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Cavs Stand Up Zons

HS Girls

Cavs Stand Up Zons

Captain Emily Roskopf was a big influence in Pleasanton's win.

In girls high school rugby, Northern California is considered Amazon territory. The January Kickoff Tournament seemed to reiterate that fact, and league contenders – namely Danville and Pleasanton – played sobering games against the Sacramento side. But Saturday showed that the league title is far from decided, as Pleasanton carved out a piece of NorCal land for itself.

“I thought it was possible,” Pleasanton coach Steve Lopez said of the 24-12 win. “The Amazons are the benchmark in northern California, so you never assume that you can beat them. We’ve been playing really well. The new girls have developed nicely since the beginning of the season, so I thought we had a shot.”

The Cavaliers played through some nerves but kept Sacramento off the board for about 15 minutes. Even though Pleasanton was trailing, the hosts were reassured in their defensive performance. That confidence boost propelled the Cavaliers into the try zone to keep it close at halftime.

“The girls realized they could play with the Amazons,” Lopez remembered the halftime regrouping. “In the second half, our defense was the story. We forced them to go a little wider, while we were able to exploit some gaps out wide with our speed in the backs. Obviously, they have some very talented players, so that’s easier said than done.”

Leading the forward effort was hooker Katrina Weinstein, one of the smaller players, who stood up to the physical Amazons on defense. Senior lock Malon Ruffin was also instrumental in shutting down the pick-and-go, staying hungry on fringe defense. The forwards allowed the backs to flourish, and that wide open attack was led by Pleasanton's incomparable captains.

“Emily Roskopf had a great day,” Lopez said of the High School All American. “Her running style – the way she hits gaps – is so aggressive, and she’s become an excellent tackler. And [flyhalf] Teigan MacDonald was spectacular. She doesn’t stop and is a great tackler.”

Roskopf and McDonald scored two tries apiece, while Maria Bellamacina slotted two conversions.

“The girls were ecstatic,” Lopez said of the win. “It was the first time we beat them in 15s, so for some of these girls, it’s been three or four years. It was a relief and confidence booster because the Amazons are so good. It helped them realize that they’re pretty good, too.”

Lopez was particularly proud of the team for their good sportsmanship and maturity.

“They’re excited for the rest of the season but see [this win] for what it is,” Lopez said. “This is just one game, and there are teams in this league and throughout California that can beat us at any time. The senior captains were conveying that mentality after the game, that they have to keep working.”

The top four teams between the Sacramento and Bay Area divisions will meet in the NorCal playoffs, so there is a good chance that Pleasanton will see the Amazons again. The next big game for both sides is against Danville, which plays Sacramento this Saturday and Pleasanton on March 21.

All three teams are currently committed to nationals, and there is a decent chance that they could all play in division one. Those decisions won’t be made until after playoffs, but there is a possibility that half of the DI competition would hail from California (including reigning champ Fallbrook from SoCal).

“We’re up for the challenge definitely,” Lopez said of potentially competing in national’s DI. “The program has developed to a point where we’d be competitive in DI, especially after our showing in DII last year. Quite honestly, it’s just awesome to be there; I’ll take DI or DII.”