CWU Youngsters Aid ORSU Win
CWU Youngsters Aid ORSU Win
Central Washington launched into action last weekend, traveling to ORSU for an extended friendly. The Oregon side fielded a mixed squad – one with DII club and Women’s Premier League players – but it was the visitors who put the right combination on the field. The Wildcats won the 80-minute match 55-10, and then followed with a 17-3 victory during the third period.
Familiar names like Mele Halahuni, Sammy Pinson, and Suli Tausinga populated the box score, but toward the end of the regulation match, newcomers Mckenzie Pusch and Joanna Moreira dotted down their first tries in a Wildcat jersey. The outing as a whole was a good first look at the incoming class, and with All Americans Nate Serevi, Jenny Johnston, and Haley Schafer all missing due to injury, and Fina Toetu’u absent while serving her mission, there was flexibility in positional experiments.
“Yana Manoa impressed with her physicality and game awareness, stepping in for the first time at No. 8,” Central Washington coach Mel Denham said of Samu Manoa’s first cousin. “Leah Ingold and Emma Leonard lit up the back line attack in various combinations of flyhalf and inside center. Mckenzie Pusch set a standard for the back triangle with her tenacious work rate and speed at wing. And resting Angela Ve'evalu in the second half allowed Hannah Lewandowski the opportunity to step up and anchor the front row, which she did solidly.”
The aforementioned are just a sampling of the new blood in Ellensburg. Washington state is well represented, and so are the Loggers. Ingold, Lewandowski, and Moreira are also High School All Americans, while Delaney Atkinson, Daja Curtis, and Paige Wyatt have represented the state all-star team. Diana Nault hails from Shelton, and Kashayla Jewett is a Kent alum.
California is the second leading source of players. Kiana Saffings (Dixon, Calif.) was a NorCal all-star like Manoa and has played for the Atlantis 7s; South Bay Spartans (Calif.) sent two graduates in Meagan Curtis and Jherish Moananu; and longtime high school national champion Fallbrook lent Brittney Eldridge.
Out-of-state highlights include Oregon State transfer Kayla Postula, a Women’s Collegiate All American; and Simsbury, Conn.’s Kalyn Denalsky, who also has a decorated baseball resume.
Denham extended her recruitment efforts to as far as New Zealand, Leonard’s home. Pusch hails from Edmonton, Alberta, while Toronto native Cassidy Rowe is now a West Coaster.
The Wildcats begin their Pacific Mountain Conference schedule this weekend against Washington State and will play all of its league matches this fall. Unlike years previous, home and away matches are not mandated, and Central Washington has used that extra room to schedule some interesting friendlies.
CWU goes East Coast to play Norwich and Quinnipiac on Oct. 17-18, and then hosts BYU on Oct. 24. Each weekend, save the varsity tour, will also field a 2nd XV match against a different opponent.
“This is to ensure that everyone on the roster is playing rugby and has the opportunity to perform, develop and compete each week,” Denham reinforced. “We play rugby because we love to play rugby. Meaningful games are the most important thing.”
Stay tuned as the Pacific Northwest gets underway.