The Raptors won’t settle for another winning season. They want parades, confetti, a magical season etched into the history books forever.
But disappointment after a win? Sullenness after taking sole lead of their conference? That’s what happening in Glendale, a women’s season swept up by expectations pumped with helium.
On Saturday, a pretty nice one at that, Hannah Stolba scored at will to help give the Raptors a comfortable lead over the Oregon Rugby Sports Union. But again, for the fourth time this season, late-game issues were reason for concern in the Raptors’ 28-24 win at Infinity Park.
After the win, one that put the Raptors a full game ahead of the rest of Blue Conference, Head Coach Michael Fealeysaid he was a little surprised with the team’s mood.
“It’s strange, but pleasing to see the girls act almost like we lost,” Fealey said. “We won, and I told them it was all about the ‘W.’ But they know there’s much more in the tank than that, and we have to work hard to fix certain problem areas.”
Stolba scored on an early try and connected on five conversion kicks en route to a 28-7 lead before the Raptors faltered a bit down the stretch. And in the last 20 minutes — 20 days if you ask the home faithful — back came ORSU, a team the Raptors mushed up 64-7 in the second week of the season, scoring the final 17 points before falling just short in a somewhat unsatisfying finish for both teams.
Relax? Sounds levelheaded enough.
On another level — however, a more nitpicky level — the Raptors said their late-game letdowns need to be addressed. The game against the San Diego Surfers, who scored 14 points in the finals minutes in Glendale’s 52-14 win to start the season? The two against ORSU, which scored all of their points late in each?
Both were wins, sure.
But it caught up in week three when the Berkeley All Blues outscored the Raptors 19-5 in the last 25 minutes of the game, won 33-22, and handed them their first loss of the season.
Fealey said that right there is motive enough to delve into the reasoning behind it.
“[It’s] mercy or complacency,” Fealey said. “Either one means we take our foot off the gas late in games when we should really step on their throat and squeeze the life out of them.
“But really it’s probably nerves. When it’s tight, and we haven’t been able to pull away like we know we are capable of, then a certain amount of doubt is bound to creep in.”
The Raptors have a bye week before a chance at a pinch of revenge against the All Blues on Oct. 18 at Infinity Park.
View the complete WPL schedule, results and more here.