Revolution Claw Back to Defeat Radiance in Second Game of Double-Header Weekend

by Clayton Carey

Raleigh, NC—Sunday, May 5. The Raleigh Radiance (0-1) home opener, following the AUDL Raleigh Flyers win against Austin Sol, was a clash between two of the most evenly matched teams the infant PUL has seen so far, and did not disappoint. The matchup was jam-packed with explosive plays and stunning throwing ability; the grit and determination of each team to make mental adjustments was equally impressive.

Respiro

Revolution (3-0) had a moment before the game began, during warm-ups, for what they call “respiro”, which translates to “rest”. Revolution coach Mauricio Moore explained that the moment was for each of their (yes, only fifteen) players to center themselves. Perhaps a little frazzled by the quick turnaround after their dominating win over the Atlanta Soul (0-2) the night before, Revolution players seemed appreciative of this moment.

Across the field, the Radiance addressed their moment. “We know we have to do what we know best,” captain Becky Widmayer explained before the game. “Especially in a big moment for us like this.” Radiance coaching staff were excited to see how the team chemistry would take shape. In contrast to Revolution’s star travel players like Kayla Helton and Claire Chastain, who have known and played with the Colombian squad before this year, Lisa Pitcaithley had only a few practices before taking the field with Radiance, a young team packed with younger college talent from nearby schools including UNC, NC State, and Duke.

Tale of Two Halves

As the first half began, so did the rain. A set of holds by both squads showcased the confidence and poise exhibited in their pregame warm-ups. The rain intensified, and both teams had a slew of turnover ridden points, during which the Radiance shot up to a 6-2 lead at the close of the first quarter. Their fiery play ignited the crowd, who applauded moments of lock-down defense as loudly as the goals. Anchored by a barrage of upfield throw-and-go attacking by the Revolution handling core, and aided by a few unforced turnovers by the Radiance, Revolution swung back to even the score at halftime, 8-8.

The second half began much like the first, with a string of holds. This time however, with the wind and rain subsiding, both offenses were able to display the firepower and prowess that had largely been quelled in the first half. Rebecca Fagan capped off a clean o-line hold for the Radiance with a massive layout score that brought the stadium to its feet. But Revolution answered, punching in an immediate clean hold of their own followed by their first break of the half. Revolution seemed to have gotten their legs under them, and their chemistry and throwing ability put pressure on the Radiance. Radiance made some fantastic defensive efforts, tipping several passes. Jessi Jones seemed to be a calming presence for the Radiance, especially around the end zone, but the Radiance simply had too many turnovers, and Revolution maintained possession better than their first half showing. Revolution had a 12-10 lead in the fourth quarter, then ballooned it to 16-13, outscoring the Radiance 9-5 in the second half.

Defining Values

“Fearlessness is one of our core values, and we really exemplified that from the start of the game,” remarked Radiance coach Eddie Alcorn. “[Revolution] presented a huge challenge and we stepped up to it. Our high level of energy in that regard caused some offensive decisions to be made too rapidly, and that’s an adjustment we have to make with the fast pace in this league.” Teammates Becky Widmayer, Katie Backus, and Lindsay Soo agreed with this sentiment, but were collectively inspired more so by the radiating positivity and appreciation their opponent brought to every moment and every play of the matchup.

Revolution’s Aleja Torres spoke about the differences in the first and second half for her team. “At the beginning of the game, the toll of travel seemed to be wearing on us all, and we weren’t taking the time to mentally relax,” she said. “[But] we knew during halftime, that when the mind improves, our game improves.”

Revolution teammate Gabby Jiminez echoed a similar sentiment. “During our first respiro, we weren’t responding to our reason, our reason we are here and love the game,” she said.

For coach Moore, the victory was defined by the team embodying their role as professionals. “They’re all in great shape, which means we can take fifteen players into a game and move them around to offense or defense as we see fit. They can all do it all. Once we relaxed a little during halftime, making the correct adjustments and trusting in each other became easy, but we needed to take that moment to look inside.”

Tim Kepner