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Monday to See Two Top 4 Women Colleges Meet

Sunday Sep 6, 2009 in Women Colleges

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(Penn State won a national title last year, but have graduated several top players since then. Alex Goff photo.)

Two top women’s college teams face off Monday, Labor Day, as #1 Penn State hosts #4 Army in a preseason clash.

Neither coach is particularly interested in hyping up the match, as it’s pretty clear a convincing win for either will probably to more harm (in terms of overconfidence) than good.

“We have some good players returning but we graduated a lot of experience,” said Penn State head coach Pete Steinberg. “We have basically a completely new back row and we lost some outstanding players there. So we’re just working on the game Sunday against Grand Valley State and the game against Army to see what we have.”

But PSU has also added some talent. Chief among these is USA U20 captain Lisa Henneman, who took a year with the Seattle women’s club before enrolling at PSU. Henneman has been an age-grade national team player for four years and can player anywhere in the backs. Amanda Cruz-Ortiz joins the team with extensive high school experience, and USA U20 player Hannah Gregor has also transferred in.

“We have coming in a number of athletic freshmen that have played rugby in high school,” Steinberg said.

Meanwhile Army has questions to answer too.

“We’ve only had two weeks of training,” said Army head coach Will Riddle. “We have only two players who had any sort of experience of rugby in high school, so we’re definitely teaching the game from the ground up.”

Riddle said he was very pleased with how his team performed last year, pushing Stanford hard in the quarterfinals.

“Considering what a young, inexperienced team we had, playing a new system and being mostly freshmen and sophomores, I couldn’t have been more pleased with them,” Riddle said.

Riddle said he just wants his team to use this weekend to see what a hard match is like.

“It’s not a contest of who’s better,” he said.

“We are going to find as many players as we think are capable of playing A-side and going to give them some time,” said Steinberg, adding that no player will play two full games on Sunday and Monday.

“We’re really lucky in the sense that we have two league games in the fall and the rest is working on development and rebuilding depth.”

- Alex Goff

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