Atlanta’s Fricia, seen here during club season, scored a crucial try. / Photo: Meredith Nelson/MEAN Photography
Day one of the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship did not disappoint. The weather did produce slippery conditions and at one point a lightning delay, but teams adjusted and never eased off the gas.
2017 runner-up San Diego put up the most impressive numbers, posting two shutouts and averaging 29.6 points per game. Stephanie Rovetti was particularly dangerous with ball in hand, and it was good to see Meya Bizer playing championship ball again. Evan Hoese also returned to the pitch after back-to-back injuries and was crucial to Berkeley’s second-place finish in Pool B. That berth to the Cup quarterfinals essentially came down to a 17-7 win over the Chicago Lions.
Pool B, arguably, followed predictions the closest – San Diego winning and Berkeley and Chicago Lions vying for second, although ARPTC’s second side was very skilled. The rest of the field held some surprises.
Life West fulfilled expectations of winning Pool A but had to rally from early deficits to both Phoenix and Rocky Mountain Magic. The Gladiatrix spread the responsibility around but Nikki Kenyon and Bitsy Cairns were consistently good. Magali Harvey was the hinge around which Phoenix worked and was one of the best over the ball, and Magic captain Alli Hale was the difference-maker in the Cup quarterfinal-deciding match against Phoenix. The D.C. Furies went 0-3, perhaps derailed after an opening 7-5 loss to Rocky Mountain, and gave Life West its closest game, 12-7.
Scion ended up winning Pool D but not without a scare. The Sirens built what felt like a comfortable lead against Boston in the teams’ first game of the day, and then the Atlantic North runner-up rallied to win 19-17 with standout showings from Dee Nash, Paige Stathopoulos and Kristi Kirshe. But Boston did not defeat Metropolis by the margins that ARTPC Blue and Scion did, and when the three teams finished 2-1, the aforementioned advanced on point differential.
Both Scion and ARPTC have their long-standing stalwarts – Saskia Morgan, Lauren Rhode, Maggie Myles for the former, and Jess Wooden and Abby Vestal for the latter – but the younger class injected good life. ARPTC sisters Jaynee and Hallie Taufoou contrast in style, power and grace, but are quality, as is Scion’s Ally Gallagher, who is a 7s prop but can aptly finish down the sideline, and did for several tries.
Even more drama evolved in Pool C. New York went 3-0 pretty cleanly but got solid fights from all three pool mates. Shamira Robles, who doesn’t look like she’s breaking a sweat when pulling into open space, distinguished herself on the day.
But it was Atlanta that went after it today. The Harlequins rallied to beat Washington Athletic Club (WAC) 15-14 at the death, meaning the teams’ third-round results would determine the second Cup quarterfinalist. WAC played a competitive game against New York – Jennine Duncan is still that player who can make something out of nothing – to finish 1-2. On the other pitch, NOVA led Atlanta 10-0 at the break.
Mo Compito and Chi Chi Chukwueke scored to tie it up, and the game moved into injury time. Captain Compito then stepped an exhausted defender and just as the cover defense closed in on the sideline, hit Caitlane Fricia in support for the go-ahead try and win. That victory put the Quins into the Cup quarterfinals over WAC.
The unpredictable game of 7s continues tomorrow, when a new club 7s champion will be named. For kickoff times, click here.
CUP QFsNew York v ARPTC BlueSan Diego v Rocky Mountain Scion v AtlantaLife West v Berkeley
BOWL QFsBoston v NOVAPhoenix v ARPTC WhiteWashington AC v MetropolisChicago Lions v DC Furies
DAY ONE RESULTS
POOL ALife West 22-5 PhoenixLife West 27-5 Rocky Mountain MagicLife West 12-7 DC FuriesRocky Mountain Magic 14-10 PhoenixRocky Mountain Magic 7-5 DC FuriesPhoenix 21-5 DC FuriesPOOL BSan Diego 24-0 ARPTC WhiteSan Diego 29-0 BerkeleySan Diego 36-7 Chicago LionsBerkeley 17-7 Chicago LionsBerkeley 26-0 ARPTC WhiteChicago Lions 14-7 ARPTC WhitePOOL CNew York 24-7 AtlantaNew York 21-10 NOVANew York 22-14 Washington ACAtlanta 15-14 Washington ACAtlanta 17-10 NOVAWashington AC 19-12 NOVAPOOL DScion 52-14 MetropolisScion 22-0 ARPTC BlueARPTC Blue 31-0 MetropolisARPTC Blue 27-5 BostonBoston 19-17 ScionBoston 14-7 Metropolis