Photo: Stacey Markovic
The pools for the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship have been released, and Atlantic North #2 Boston will meet ARPTC Blue, Scion and Metropolis (Minn.) on day one of competition. Boston, which is making its third appearance at nationals, is the only team in Pool D that also fields a women’s 15s team.
Captain Deanna Nash and selector Paige Stathopoulos are at the core of the leadership group, and they also inject higher-level experience from programs like the Northeast Academy. Seasoned veterans like Lisa Van Eerde and Stacey Markovic balance out new, young talent like Emma Santosuosso, Courtney Leahy and Kristi Kirshe, who was selected to the Wolfpack’s NDA 7s squad (alongside Nash, Stathopoulos and Abigael Yotts) and named to the Dream Team in Chula Vista.
“We’re really excited to see Kirshe and Courtney test their speed and strength at nationals, as they’ve been a blast to watch and play with this season,” Nash enthused. “We’ve also had a great group competing in the NERFU series that really pushed us and challenged us at trainings.”
Kirshe with Northeast Academy @ NDA 7s / Photo: Max Hayes (see more)
Six teams participated in the competitive region’s qualifier series, and they all posed different threats to each other.
“It was definitely a battle between us, NYRC and Beantown in the Northeast this season, but it would’ve been foolish to sleep on the other three squads at any of the tournaments,” Nash explained. “Empire [All-Stars] was always a good test, as they have a lot of young talent and a few experienced decision-makers mixed into their squad. Providence always comes out of the gate firing against us and are tough in the breakdown. Albany was new to the 7s scene this year, but their physicality and skills with the offload were a good challenge to our defense.”
New York separated itself from the group and won all three qualifier stops convincingly to repeat as Atlantic North champion. As for the second seed to nationals, an old rivalry found new life.
New York and Boston will rep the Atlantic North / Photo courtesy Boston Women’s Rugby
“The competitiveness eased up when Beantown returned to the WPL, but ramped back up again for 7s season since we’re both from Boston competing for a nationals seed,” Nash noted. “We were hoping with the new [round-robin qualifier] format that a bid to nationals wouldn’t come down to one match, but … the second seed in the Northeast pretty much landed with the winner of our third face-off in Saratoga.”
Beantown had one the first meeting 7-5 in Newport, and then Boston won the second game 34-12 in Monmouth.
“We knew it had the potential to be a close, competitive match,” Nash recalled the build-up to the nationals-deciding match. “We talked about what the outcome would mean briefly before the match and I think our whole team really got hyped up and rose to the occasion. We definitely saw a few individuals really backing themselves and stepping on the gas pedal with the rest of us with them in support.”
The rubber match went to Boston and the team will ride that final triumph to New York City for nationals on Aug. 11-12. There, Boston will meet ARPTC Blue, which is the full-time residency’s top side (ARPTC White is in Pool B); Scion, a National Development Academy that has some young but tested experience this year; and Metropolis, which has its roots in the Minneapolis and Youngbloodz 7s programs.
“I think our goals for nationals are similar to our mindset at each tournament this summer. We are looking forward to taking it one game at a time and playing our best rugby,” Nash forecasted. “We had some games this summer in which we met our smaller goals and in those games we played rugby that looked and felt great, so it’s just focusing on how to achieve those goals over the next few weeks and executing at nationals.”
For more information on nationals, visit www.usaclub7s.com.