Las Vegas, Nev. -- The USA Women's Eagle 7s team will meet a strong Canada team in the final of the Women's International 7s tomorrow after exciting semifinals from both teams.
After going undefeated in Day One and Two of the Women's International 7s Invitational, the Eagles are flying high as they have played with an unprecedented motivation to bring home serious hardware. Their performance on Day One definitely displayed a new-found determination among the players on the newly professionalized Eagles.
Coming off of winter full of excitement within the team in regards to the professionalization of the USA Eagles 7s program and the heightened skill level of the players in the camp, the Eagles seemed like a new team when they took to the pitch throughout their Day One dominance in Las Vegas.
Wading easily through their opposition on Day One, the Eagles found themselves on Saturday morning preparing for a tough match against a toughened and explosive Netherlands squad. The Netherlands, one of the more experienced teams in the competition pushed their opponents to the side on Day one using their size and skill with the ball in hand to make it to the Women’s semis.
Running into a crowded Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to a crowd chanting our nation’s beloved name gave the Eagles a reason to smile before kickoff. On home turf in front of thousands was the perfect opportunity to build on their hard work on Day One.
The opening kickoff was welcomed by another roar from the crowd as two professional women’s teams clashed on a wonderful stage of international rugby. The first half saw quick pressure from the Netherlands as they worked their defensive line into the face of the Americans causing some mistakes within the American organization. The Netherlands used the ensuing miscommunications to pick from a broken ruck and put five points up on the board early in the match. Conversion was missed and Netherlands took the lead 5 to 0 over the Eagles.
Penalties riddled the first half play and sway much of the attacking come from set pieces as both teams flexed their power in the scrum which in turn saw the ball changing hands every few phases. After numerous penalties form the Netherlands squad allowing the USA to easily work their way down the pitch the Eagles found themselves five meters out and mounting the pressure in hopes of putting points under their name on the score board.
Most of the half saw the eagles within 22 meters of the Netherlands try line and a try was inevitable. Keeping composed within each of their attacking chances, the eagles were patient to find gaps and finally released Vanesha McGee on the wing who was tackled only inches from the try line. Amy Daniels quickly picked the ball form the ruck and slammed the ball into the French white wash. Conversion was missed and the teams went into half tied at 5.
The second half began with a couple penalties being exchanged by both teams as the tackles began to fly in and the rucking became sloppy with the exhaustion hindering on both squads. As the Netherlands squad began to grow tired their sweeper came out of position and the eagles spotted a gap behind the defense and were quick to exploit it. The eagles chipped over the line and gathered on the Netherlands’ 5 meter line. Devon Owsiany was quick to spot space on the wing and took the gap herself recording another try for red, white, and blue. The conversion by Elizabeth Black was good and the USA broke the tie and went into the lead 12 to 5 over the Europeans.
The game continued into the final minutes riddled still by penalties but with also great defensive work by the Netherlands as the Eagles looked to continue their attack. The tackling by the Netherlands could not stop the USA from advancing deep into their territory and getting a line out on the five meter line. From the line out Hildreth worked her way around some defenders and found herself alone in the Netherlands try zone. The Conversion was missed and the game ended with the USA over the Netherlands 17 to 5.
The Eagles are now undefeated in Las Vegas and will meet Canada in the Women’s final tomorrow. Canada beat a strong French side to secure their final slot and will be keen to build on their reputation as the ones to beat in this tournament. But the Eagles, showing unprecedented athleticism and supreme levels of endurance have a great chance at taking down their North American neighbors in an exciting final match tomorrow afternoon.