WPL Merlins Fall To Lindenwood Lions In Non-League Match
Glendale’s Women’s Premier League side hosted the Lindenwood Lions at Infinity Park on Saturday in a non-league contest. Without conference standings on the line, the Merlins were able to experiment with players from the team’s deep bench, but ultimately lost to a strong Lindenwood squad. Head Coach Luke Gross was disappointed not to secure the momentum of an additional win, but noted that the experience was positive: “At the end of the day you always want to win, but that wasn’t our priority in this game. We got to play people who needed in-game experience, and that we needed to see on the pitch. That’s what this game was about. We got to put eyes on some players that demonstrated ability that we can employ later in the season. That’s always a positive takeaway.”
Photo by Kirsten Kreiling
The Merlins came out swinging in Saturday’s game, scoring early. Lindenwood responded in kind, however, and the first half was a fast-paced shootout. Glendale struggled with conversion attempts, and as the opening forty minutes of play wound to a close, the Lions began to run away with the match, entering the break with a narrow 21-17 lead over the Merlins. Lindenwood would prove too much for Glendale in the second half, putting more points on the scoreboard while dominating the defensive battle. Head Coach Luke Gross recognized the competition was fierce, but reiterated that watching these young athletes play was an important glimpse at rugby’s future: “This was a huge recruitment opportunity for us. They’re an incredibly solid team with some exceptionally talented athletes. Six of Lindenwood’s players are graduating this year and we’ll be in touch with every one of them.”
Lindenwood kept the Merlins on the run in the second half, dotting down while preventing the Glendale side from putting up any points after the halftime break. The Lions took the win at the final whistle, 29-17. An exhibition match, Saturday’s outcome won’t impact the Merlins’ chances in the Women’s Premier League, but that doesn’t mean that the lessons learned don’t have application moving forward: “We’ve got to focus on the tackle contest in attack and defense,” said Head Coach Luke Gross. “That’s where we got beat on Saturday. Lindenwood stopped our attack and did a really good job of slowing our ball down. Our focus is on winning every game. We learn our lessons wherever we can.”
The Merlins next game will be a rematch against the San Diego Surfers, taking on the California side September 29 at Infinity Park. Still atop the Women’s Premier League points race, the Merlins will look to solidify their position as frontrunners for the championship. Follow all of the Glendale teams on Facebook and Twitter for full-time scores on all games and additional information. For the 2018 season, the WPL Merlins will be playing on the Infinity Park Stadium pitch, opening for the professional men’s team, the Glendale Raptors. The full season schedule can be found at https://glendalemerlins.com/rugby-schedule/.
If you are interested in joining the Glendale Women’s Rugby program, whether at the WPL or Division 1 level, contact the recruitment chair at firstname.lastname@example.org, or come out to one of the practices to see the team in action. The WPL squad practices Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Infinity Park turf pitch.