Miscues hand Canada first win of Can-Am Series

Miscues hand Canada first win of Can-Am Series

MILL BAY, BC -- Handling errors and defensive miscues proved costly for the Women’s Eagles to the tune of a 51-7 scoreline and the worst loss to Canada in program history Tuesday. The Maple Leafs exploited each advantage to capture the first game of the Can-Am Series.

Canada’s wide attack pattern saw Magali Harvey and Julianne Zussman tally three tries apiece in the game.

“Canada played a wide and fast game and that was something that we couldn’t keep up with,” Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said following the loss. “They did a great job and it showed that we need to make some changes heading into Saturday.”

In total, Canada was able to run in nine tries on the day on the back of five players.

“We struggled and they capitalized,” said Steinberg.

Shaina Turley had similar sentiments to the game and Canadian opposition, as well.

“All credit to Canada,” she said. “They came out hard, won their ball, and they executed their game plan. We ended up not playing our defense and it really hurt us in the end.”

However, the team must move on.

“We talked about what lies ahead of us,” said Steinberg of the message to his players. “That game is done and now we look forward to Saturday. Our goal is to grow from every game and this outcome makes it no different.”

Meya Bizer was able to account for the Eagles’ lone try, crashing through the Maple Leaf defense midway through the second half. Flyhalf Sadie Anderson was able to convert on the inside center’s try.

“Obviously the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but you could see glimpses of great play from us,” said Bizer.

Steinberg saw the same thing from his team.

“We had glimpses of really great play, but couldn’t string together series of play to make it work,” mentioned Steinberg.

The Eagles now turn to Saturday for the final match of the Can-Am series. Kickoff for the match is slated for 3:30 P.M. PT (6:30 P.M. ET) at Westhills Stadium in Langford, British Columbia.

Four turnovers led to four tries in the first half, with Canada capitalizing on each opportunity. A 22-0 Maple Leaf lead at the break proved too much of a deficit for the Women’s Eagles to overcome.

Canada only boosted its first half lead, running in five second-half tries to claim the match.

Back-and-forth breaks for each team opened the game seeing Canada capitalize first from 30 meters out. Kayla Mack touched down following the run to give Canada a 5-0 edge.

Despite driving efforts, penalties thwarted the U.S. attack in the opening segments of the game, each time being halted at midfield.

Zussman made the most of the early U.S. miscues, finding a hole in the defense and running 22 meters for a try.

Again driving efforts were turned away by Canada. However, a penalty gave way to the Eagles’ lone scoring opportunity in the half. Despite the attempt, Anderson was unable to connect from 20 meters out.

Right back to its attacking pattern, outside center Mandy Marchak pushed the game further in Canada’s favor. Andrea Burk converted to make it 17-0 Maple Leafs.

To close out the half, Harvey was able to repeat what she had done in 2013 at Nations Cup. The try, following a 50-meter break, came as the whistle sounded and Canada ahead 22-0.

Harvey picked up exactly where she left off in the opening set, mirroring her first try. Burk converted to push the Maple Leafs lead, 29-0.

Not to be outdone by here teammate, Zussman ran past the U.S. defense for her second try on the day.

At 36-0, Canada was not done there. Again, Zussman broke the U.S. defense to dot down for a try. Harvey added to her point total by converting the try, making the score 41-0 Canada.

The Eagles came knocking at the Maple Leaf try line, but the miscues again led to Canada turning the tables to race down the field and score. Turning the ball over, Canada quickly kicked the ball out of its territory.

With no one back to field the kick, Jessica Dovanne scooped up the bouncing ball and outran defenders for the try, making it 46-0. Harvey’s conversion went wide.

The Eagles did not quit, though, finally punching through in the waning moments of the game. Anderson converted Bizer’s try to lessen the deficit at 46-7.

Once more the U.S. defense folded, seeing Dovanne run through for a 60-meter try.

The try concluded the scoring at 51-7 and the Canada victory.

The win gives Canada a 1-0 lead in the Can-Am series.

On the game, Jamie Burke earned her 43rd cap with her start at prop. The honor furthers her total as the most-capped in program history.

Three players got their first caps for the Women’s Eagles - Tess Kohanski and Jacie Vonada donned the red, white, and blue jersey for the first time, along with Amanda Kingzett as a reserve.

The match was the first non-World Cup contest in the month of April for the U.S.A. The Eagles now hold a 7-2 record during the month following the loss.

Despite it being the first matches of the season, both sides know each other well, having last played during the 2013 IRB Women’s Nations Cup.

The July meeting saw the host Eagles best the Maple Leafs, 29-17, at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.

In the contest, Sarah Chobot dotted down twice for the Eagles, coming on as a reserve prop. Lynelle Kugler joined Nathalie Marchino and Kristin Zdanczewicz by also adding tries on the day.

To round out the scoring for the Eagles, kicking duties were assumed by Kimber Rozier and Bizer, who accounted for a conversion kick each.

For Canada, Sammy Crandell, Jane Kirby, and Laura Russell claimed tries during the match. Harvey converted one of the three tries.

Tuesday’s match was the 29th time the teams have squared off against each other. It was also the 14th time Canada hosted a series contest.

For more information on the Women’s Eagles, visit the team’s page or follow the team on Twitter (@USAWomenEagles).

Women's Eagles | v Canada
1. Naima Reddick
2. Tess Kohanski
3. Jamie Burke
4. Stacy Bridges
5. Molly Kinsella
6. Mel Denham
7. Phoebe Boone
8. Shaina Turley
9. Jennifer Lui
10. Sadie Anderson
11. Ryan Carlyle
12. Meya Bizer
13. Emilie Bydwell
14. Amanda Street
15. Jacie Vonada

Women's Eagles | Reserves
16. Katy Augustyn (@ 51')
17. Sarah Wilson (@ 46')
18. Libby Berg (@ 61')
19. Sharon Blaney (@ 40')
20. Amanda Kingzett (@ 64')
21. Carrie White (@ 64')
22. Kimber Rozier (@ 48')
23. Erin Overcash (@ 54')

Women's Eagles | 7
Tries: Bizer
Conversions: Anderson

Canada | Roster
1. Laura Russell
2. Kim Donaldson
3. Hilary Leith
4. Kayla Mack
5. Latoya Blackwood
6. Barbara Mervin
7. Karen Paquin
8. Kelly Russell
9. Stephanie Bernier
10. Kayla Moleschi
11. Magali Harvey
12. Andrea Burk
13. Mandy Marchak
14. Brittany Waters
15. Julianne Zussman

Canada | Reserves
16. Asya Bartley
17. Marie-Pier Pinault-Ried (@ 46')
18. Mary Jane Kirby (@ 40')
19. Tyson Beukeboom (@ 65')
20. Jacey Murphy (@ 59')
21. Julia Sugawara (@ 54')
22. Brittany Benn (@ 46')
23. Jessica Dovanne (@ 49')

Canada | 51
Tries: Mack, Zussman (3), Marchak, Harvey (3), Dovanne
Conversions: Burk, Harvey

Women's Eagles | v Can-Am Series
v Canada - Saturday, April 19 - 6:30 P.M. ET

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Comments (2)

  • Guest (Joe)

    There are some mantras in Rugby that have survived the test of time and the first test between USA and Canada on the 04/15 brings to mind “forwards decide who wins and the backs decide by how much”. This game brought up many questions as two sides, that were evenly matched at the breakdown and with similar wide attacking philosophies both came away with very different results in Canada’s record breaking 51-7 victory over the Eagles.

    Head Coach Peter Steinberg was quoted after the match as saying “That game is done and now we look forward to Saturday. Our goal is to grow from every game and this outcome makes it no different.” As a fan I hope that these words were reserved purely for the media as the worse loss to Canada in the program’s history should raise some serious questions about the structure and philosophy of the team, especially drawing near to a hundred days before the Women’s World Cup in August.

    The most obvious point of contention was the Eagles’ defence. Failure to contain the wide attacks of the Canadian back line led to a big blow out with two hat tricks from both Magali Harvey and Julianne Zussman. The American back line failed to cover their opposite number in defence leading to overlaps and wide expanses of open field in which to run. More alarmingly Canada scored a try out wide right after the start of the second half, which suggests that the coaching staff is either failing to make adjustments at half or the team just isn’t listening. Rugby is a game is which you can determine your offense but must be able to react to the other team’s pattern when defending. The Eagles failed to adjust to the defensive pressures throughout the match.

    This reminds me of the game during the last Nations Cup against England. Time after time England (In grand English Rugby tradition) moved the ball steadily forward with short bruising runs from their forward pack. The Eagles that time failed to adapt to the opposition’s strategy and did not engage numbers in the ruck which resulted in the US narrowly failing to reach the finals. Moving forward the Eagles must identify and react to what the other team is trying to do. One such example is I do not recall Canada once kicking the ball during general play and yet in many occasions the Eagles wingers were in the back field leaving too much room for Canada to exploit. Credit must be given to Canada for demonstrating the best at pace, flat passing this fan has yet to see in the Women’s game. This takes care of the second half of our mantra “backs decide by how much” which leads us to the next part in the equation.

    Throughout the match the US forwards competed strongly at the breakdowns and played in the signature Eagle’s physical style, therefore one has to ask how did the forwards lose this game? In my opinion it is due to the fact that the apparent strategy of the team’s offense has far too much emphasis on sending the ball wide to the backs. This may sound contradictory as Canada used exactly the same strategy. The difference was that they did so after strong, direct, advantage line gaining runs by their forwards. A wide attack strategy only works when the defence is retreating and numbers are forced to compete for the ball in the ruck. Sending the ball wide against a static and ready defensive line will only ever end up with at best lost ground and more likely an isolated back who will lose possession.

    It is a bad sign when the sports Canada commentary team identifies how many times the forwards will run with the ball before sending it wide (this being done so within the first 15 minutes of the game). An arbitrary number of forward runs before a back play is a recipe for failure and I believe the responsibility must be put to the coaching staff. A ball to the backs must come after hard fought meters by the forwards regardless of how many phases this takes (this is a core principle of the game). A running back in the NFL can’t make the yards unless the big men up front punch holes for him to run through. It is no different in Rugby. When I ask national players from other countries what characterizes the Eagles team it is their big physical pack. Yet forward plays of the ruck or runners receiving the short pass of the 9 or 10 are virtually non-existent. Effectively the Eagles have neutered the best assets they have in their team. Yesterday’s game was a great example of this and I believe needs to be addressed aggressively if the team is to improve.

    Two other factors also greatly impacted the Eagle’s offense. The frontline failed on the day to generate push in the scrums which left the attacking scrum already retreating before the ball was fed to the backs. Secondly kicking away possession and directly to Canada’s players relieved hard won momentum. Kicking for distance directly to a player is another Rugby cardinal sin, especially if it will be done to the Black Ferns in the pool games of the world cup. As an outsider I can only guess at the reasons but it is common for a coach with a backs mentality to ignore the importance of his pack on the offensive, this may be why most of the coaches around the world are ex-forwards. If there is one thing to take from this article it is that the Eagles need to drastically increase the amount of ball their pack receives as soon as possible. By doing so I believe the entire dynamic of play will change in the Eagles favour.

    I’m sure at this time the Eagles team are looking forward and focusing on the positives and I know this article has been pretty negative. However if anything yesterday’s loss should work as a wakeup call. Looking at the team proudly singing the anthem you a forced to notice the physicality and athleticism of the US team, developing athletes has always been America’s greatest strength. However rugby is the greatest team sport in the world. Victory isn’t measured in how fast you can sprint or how many heavy presses you do in the gym. It is about momentum, timing, synergy and adaptability. With the world cup not too far away I think it is time for the coaches to seriously review what the team is doing. Time on the field, instead of time in gym; phases of play instead of tackling session; honest game tape sessions instead of meetings about nutrition. I know it is hard to face ugly facts but the Eagles are better than that and there is so much potential to be realized. It is up to the leadership of the team to do this and as a fan I hope they do.

  • Guest (MuckrakerRugby)

    As long as the players and staff of the USA Women's Eagles are not practicing together on a regular basis in the ETCs, as long as the players have to crowd-source and scrimp to raise funds to travel to play international test matches, as long as Nigel Melville is in charge of USA Rugby, these kind of losses will continue.

    The problem isn't the players. The problem isn't the coaches. The problem isn't the staff in Boulder. The problem is the leadership that fails to provide adequate funding and neglects to provide proper support to the national teams.

    It starts at the top. Nigel, please resign your position and go home now.