The USA Women's International 7s Invitational will relocate into Sam Boyd Stadium today, but unfortunately for the USA, the Eagles didn't qualify for the semifinals. Even though the USA finished 2-1, poolmates Canada and the Netherlands matched the Eagles' record and bettered the home team's point differential.
But USA Women's 7s coach Ric Suggitt didn't view the day's progress with a heavy heart. "The girls have a great attitude and work ethic, which we're looking for as we build and move forward," Suggitt told RugbyMag.com. "We're young and have some nice veterans in Lauren Hoeck, Christy Ringgenberg and Nathalie Marchino. We're experiencing those growing pains that you've got to go through, but we'll build from it."
The Eagles opened up its campaign with a 55-0 win over the Austria-based Tyrolian Select, a team that fell 66-0 and 89-0 to Canada and the Netherlands respectively. Co-captain Hoeck notched a hat trick, Catherine Parkhill and Tyra Banks added two tries apiece, and Victoria Folayan and Sadie Anderson dotted down. Ringgenberg slotted five conversions for 10 points.
The USA followed up with eventual pool winners Netherlands, which lost to Canada 12-10 in the waning moments of its opener - thanks to a try from Women's Rugby World Cup veteran Laura Stoughton. After taking a 14-5 halftime lead, however, the Netherlands took its foot off the gas and saw the USA out front 15-14, thanks to tries from Folayan and Anderson, who was a true impact player for the squad.
With less than a minute remaining, Netherlands took advantage of a fatigued USA defense and found the energy to turn the corner and stiff-arm one more five-pointer into the try zone, finishing with a 21-15 victory.
"It was heartbreaking in the end," Suggitt told RugbyMag.com. "We came back in the second half, but one turnover lost us the lead that we fought so hard to get back in our hands. We still had a chance at the end, when we got a good kickoff reception, but we turned it over again, and the kick to touch ended it."
"There is some disappointment," Suggitt added, "but it gives us the chance to rebound."
Which the Eagles certainly did in its last match against Canada. The semifinal berth rested on this game, and the players expressed as much in contact. Folayan put her opposite on the ground and took the corner for 60 meters into the try zone. Ringgenberg converted for the 7-0 lead. Despite fatigue and mounting Canadian momentum, the Eagles held onto their lead into the half.
But Canada picked up where it left off, and before long Stoughton ran in a try in the corner, 7-5. The Eagles held onto the win but it wasn't enough to overcome Canada's point differential.
Spain and France represent pool B in the semifinals, having bettered the Hawaii All Stars and Canada B with ease. In the teams' final match of the day, European 7s Champion Spain toughed out a 14-12 win over France, and was rewarded with the pool's top seed.
Spain and Canada do battle in one semifinal, while the Netherlands and France play in the other. Stay tuned for updates.
Pool Play Results
USA 55-0 Tyrolian Select
Canada 12-10 Netherlands
Spain 26-7 Hawaii All Stars
France 21-7 Canada B
Netherlands 21-15 USA
Canada 66-0 Tyrolean Select
Spain 20-5 Canada B
France 36-0 Hawaii All Stars
USA 7-5 Canada
Netherlands 89-0 Tyrolian Select
Spain 14-12 France
Canada B 26-0 Hawaii Select