howard carried in another try for five points and Wolff’s conversion gave the Amazons a 19-14 cushion.
Johnson scored a second try, giving her team crucial points, and the Amazons were able to hold onto their 26-14 lead for the final fourteen minutes of the match. Sunday’s victory solidified the team’s top spot for the WPL Red Conference.
“New York didn’t disappoint when it came to bringing the intensity,” Braaten said. “I’m proud of the resilience we showed in coming back from a two-point deficit at half and holding them scoreless in the second.”
Still, she kept her sights set on the team’s future.
“We had several missed opportunities and we’ll be focusing on sharpening up our handling, retention, and overall execution over the next couple of weeks as we prepare for nationals,” Braaten explained.
Braaten has also announced her retirement from the Amazons and the Eagles this year. She has had a wildly successful 10-year career that included 15 total caps and 2 World Cups (2014 & 2017). Braaten also assisted to the Twin Cities Amazons National WPL Championship in 2013.
The match against New York Rugby Club was the Amazons’ last chance to guarantee they would have a shot at another WPL National Championship. Though the Amazons end their regular season on a high note, not all has been smooth sailing. The group got off to a rough start this season, losing on the road to DC Furies and Atlanta Harlequins by 2 points and 43 points, respectively.
Across the board, home pitch advantage has been a trend for the WPL. But losing to teams the Amazons have dominated in the past was a disheartening start to the 2018 season.
Nationally Capped Eagle and Twin Cities wing Kaelene Lundstrum recalled, “We were just not connecting as a team, whether it be different clientele, early in the season, or other factors. We were not working as a unit in the beginning of the season.”
Slowly but surely things got back on track for the Amazons with a miracle defeat against New York in the Twin Cities, 39 -10.
“Our goals [that Sunday] were to connect and to finish on the opportunities we create,” Braaten explained. “We did a better job of keeping our intensity high throughout the match, but still have much to improve on. We are looking forward to taking the momentum of [Sunday’s] win into the second half of the season.”
Johnson also commented, “We truly proved ourselves in the first game against New York. With that win it helped us grow more confident but also showed what we needed to work on the most.”
The Amazons took off with that momentum, but nobody around them seemed to take notice. As the season wore on, the WPL experts continued to vote against the Twin Cities for the win.
So the Amazons continued to set goals, with daily reminders from their captain to communicate and connect with one another. Because of this, the 2018 Amazons became more than a team of fifteen players: They evolved into one unit working through every minute on and off the field together.
They’re getting closer to the mountaintop.
The Amazons are not competing in the semi-finals because they’re lucky, and it wasn’t written in the stars. They are going because they are tough. They are resilient. They are confident, and they are a representation of what it takes to win the WPL Red Conference.
In victory, the Amazons took the sting out of their previous losses and look forward to the road ahead, hoping that road will lead to a championship title for the Twin Cities.
The 2018 WPL Championships will be held in Atlanta on October 26 and 28. The weekend’s matches will be live streamed on Florugby.com.
Read USA Rugby’s recap at https://www.usarugby.org/2018/10/wpl-week-9-recap-semifinal-spots-secured/?ayBJ2CkfhgI6D5Rx.99
After this weekend’s successful results, Amazons DII remains at 19 points. Amazons WPL is up to 29 points, keeping the team in first place for the Red conference.
About the Twin Cities Amazons Rugby Club
The Twin Cities Amazons Rugby Club are an adult women’s rugby club based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The Amazons field teams in two different leagues (Women’s Premier League and Division 2), play matches locally and nationally, and welcome players of all levels of experience. The Amazons are former USA Rugby Women’s Premier League National Champions (2013) and have several members who compete for the USA Rugby Women’s National Team.
For inquiries please contact Club President Katie Sjeklocha at 612-702-6651 or at email@example.com.