Saturday, the Raptors (4-1) proved they’re more than a roster sheet of young and veteran talent, forcing their will in a 50-17 win over the longtime-maddening Berkeley All Blues (2-3), the same team knocked them out of postseason the last two seasons and handed them their lone loss of the season three weeks ago.
It had to feel good.
Beating the All Blues, the fly in the Raptors’ end-of-the-year champagne for two years running, and doing it by a margin that made every Glendale fan inside Infinity Park feel about as breezy as Matthew McConaughey does behind the wheel of a Lincoln, is one thing. But the fact that the win all-but-certainly secured them the top seed in the postseason was something not even Head Coach Michael Fealey could help but pump his fist about after the win.
“It certainly helps knowing we’re secure in the top two and we can give a crack at the championship. And it was especially pleasing in the manner we did it,” Fealey said. “The exciting thing is there’s more to come.”
The Raptors had struggled to finish teams off late in games this season, a weakness that cost them in their only loss of the season when they were outscored by the All Blues 19-5 in the second half of the 33-22 road loss on Sept. 27.
Led by Jeanna Beard’s shutdown defense however, the Raptors blanked the All Blues in the second half and ended the game on a 24-0 run, as Joanna Kitlinksi scored twice, and Laura Miller and Beard added another try apiece in Saturday’s win.
“We were far more committed to the contact than when we went away. We were better organized in areas too, but it’s just a result of fine-tuning what we’ve been working on all season, as well as adding each week to our structure,” Fealey said. “We have a fun style to play and watch, and I think the girls are really starting to enjoy it more now that they understand it better and can execute well.”
On paper, to lose the top spot in the standings would take a bonus-point win for Oregon Sports Union and a loss to the San Diego Surfers next Saturday. Unlikely? Sure.
After the last two stunning endings to their seasons, however, the Raptors aren’t leaving anything to what it says on paper.
“It’s not over till the fat lady sings,” Fealey added.
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