Boston finished runner-up to New York in the Atlantic North and takes the second seed out of the region to the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship. It marks the New England team’s fourth trip to the culminating tournament, which takes place Aug. 10-11 in Kansas City, Mo. All games will be live-streamed on FloRugby.com.
Dee Nash is Boston’s player-coach and brings a wealth of leadership to the position. The veteran has not only served as the Northeast Academy captain on tour but recently featured as the DI/DII Club All-Star’s flyhalf at last week’s Women’s All-Star Week, where the select side finished third overall.
“This year’s squad is a fun balance of valuable, experienced players and talented, young players still fresh from their high school and college programs here in Massachusetts,” Nash surveyed the player pool. “Our more experienced group includes five players that have been with Boston for all four of our 7s Nationals runs: Myself, Paige Stathopoulos, Gravy [Lisa] Van Eerde, Stacey Markovic and Marge Reiss.”
The quintet is the foundation of the team’s success and has represented the Northeast Academy in the recent past. Stathopoulos was also in Greeley, Colo., last weekend and this competitive season represented the USA Falcons in Japan.
The younger class integrated during the Atlantic North circuit and area tournaments, and got good tests out of New York and Beantown. Stonehill College’s Hannah Mackay is a known entity and the power player has also competed on the Wolfpack’s top side. Emma Santosuosso graduated from Bentley University last year and heads to a second-straight 7s nationals with Boston. Isabel Haber graduated from DI Northeastern this spring and is settling into the senior ranks. The youngest member is Gabby Viale, who led Belmont High School (where Nash is an assistant coach) to the Massachusetts state championship as senior captain.
“As for our style of play, it isn’t defined by any individual player but does play to a few of our strengths as a group,” Nash explained. “It should allow us to be more patient and in control of the tempo of the game instead of allowing our opponent to dictate that.”
The team has welcomed guest coaches in Michael Bozza, Thomas Clark and Kristi Kirshe, who stunned the club 7s field in her first appearance at nationals last year. The rugby newcomer quickly landed a USA 7s contract and most recently served as Team USA co-captain at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
“We’re definitely prepared for Kansas City,” Nash asserted. “We’ve been able to work out some of the kinks in training over the last few weeks with the help of some of our guest coaches … and that should really boost our confidence going in.”
Boston features in Pool D and will play ARPTC Blue (10:40 a.m. CDT), Life West (2 p.m.) and the Chicago Lions (5 p.m.) on Saturday. The top two teams will move onto the Cup quarterfinals, and the bottom two onto Bowl quarterfinals on Sunday.
“Our ultimate goal is to come in hot on the first day of play,” the player-coach concluded. “In years past we’ve struggled in pool play, whether it be stress, nerves, or just luck of the draw. This year we’d really like to show up on that first day, play to our strengths, and end up in the top half of the bracket then roll into day two with the wind at our backs.”