Big Fight, Tough Losses to Norfolk, Glendale

The DC Furies DIvision 2 and WPL sides suffered two tough losses Saturday, September 14, ceding to Norfolk Storm and the Glendale Raptors, respectively.

The day of rugby began on the East Coast, with the sun shining bright on ideal early fall weather.  After last-minute mayhem over a change in fields, the Furies arrived at Signal Hill Park in Manassas with focus and furor, ready for their home opener and christening of the Division 2 squad.  The game kicked off at noon, with the Furies receiving the ball.  It didn’t take long for Norfolk to capitalize on the inexperience of this Furies side and carry the ball straight through the centers to score.  With this wake-up call, DC returned to the 50.  Strong defense kept the Storm within their half, but penalties by the home team allowed yardage gains, and the strong Norfolk forwards fought the ball to the tryline.  Furies fought it out and held the ball up- the first of a day of many held up tries and 5m scrums.

The rest first half progressed much the same. Norfolk played to their strengths, sending the forwards crashing into the DC defense.  Former Fury Holly Gaff persisted as a particular nuisance, exploiting her ability to draw in several defenders and off-load the ball.  The Furies weren’t without their offensive attacks.  Reflecting several nights of practice dedicated to understanding a new strategy of play, the Furies worked to find each other and holes in the defensive.  Several times the backs swung the ball out wide, moving play across the field and into Norfolk territory, but finding the sideline and lineouts to the opposition.  If the strengths of the visiting team didn’t already make this match a forwards’ contest, infractions by both teams precipitated many set pieces.  Well into the first half the Furies found themselves in a lineout within the Norfolk 22.  Practice paid off and all together- from the forwards, to scrumhalf Suzanne Haggerty, to the backline- the 15 executed their parts to put winger Christina over the line for a Furies try.  The half concluded Norfolk 26 – 7 DC.

The Furies brought renewed vigor in their defense in the second half.  Co-captain Tomar “Town” Brown, in particular, showed her Fury pride, making big hit after big hit, and earning the Player of the Match award.  Collectively, the forwards held up five consecutive attempted tries by the Storm, leading one to question the record for tries held up.  In a marked improvement from the first half, the Furies allowed only 2 more tries in the game, bringing the final score to Norfolk 36 – 7 DC.

While ultimately losing the match, the Furies showed great strength and potential across the new Division 2 squad.  Hard work throughout the week will capitalize on this potential.  An additional B-side half shows the depth of the team, with the Furies coming out on top, 12 – 5.

Later that day and 1,600 miles west, ominous clouds hovered above Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado where the Women’s Premier team were warming up for their match against the Glendale Raptors.  The teams took the field at 4 pm MDT/6 pm EDT, the Division 2 and non-travelling Furies glued to Twitter feeds on their cell phones in DC.  The Furies started with a strong offensive attack, but Glendale quickly took control and put points on the board.  Furies’ possession was continuously upset by infractions- lineout not straight, forward pass, scrum things- and the Raptors capitalized to score again.  Defensively, strong play in the backline put pressure on the home team, keeping the action on their defending half.  Strong forwards from Glendale chipped away at the DC defense. A rolling maul gained more points for the home team, and aggressive forward runs continued to drive back the Furies, despite big hits around the breakdown.  With inclement weather and two strong teams on the field, possession volleyed back and forth.  The Furies relied on their strong kickers in the back line, and a number of times Jess Shipley, Emily Miller Glodzik, and Katie “Sally” O’Malley put their boot to the ball to gain territory.  The half ended with Glendale 24 – 0 DC.

The half-time talk regrouped the Furies, and they took the field as a more-connected defense and more aggressive offense.  Half-time sub of rookie Katy Stewart made noticeable impact to the level of play. Glendale eked out one more try, but the Furies held them to it for the remainder of the game.  After the missed conversion, DC came at the Raptors with a vengeance.  Both teams battled with fervor, pushing play back and forth across the pitch.  Finally, the Furies capitalized on a penalty within the Raptor’s territory and sent the ball to wing Lauren Rhodes who logged the Furies’ first points of the day.  The unsuccessful conversion put the score at Glendale 29 – 5 DC.  The fight continued with strong, but unsuccessful, advances by both teams.  Despite the aggression of the Furies, the game ended in the Raptor’s favor.

Following a bye week, the Premier side will host Beantown (1-1), who also suffered a loss to Glendale (48-36), and earned a win over NYRC (37-8).  The Division 2 side hosts Raleigh Venom (1-0) in the same weekend.

In the bye weekend, the Furies will celebrate 35 years of Washington Women’s Rugby Football Club.

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