Wisconsin U-19 Women Earn Midwest Co-Championship
The first-ever Wisconsin Under-19 Women’s Select-Side Team opened its program history as regional champions after traveling south to Elkhart, Indiana this weekend for the 2006 Midwest U-19 LAU Tournament at the Moose Rugby Grounds.
Championship Team Picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwrfc/170699092/
Wisconsin defeated Ohio and Minnesota to earn Co-Champion honors with Indiana in the six-team women’s bracket. Due to only one day of competition and two games each, there was no title match held to determine a single champion in this developing tournament. It was suggested that for the 2007 tourney, there should be a clear path to a single champion as many fans would have liked to have seen Wisconsin play Indiana for the title this year.
“It was a great weekend … success, things to work on and improve and an opportunity to work with a great group of young ladies,” Zischke said. “We’re looking forward to a few more U-19 game opportunities this summer, including a possible re-match against Minnesota prior to an Eagle Women’s game in Minnesota and the Highland Games in Waukesha.”
Wisconsin traveled to Elkhart with 27 players from seven different clubs led by head coach Gray Zischke, assistant coach Blondie the Blogger and team co-captains Katy Hall and Brittany Houston.
“Brittany and Katy did a great job in getting together and teaming up to do ice breakers and facilitating the development of a ‘Wisconsin Team’ in such a short period of time,” Zischke said. “Also, Katy did yeomen work in getting together our team jerseys, materials from the Union and assisting in planning and making sure our weekend came together … besides anchoring the front row very successfully.”
Supporting Wisconsin, the team was joined by several parents on the road and in the stands, including dad and Madison Militia coach Dan Jensen who provided technical input for scrumwork and ran the fields as touch judge.
Wisconsin opened tournament play against a young Ohio squad early Saturday morning. Despite Wisconsin’s disappointment at Ohio’s request for uncontested scrums, the women in purple took an early lead.
“In our first match against Ohio, I was wondering how the team would respond with all that had been thrown at them Friday night and Saturday morning in terms of patterns of play, set pieces and meshing a team out of individuals from seven different teams,” Zischke said. “The answer came just five minutes into the match as scrumhalf Brittany Houston danced down the line 20 meters on a weakside play to score in the corner to give us a 5-0 lead.”
The first half for Ohio set the pattern for both of Saturday’s games as Wisconsin played aggressively on defense and past the gainline in the opposition’s territory, but struggled at times with keeping possession and not finishing off scoring opportunities after long phases of attack. Despite struggling in some of the loose play, inside center Sam Larsen gave Wisconsin a 10-0 lead at the half on a 25-meter run to the left corner of the tryzone.
Wisconsin’s centers struck again early in the second half as Allison Sladek shrugged off tacklers and used several well-placed fends to score on a 22-meter run. Ohio wouldn’t quit though and finally capitalized on Wisconsin penalties and strong rucking to drive down to the line for a score off a penalty play at 35 minutes to draw the score at 15-5.
Wisconsin fullback Nicole Coste gave her team solid clearing and tactical kicking to join No. 8 Lindsey Fickau in keeping Ohio pinned down for the remainder of the match, while flanker Abbey Theiler finished off the scoring as time expired on a ten-meter burst. Wisconsin prop Meghan Ward barely missed on several conversion attempts from the sidelines. Final score: Wisconsin 20, Ohio 5.
Notably, fans remarked that several of Ohio’s players in the second half gave Wisconsin a battle but later realized that these Ohio substitutes were actually Wisconsin players Sarah Thomas, Lindsey Depies, Caroline Blackburn and Kaitlin Youwer. Additionally, Wisconsin’s Kendra Miller also subbed in for Allegheny.
After a break from the 90-plus degree heat, Wisconsin returned to the pitch to play Select-Side rival Minnesota with its full roster.
Wisconsin started out strong as wings Sarah Chimielewski and Dani Schultz and outside center Allison Sladek gave their team some long runs and Wisconsin worked hard to keep better possession in loose play, attacked aggressively on the weak side and sent the ball out wide several times. Minnesota kept the home team scoreless with stingy defense though and took advantage of rucks lost by Wisconsin at key moments to thwart scoring opportunities close to the tryline.
Wisconsin flyhalf Melissa “Rabbit” Ponsegrau finally broke Minnesota’s defense at the 15-minute mark after passing the ball wide, looping and taking the offloaded pass from one of her outside backs to sweep in for try on a 15-meter run for the 5-0 lead. Minnesota responded with aggressive rushes by its loose forwards and came agonizingly close to scoring as the half expired.
Scrummie Brittany Houston brought Wisconsin back into the tryzone quickly in the second half after a quick-tap penalty to slide in for the score and 10-0 lead. Rallying back, Minnesota returned the ball to the forwards for the next 15 minutes before scoring under the posts on a run by a wing when the ball was finally sent wide. The ensuing missed conversion by Minnesota seemed to wake up Wisconsin and the women in purple battled back and forth for the final scoreless ten minutes as the heat seemed to take its toll on the two young teams. Final Score: Wisconsin 10, Minnesota 5.
For more action and group photos of the U-19 women taken by Asst. Coach Blondie the Blogger, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwrfc/ (Wisconsin Women’s RFC photo gallery site).
The 2006 Wisconsin U-19 Select Side Traveling Squad
Player Name – Home Club
Kasey Augustine – DSHA
Molly Berenson – Madison
Caroline Blackburn – Brookfield
Sarah Chimielewski – DSHA
Nicole Coste – Vernon
Lindsay Depies – Northshore
Lindsey Fickau – Vernon
Katy Hall – DSHA – 2006 Co-captain
Brittany Houston – Vernon – 2006 Co-Captain
Cori Jensen – Madison
Emily Kaltenbach – Brookfield
Samantha Larsen – Vernon
JoAnna Lund – Vernon
Kendra Miller – Madison
Susan Murray – Brookfield
Holly O’Brien – Brookfield
Mellisa Ponsegrau – Vernon
Dani Schultz – Northshore
Lily Schultz – Northshore
Elizabeth Showers – Madison
Allison Sladek – UW Stevens Point
Abbey Theiler – Northshore
Sarah Thomas – Fond du Lac
Meghan Ward – DSHA
Everlee Wihongi – Unattached
Reiddyn Wihongi – Unattached
Kaitlin Youwer – Fond du Lac
Unavailable for the Midwest Tournament
Brittany Biedenbender – Vernon
Kelli Cholka – Vernon
Abbey Churchill – UW-Madison
Kelly Frahman – Muskego
Halie Fry – UW-Stevens Point *
Stephanie Luckey – UW-LaCrosse
Clair Oblamski – Brookfield
Katie McCormick – Kettle Moraine *
Julie Miewseen – DSHA *
Natalie Mills – Marquette University *
Jackie Neubert – Kettle Moraine
Kathyrn Jensema – UW-Stevens Point
Sarah Pebler – UW-Madison
* denotes player with the the USA Eagles U-19 Womens Team
Head Coach: Gray Zischke – UW-Stevens Point
Asst. Coach: Blondie the Blogger – Wisconsin Women’s RFC (Madison)
Asst. Coach: Scott Prunckle – UW-Milwaukee
Manager: Casey Shearing – Wisconsin Women’s RFC/Madison Militia
Technical Advisor: Bob Jafferis – Wisconsin Rugby Club (Madison
It was a good weekend and a great way to learn how to be a coach.