Saturday: Furies D2 vs Raleigh
The Division 2 squad of the Washington Women’s Rugby Football Club came out hard in their season opener against the Raleigh Venom. One of the toughest competitors the Furies face in regular season play, the Venom won the match 39-7. Despite a loss, the Furies left the field feeling confident for the season ahead. As the first game for a new D2 squad, the team quickly started to gel and work together, 15 as 1. For many, it was their first game as a Fury; one third of the starting lineup played their first match for the blue and gold.
A persistent rain fell throughout the Saturday match, keeping the ball messy. The Furies capitalized on many Raleigh penalties, repeatedly moving the ball up the field after breakaways from the visiting team drove it towards their endzone. In the first half, the more-experienced Venom were able to capitalize on several mistakes by the home team. In quick succession Raleigh picked off a pass inside the DC half, and followed a loose ball to touch, earning points for both mishaps. Despite the point differential, the Furies worked out the kinks of their offensive strategy and dominated in scrums. After the half-time score saw the Furies down 22 points to nil, opportunity presented itself. A scrum to the Furies on the Raleigh 5 meter line, and 8-man Anna Savage carried the ball over the line for a try. A conversion by Mesha Cichon clinched 7 points.
The Raleigh offense continued to feed the ball to their speedy number 14 who found her way through the fringes of the defense to earn several more points in the game. But the Furies did not relent, continuing to pressure their visitors to the final whistle was blown. In spite of the loss on the boards, the team came away with positive feedback and anticipation of the rest of the season ahead.
Curious how the Furies D2-Raleigh game went last year? Reread the match report here.
Sunday: Furies WPL vs New York
On a beautiful day for rugby in Northern Virginia, the DC Furies came out hard with a win at home over NYRC to kick off their WPL season. With a final score of 25-10 for the Furies, this weekend’s match showed DC’s potential, highlighted their strengths, and exposed areas for improvement throughout the season.
With a strong start, DC scored to take the lead early in the first half. Despite injuries in two of the starting back three, seamless substitutions allowed the Furies to carry their offensive momentum to a 15-0 lead by the end of the first half with a converted try and a kick for points. Early in the second half, NYRC capitalized on a lack of defensive discipline and several tackling errors to score two tries, threatening the Furies’ lead. But after regrouping with increased focus and intensity, DC kicked for another three points and converted another try to finish with a solid victory.
“The Furies’ goal for the match was to implement the dynamic and fast-paced game plan they have been working on during practice, and they had moments where that plan worked very effectively” said coach Dre Khoury. DC played significant portions of the game within scoring range and maintained possession throughout multiple phases, but struggled to finish due to errors in handling and set pieces. With the focus now on execution, the Furies plan to reduce errors in decision-making and basic skills that hampered their effectiveness on attack.
There were several standout performances over the course of the game. Hunter Griendling, recovered from a knee injury, provided a steadying influence and solid leadership in the back line, and Cynthia Wright, a recent transplant from the West Coast, “made a huge impact with her devastating tackles and her aggressive running”, according to Khoury. Maggie Olney, new to the Furies, played three different positions between the backs and forwards and was effective in all areas of the field, and Emily Smith was a fan favorite. Khoury pointed out that “it speaks volumes about a team when someone who has been a dedicated member finally gets a chance to shine at the highest level and steps up to the challenge and is successful”; Ellen Treimel exemplified those qualities, showing impressive knowledge of the game plan and consistently stepping up to tackle, ruck, and provide support to her teammates.
Following the match, the Furies and NYRC both fielded B-Side squads for another competitive match, which NYRC won 10-3. As Khoury noted, “the Furies are as successful as they are because of their dedication to fielding a competitive B-Side and a Division II side each weekend”, allowing substitutes and Division II players to gain valuable high-level experience.
During the B-Side match, both teams played hard, “but with a lot of substitutions and players out of position, it was a little choppy” said Division 2 coach Lance Pruett. “The Furies were strong in the set pieces and were able to keep possession for long periods, but were unable to break the NYRC defense”. Jen Putnam was outstanding in her first 15s match as a prop and Anna Cohen-Price was dominant in the lineout and was ferocious in defense. Katie “Sally” O’Malley led the back line well from the flyhalf position, and did a great job directing traffic and moving the ball. Sarah “Fagan” Grose also did a fantastic job at fullback, making some important tackles and inserting well into the back line.
All the players had a great experience, and are looking forward to continued improvement next weekend when the WPL play the Amazons in Minnesota on Sept 21st and DII plays the Maryland Stingers at home on the 20th.