Merlins Dominate Visiting Chicago Side

by | Oct 23, 2018 | Elite Women

Glendale 85 – Chicago 12

Saturday saw the Women’s Premier League (WPL) Glendale Merlins secure an impressive win in their final regular season match. Playing on Infinity Park’s turf pitch, the Merlins put on an offensive clinic, with eleven different players finding the try zone. Dominating a winless Chicago North Shore team, the Merlins will look to carry their momentum to WPL Nationals next weekend, where the team will first face the top-seeded Red Conference team: The Twin Cities Amazons.

Merlins Dominate Visiting Chicago Side
Photo by Seth McConnell

Match recap brought to you by:

Glendale Chamber
Saturday’s match was the last of a long day of rugby in Glendale, as Infinity Park hosted the HSBC USA Women’s 7s Tournament over the weekend. The only U.S. stop in the Olympic qualifying tournament, the event ultimately saw New Zealand’s Black Ferns crowned champions, with the United States squad runners up. As the dust settled on Saturday’s international competition, the WPL Merlins took to the turf, kicking off against Chicago under the lights and in front of a large home crowd. Just two minutes in Gabby Contorna found the try zone, the conversion by Hannah Stolba good. At 7 minutes Stolba dotted down herself, again splitting the uprights for the conversion. Three minutes later rising Merlins star Nichole Wanamaker would touch down for her first five points of the half. The conversion good, Glendale jumped to an early 21-0 lead. At 17 minutes Christen Suda dotted down, and Wanamaker found the try zone for a second time at the 23-minute mark. Both conversions were successful.

North Shore, a tenacious, physical team, attempted to rally late in the first half. The visiting team was able to score tries at 27 and 36 minutes, converting one to cut into the Merlins substantial lead. Continuing to spread the offensive opportunities throughout the team, Glendale’s Joanna Kitlinski found the try zone at 39 minutes, and Stolba converted, entering the break with a perfect 6 for 6 off the boot, and extending the Merlins advantage to 42-12 at halftime. The final forty minutes of play would belong exclusively to Glendale.

Continuing the offensive onslaught that characterized Saturday’s win, the Merlins Amandine Chatelier dotted down just three minutes into the second half. The conversion attempt was successful. Full-back Madison Slaught would touch down her first of two second half tries just six minutes later, though the kick was not converted. Sixty seconds later Stolba would earn her second try of the night, but again the kick after missed the mark. At 54 minutes Merlin Kris Peterson touched down five points, the successful conversion further extending an already impressive lead. Madison Sheveland would be the next Glendale player to add to that lead, though her try at 57 minutes was not converted. Slaught got her second of the night at the 61-minute mark, the kick again no good. Flanker Rachel Ehrecke would be next to add her name to Saturday’s try-scorers, dotting down at 63 minutes. Denali Graham rounded out the evening as the eleventh different Merlin to find the try zone, scoring at 69 minutes. The final conversion of the evening was successful, kicked by Christen Suda. The Glendale side obliterated Chicago 85-12.

Merlins Head Coach Luke Gross was impressed with a team that seems to be finding its stride at just the right time this season: “We put together 80 minutes. We played our pattern, we were off the line every time, and we gave them nothing,” he said. Asked about Hannah Stolba’s stellar performance, he had nothing but compliments: “She played really well tactically. Her vision of how we should play – how we did play – was tremendous.” Gross also mentioned another standout: Madison Sheveland. “Her aggression around the field was incredible. As a defensive force, she’s a big reason for the score looking the way it did at the end of the night.”

The Women’s Premier League National Playoffs will take place in Atlanta, Georgia this year, from October 26-28. Competing for national title will be the two best-ranked teams from each WPL conference (Blue and Red), vying for top honors in women’s American rugby. Asked about the trip to Atlanta, Merlins flanker Amandine Chatelier echoes Head Coach Luke Gross, saying the team takes things one step at a time – but admitting they want to win next weekend: “We take game after game. We’re very excited to be playing in Nationals. We hope to win the gold this year,” she says with a grin, “Two times winning silver is too many. We want the gold this year.” 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. Sarah Chobot – C
  2. Jeanna Beard
  3. Melissa Finkelstein
  4. Madison Sheveland
  5. Samantha Luther
  6. Amandine Chatelier
  7. Rachel Ehrecke
  8. Joanna Kitlinski
  9. Jennifer Lui – VC
  10. Hannah Stolba
  11. Denali Graham
  12. Gabriella Cantorna
  13. Christen Suda
  14. Nichole Wanamaker
  15. Madison Slaught


  1. Shannon Pacher
  2. Lexi Lundquist
  3. Colleen Cribbs
  4. Kris Peterson
  5. Leann Lam
  6. Juliann Tordonato
  7. Justine Wypych
  8. Francesca Beller