All Americans are 2-0 all-time for 7s titles. /// Photo: Steven Seiller
The Girls High School All Americans (GHSAA) traveled north to the Vancouver Rugby Festival and competed in the U18 Elite 7s division the previous two days. The fixture marked the program’s second-ever 7s event, and the squad looked to repeat the championship successes from its debut at the 2015 LVI. After two days of muddy play, the All Americans did just that and outscored opponents 271-5 for the tournament trophy.
“Our coaches really emphasized from our first training that we wanted to come and work harder than everyone else, and I feel that at the end of this tournament we did just that,” All American co-captain Mata Hingano reported from Canada. “We wanted to remember to stay deep in our attack, drawing defenders and finding the space on the outside, and not taking anything for granted here, regardless of the score.”
The All Americans brought a nice balance of speed and power to Canada. Hingano, Lolo Maakafi and Daisy Manoa, to name a few, led the way in physicality, while flyers like co-captain Lilly Durbin, Kayla Canett and Brianna Vasquez have fantastic finishing speed. The entire 12-member team got plenty of field time, and all were integral to the one-sided victories and tournament trophy.
“Every game we came out and were determined to work harder and improve from the game before, and that’s evident from the work of players and the scores,” Hingano added. “I felt like we all played really well together and stayed humbled through the whole tournament. I’m so honored to be captain for this team and to be able to share this opportunity with them.”
Hingano was one of eight players who was active at last weekend’s Las Vegas Invitational, and four (Hingano, Durbin, Canett, Bayleigh Gable) played under GHSAA 7s head coach Emilie Bydwell, who served as the Atavus U18 All Stars coach in Vegas. The Danville Oaks player indicated that the competition level was essentially the same between the LVI and Vancouver, but it was especially gratifying to get a win against the B.C. Elite, which had defeated Atavus in the LVI final.
“Also, I feel like if it wasn’t for the coaches, we would have never adjusted so quickly,” Hingano continued. “Being able to practice with girls from all over the U.S in only about two days and then playing as a team is just amazing to me.”
Stay tuned for more feedback from GHSAA coach Emilie Bydwell.
GHSAA – Vancouver Rugby Festival
Lolo Makaafi – Kent, Wash.
Mata Hingano (c) – Danville, Calif.
Julia Riekena – Missoula Vixens, Mont.
Gio Ferguson-Lewis – Play Rugby Academy, N.Y.
Bayleigh Gable – Grandville, Mich.
Daisy Manoa – Danville, Calif.
Lilly Durbin (c) – Fallbrook, Calif.
Kayla Canett – Fallbrook, Calif.
Kathleen Gearhart – Penn, Ind.
Cassidy Bargell – Summit, Colo.
Ify Agali – North Kansas City SNOW, Mo.
Brianna Vasquez – South Bay, Calif.