Keystone’s forwards overpowered ORSU during the teams’ Women’s Premier League opener yesterday, setting up a 41-3 win for the hosts. New coach Marty Sarkees, who took over for longtime coach Pete Steinberg, inherited a team with a wealth of depth in the up front and wasn’t looking to alter the systems put in place by his predecessor.
“We have a very solid pack, with a lot of depth in the loose forwards,” Sarkees said. “There’s a nice combination of speed, athleticism and youth, and they really know how to move and put pressure on the opposition.”
“ORSU came out hard,” Sarkees continued, “and it was a pretty good match, but we just wore them down. We stuck with our game plan and were able to break through their defense. Once we did it, we found our rhythm and were able to do it the rest of the game.”
But not before adjusting to ORSU’s defense. The Oregon team exerted pressure in the breakdown and kept Keystone in check by slowing down their ball. Keystone regrouped, tightened up its rucks, and quickened the pace to put ORSU on the back foot.
“The game wasn’t too bad,” ORSU coach Jarred Power said. “We traveled with only 17 players and were probably our own worst enemies. Keystone was able to capitalize on these mistakes and this showed in the score line. That being said, I felt we had periods where we were running and moving the ball quite well.”
Keystone was working with a new halfback combination, with veteran Angie Brambley at scrumhalf and Lauren Rosso at flyhalf. “We want to build continuity and cohesion at this point,” Sarkees continued, “especially with a new 9/10 combination. We have a lot of experience in the backs, with some pretty hard runners, so we’ll be mixing it up the attack.”
Second row Stacy Baker had a wonderful game, cutting through the defense and never going down easily. She also added three conversions to lead the team with 11 points. And defensively, flanker Alison Worman stood out, making many key tackles and always running good support lines. Loose forward Michelle Kirk and Rosso each had two tries, while Baker, Worman and Brown alum France Male each added five-pointers. Elaine Schlabb accounted for ORSU three points
With New York on the horizon, Keystone will look to tidy up its defense this week during training. “We were able to exert a lot of pressure on ORSU,” Sarkees said, “but we’re expecting New York to come back at us. We’re just going to continue solidifying our game plan and working on our 9/10 cohesion.”
ORSU plays the Minnesota Valkyries, which New York beat 32-12 yesterday.
Tries: Kirk 2, Rosso 2, Baker, Male, Worman
Conversions: Baker 3