WSU First to Fall to Central
WSU First to Fall to Central
It appears that Mel Denham is working her magic, again. The new head coach took Central Washington to Pullman, Wash., this weekend for the Wildcats’ first run-out of the season. Although a pre-season friendly, CWU impressed in its 41-8 win over Washington State, the region’s top DI team.
“We scheduled this match with WSU in order to gain some on-field experience before league play begins and see how well we are able to execute basic skills,” Denham said. “I feel positive about the team’s performance and believe we have a solid foundation to build from. Everyone seems to be adapting well to the new culture and enjoying the experience. The team is working hard on and off the field, while maintaining a level of fun, which is the most important.”
The game’s first two tries came from former American International College players Haley Schafer and Cassidy Meyers, who also added a conversion. Meyers is a Kent (Wash.) alum and joined by several former Crusaders, including Asinate Serevi, Ashley Rolsma and Mele Halahuni. Halahuni had a great day barreling through defenders, scoring a try and setting up Rolsma’s five-pointer. Fallbrook's (Calif.) Sammy Pinson, who joined sister and former AIC player Megan at Central this year, also scored a try, while Katerina Long tacked on a conversion during the convincing win.
While “AIC” infiltrates much of the roster description, don’t expect to see a West Coast version of Yellow Jackets.
“As a coach, I believe the style of play should be determined based on the strengths of the athletes and the team's abilities,” Denham said. “The team and culture here are very different than at AIC, and the style of Central's play will reflect that.”
Although it’s early in the season, one suspects that Central has more versatility in the backs, a boon for assistant coach Katie Dowty, a former USA 7s captain. AIC has a big, strong pack but has transferred some of that speed and agility to CWU. The epitome of that multi-faceted forward is High School All American (honorable mention) Suliana Tausinga, who grew up with the Sacramento Amazons, one of – if not the most – feared U19 teams in terms of size and physicality. The fierce loose forward had been leading the team for years, and it’s so good to see her on the collegiate stage.
“She was asked to play both at prop and eightman over the weekend, and excelled in both roles,” Denham said. “Although quiet off the field, Suli is a force on the field with her physicality in contact and speed in the open field.”
It’s going to be an interesting season, and Central will continue to pepper in some more friendlies among its Pacific Mountain North league matches. In addition to competing in the Oregon State 7s national qualifier, CWU will host fellow varsity squad Quinnipiac, which is looking stronger than ever. Washington State, the reigning PMC North champion, will have an opportunity to exact revenge on Nov. 15.