With Post-Season Hopes On The Line, WPL Merlins Travel To California

by | Oct 11, 2018 | Elite Women

Glendale Team Needs Victory To Seal Playoff Berth

Part of a three-way tie for first place in the Women’s Premier League Blue Conference, the Glendale Merlins post-season is in question as the team visits Berkeley to take on the All Blues. The Merlins, All Blues, and San Diego Surfers share the top spot in the conference, each with 24 points, so this weekend’s match will determine whether or not the Glendale side makes the playoffs; a win guarantees a spot. Asked about the significance of the away game, Merlins Head Coach Luke Gross notes that the team is battling some difficulties, but still fully intend to put everything on the line: “We have some injuries, especially in the wings, but our ladies have stepped up and done a great job for us. They’re grabbing the opportunity to prove themselves.”

WPL Merlins
Photo by Seth McConnell

Match preview brought to you by:

Hampton Inn and Suites
Flanker Rachel Ehrecke had an incredible defensive performance in the Merlins win over ORSU last weekend, and is certainly a player to keep an eye on against the Blues. Glendale veteran Hannah Stolba will also be critical to ensuring victory, as the fly-half will help to set the tempo and speed of the Merlins attack. Other players to watch include up-and-comers Gabby Cantorna and Nichole Wanamaker, but Head Coach Luke Gross is cautious in singling out stars: “Rugby is the epitome of a team sport. To help players shine, everyone has to do their job.”

Veteran Glendale fly-half Hannah Stolba is as excited as anyone on the team for the chance to play against Berkeley: “The nice thing about the WPL is playing against friends and making friends on the other side of the pitch. I love that camaraderie.” She explained that though the All Blues have gained some steam in their performances over the last few weeks, the two teams are still well-matched: “We’ve been piecing things together throughout the season, and the Blues present a good challenge for us. They match up against us well in a lot of ways. We have to see what strengths we can take into it and mitigate their strengths at the same time.”

The Merlins can defeat the All Blues if the team performs to its potential. Gross knows that he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to take down the California side: “We have to control the controlables, work hard, run our attack. We are aggressive at the tackle contest. That’s how we’ll win,” he said. Gross praised the impressive offense that the Blues have mounted in recent weeks, and acknowledged that the Merlins defensive strategy would be critical to ensuring a victory this weekend: “Berkeley is on the up. The last two matches they played they put a lot of points on their opponents. Defense can win this for us.” Stolba elaborates on what a winning strategy looks like for the Merlins: “For us it will be about focusing on the pieces involved, rather than the outcome. As long as we focus on the process, we can’t worry about the outcome. We’re getting better at that and it makes us a better team.”

The match will be live streamed by the All Blues at with kick off at 2pm MT.

The WPL Merlins final game of the regular season will be October 20 at 7:00pm, when the team faces off against the Chicago North Shore side on the turf field at Infinity Park. Fans should prepare for hard-hitting rugby action as the October 20 contest 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 FloRugby.com.

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 https://glendalemerlins.com/rugby-schedule/.

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