Merlins Defeat Berkeley, Secure WPL Playoff Spot

by | Oct 15, 2018 | Elite Women

With One Regular Season Match Remaining, Glendale Will Compete In Post-Season

The Merlins Women’s Premier League squad traveled to California over the weekend, taking on the Berkeley All Blues in a match that ultimately secured Glendale a spot in the WPL playoffs. The first half of the contest was a defensive stalemate, Glendale’s wing, Adekemi Adewunmi finally finding the try zone 36 minutes in. The conversion attempt successful, and the Merlins entered the break ahead of the All Blues, 7-0. Asked about the first half performance, Head Coach Luke Gross praised the Merlins resilience: “We made some mental mistakes, but we had a tremendous game defensively. Berkeley brought a lot of dangerous offensive movement but our girls were tremendous,” he said. “Realignment, getting back on their feet, tackling. We were vicious on defense.”

Merlins defeat Berkeley

Match recap brought to you by:

Glendale Chamber
Berkeley answered ten minutes into the second half, dotting down and converting to bring the score even at 7 apiece. Rallying momentum, the California side found the try zone again just four minutes later, again converting and pulling ahead of the Merlins, 14-7. At 67 minutes veteran Merlins fly-half Hannah Stolba dotted down a try, the converted kick after bringing things all even once again. Stolba, who was later named player of the match, reflects on the game: “The second half was good for us because we were on attack,” she said. “It was good to be on the front foot, and to open things up a bit more in terms of scoring.”

The final minutes of the match belonged to Glendale. Wing Nichole Wanamaker found the try zone, the conversion pushing the Merlins to a 21-14 lead that the team wouldn’t surrender. In the final moments of the match Stolba added to that advantage with a drop goal, and the Colorado side secured a playoff berth with the 24-14 victory. Although the Merlins fought through diversity in the first half offensively, Gross was pleased with the performance overall: “Everything didn’t go our way on Saturday, but a team that can win when things don’t go their way is a team that’s got its stuff together. We got the win.”

Gross says that he always hesitates to name a player of the match, as victory in rugby is inherently a team effort. Although Glendale’s victory on Saturday was certainly dependent upon the efforts of everyone on the pitch, even Gross couldn’t deny Stolba’s performance: “She had a hell of a game, both on attack and defense. She played really well. That said, so many of the girls played so well. They all did their job.” The veteran fly-half was modest about the recognition, and, like her head coach, acknowledged the play of the entire squad: “We never gave up, we put in a lot of work, and we did it as a team. That felt really good.”

The Merlins final match of the regular season is October 20, when the team will take on Chicago North Shore on Infinity Park’s turf field. The contest kicks off at 7:30pm Mountain Time. The match is completely free of charge and open to the public. The Women’s Premier League National Playoffs will take place in Atlanta, Georgia this year, from October 26-28. Competing will be the two best-ranked teams from each WPL conference (Blue and Red), vying for top honors in women’s American rugby. Matches will be live-streamed on Follow all of the Glendale teams on Facebook and Twitter for full-time scores on all games and additional information. The full season schedule can be found at

Starting 15

  1. Chobot, Sarah – C
  2. Beard, Jeanna
  3. Luther, Samantha
  4. Thompson, Charlotte
  5. McElroy, Joanna
  6. Chatelier, Amandine
  7. Ehrecke, Rachel
  8. Kitlinski, Joanna
  9. Lui, Jennifer – VC
  10. Stolba, Hannah
  11. Adewunmi, Adekemi
  12. Cantorna, Gabriella
  13. Tordonato, Juliann
  14. Wanamaker, Nichole
  15. Slaught, Madison


  1. Lundquist, Lexie
  2. Pacher, Shannon
  3. Prusinski, Andrea
  4. Peterson, Kristine
  5. Lam, Leann
  6. Suda, Christen
  7. Ordway, Danielle
  8. O’Brien, Kelsie