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Club 7s Nationals: Memorable Individuals

  • 13 Aug 2018
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Scion’s Gallagher brought Eckerd, USA South & NSCRO All-Star experience / Photo: Boathouse/Tom Weishaar (see more)

The USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship was rich in talent, and the tournament captured those standout performances in its Dream Team. TRB heartily agrees with those selections, and the following list builds upon them.

Capped internationals have been omitted from the list, not because they don’t warrant mention – especially Saskia Morgan, Magali Harvey, Jess Wooden, Kristine Sommer, Bisty Cairns – but because they’re identified and put in the leading performances the field expects. This list, with some exception, focuses on newer and less visible players, and/or adds some background.

MVP

Try-scorers are easy to highlight, but good finishers like Morgan, Neariah Persinger and Jennine Duncan not only have speed in the straight-away, but also turn over isolated ballcarriers, chase down break-aways and have their own ways of sparking their teams. STEPHANIE ROVETTI, sister to Life West’s Morgan, did all of those things and scored the Surfers’ first try in five of six games. A former BYU basketball player, Rovetti picked up rugby as a grad student at Fresno State and electrified the West Coast during spring 2016. She was named MVP of the West Coast conference championship and scored the winning try, at the death, against UC Riverside in the Spring Round of 16. Glad to see she’s stuck with the sport.

USA Rugby’s Dream Team

YOUTH

ARPTC Blue’s JAYNEE TAUFOOU and JESSICA LAUGHLIN were favorites. Taufoou, younger sister to flyhalf and Utah State student Hallie, was a key impact player and notably scored the game-tying try against New York in the Cup quarterfinals. With no time, the teenager thumped her way downfield, evading what seemed like all of New York’s outstretched arms. Laughlin is heading to Lindenwood and spent the spring helping Broken Arrow to a DII High School NIT title (read more). The light-footed Oklahoman was unintimidated dancing through the defense.

Also, big fan of San Diego’s Teigan MacDonald, who is still in college at UC San Diego, and NOVA’s Summer Harris-Jones, who is relocating from UVA to Life University this fall.

WHAT, YOU FAST!

The best part of a large championship like this is seeing players known for their 15s work who translate nicely to 7s. MISHA GREEN, a lock on New York’s WPL-winning team last year, was one such player. Who can forget Green flying into view, corralling ARPTC’s Wooden after a long chase, and saving the try?

ALLY GALLAGHER, now a D.C. and Florida Siren, performed well. While at Eckerd College, Florida Sirens coach Mike Geibel consistently promoted Gallagher’s talent, and this past year has seen the 15s No. 8 play more 7s with the NSCRO All-Stars. A summer alignment with the D.C. Sirens allowed the nation to view her firsthand, and she distinguished herself in speed and size, and ran in several crucial tries for the national runner-up.

NEW EXPECTATIONS

Leading into the summer and the championships, coaches gave notice on players to watch, and many came through with big performances.

New York coach Ryszard Chadwick pointed to SHAMIRA ROBLES as having a knockout summer, and the recent AIC grad with Play Rugby roots was so good at nationals. No one has a silkier gait than Robles, who is really tricky in tight, too, and can turn on the jets quickly.

It’s tough to distinguish oneself on a thoroughly gifted team like Life West, but Age Ferris and Alex Houser both praised NIKKI KENYON for continual growth over the years. Kenyon was selected from the NDA 7s to the RWC 7s camp, and the natural scrumhalf did an excellent job of crisply moving the ball and creating opportunities for fellow Gladiatrix.

KRISTI KIRSHE was another must-watch this season. The Boston player drew immediate attention during the 15s season, joined the Northeast Academy to the NDA 7s and made that Dream Team. At nationals, Kirshe scored three tries against Scion in Boston’s 19-17 pool play win and showcased the speed and power that supported the previous accolades. Kirshe also works with the incomparable Dee Nash in the backfield and Paige Stathopoulos in the middle, two players at the core of Boston’s success.

FAVORITE TRIO

The championship had its share of upsets and last-minute decisions, and Atlanta was all about drama at the death. MO COMPITO was the general and helped set up CHI CHI CHUKWUEKE for the game-winner against Washington AC, followed by another last-play win over NOVA courtesy of CAITLANE FRICIA. With no time on the clock, Chukwueke centered a try against Berkeley, but the conversion missed for the 19-17 loss. The aforementioned, however, worked really well together and were an explosive trio – our favorite.

MISSED YOU

Two important players are back in rotation after lengthy rehabs: MEYA BIZER for San Diego and EVAN HOESE for Berkeley. The former is a capped 7s and 15s Eagle, and it’s likely you’ll hear her – that is, the collision – before seeing her. Bizer brought her trademark physicality to the Surfers, was unfazed in restarts and brutal in the breakdowns. Hoese joined the Berkeley coaching staff during rehab and employed that Harvard brain from the middle of the pitch this summer. Speed and turn of pace looked good, but unfortunately Hoese didn’t finish out the tournament.

Also, it was good to see EMILY COLESWORTHY on the pitch again. When college 7s championships were in their infancy, it was Norwich University that set the standard with consecutive titles, and Colesworthy was in the middle of it. Now on the opposite coast, Colesworthy injected great speed into Washington AC’s game.

#2018Club7s

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