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HS Zons Return to NITs

  • 07 May 2019

The National Invitational Tournament (NIT) as a whole is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Sacramento is one of the only active teams with double-digit appearances in the annual event. When the competition split in two, the Amazons won that first High School Club NIT trophy in 2016. After a year’s hiatus, the NorCal squad is back in the mix and traveling to Salt Lake City for the May 17-18 tournament.

There are 25 players on this year’s roster but the team is young, according to Sacramento head coach David Tausinga. The team relies on its four seniors – Aly Namosimalua, Tapaita Manoa, Heavani Tupou and Valerie Diaz – to set the standard. Salote Tausinga is typically in this leadership group, but the age-grade Eagle is recovering from surgery and is unable to compete at NITs.

The seniors will lead the on-pitch performance, but watch for younger players like Malia Mailangi, Longosai Tausinga (younger sister of Salote Tausinga), Hengalele Koniseti and freshman Nadeline Schaaf to distinguish themselves in that hard-hitting, offload style that has typified the Amazons for years.

The spring season however has been a difficult one in terms of building momentum.

“I think all of NorCal had a hard time with scheduling games due the unpredictable weather,” Tausinga explained, “but we always have great competition with Pleasanton and Land Park.”

After a forfeit win against Northgate, Sacramento beat Mother Lode 38-0 and Gridley 50-15 during the regular season. The Cavaliers and Harlequins won their games against the Amazons, posting 33-5 and 17-5 victories, respectively. Fortunately, Lamorinda and Pleasanton host the NorCal Invitational, which lured SoCal teams South Bay and Fallbrook to the region.

“The Norcal Invitational always brings good intel into what to expect at [NITs],” Tausinga considered the tournament’s value. “Fallbrook gave us a really good look at what we need to work on and the level of rugby we expect to see at [NITs]. Several of our players have never been to [NITs].”

The Warriors won that match 25-0, and then Sacramento beat Lamorinda 24-7. Day two of the invitational did not go as planned, and only South Bay and Fallbrook played on Sunday (Spartans won 17-5). Both SoCal finalists will be present in Murray, Utah, and competing in Division I of the HS Club NIT. Local favorites United, single-school NIT champion Kahuku, NorCal teams, among others will diversify the talent on display.

“We’re excited about our return to NIT. Utah is a great location for our team to travel to,” Tausinga concluded. “We are expecting to compete and give our players exposure to college recruiters and USA Rugby.”

The tournament runs Friday-Saturday, May 17-18, and the final will be held at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.

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