On Saturday, the Raptors realized they need to learn more about who they are, and what they’ll need to become, after their penalty-driven 33-22 loss to the Berkeley All Blues in Moraga, Calif.
Sure, the Raptors are probably good enough to beat anyone in the league. Good enough to get to the Women’s Premier League Championship and hold a parade in Glendale, perhaps. (Of course, some would say they were probably good enough last year, and the year before too.)
But in week three, the All Blues were better. Joanna Kitlinski and Erin Kennedy scored in a physical and momentum-dizzying first half for Glendale, and Rachel Ryan leapt across the try line to give them a 17-14 lead early in the second half. But the All Blues followed with scores on back-to-back tries, and Jenna Anderson’s score in the 68th minute, which cut the deficit to 26-22, ended up being the Raptors’ last as Berkeley’s defense proved suffocating in the final minutes.
“We seemed to wake up and get going in stages, but the real difference was that when we made breaks against the other teams (San Diego Surfers, ORSU) we punished them and scored,” said Glendale Head Coach Michael Fealey, whose team outscored its opponents 116-21 in the first two games of the season. “Berkeley was good enough to recover and there were four or five occasions during the game where they made last-ditch tackles to deny us.”
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Not yet.
The Raptors coach and players said they don’t believe there is any reason to hit the panic button after Saturday’s defeat, a defeat that was certainly less painful than the other the two losses to the All Blues — in the 2012 final and 2013 semifinal.
In fact, in a way, they said it might even help the Raptors in the long run.
“I spoke to Alex (Houser, Berkeley head coach) and he was as nervous as I was. He knows they left points out there too and was glad for the tough game. We are too, really,” Fealey said. “A repeat of last year, with no problems going into nationals, will make us complacent. We don’t want to travel that path again, that’s for sure.”
Next Saturday is another meeting with ORSU at 4 p.m. on the Infinity Park turf. The Raptors (2-1) won, and then some, in 64-7 fashion in the first meeting.
View the complete WPL schedule, results and more here.