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Life West Banking 7s Titles

  • 17 Jul 2019

Northern California will contest its second club 7s qualifier this weekend in San Jose, and then the top-three teams will advance to the July 27 Pacific North 7s Championship on Treasure Island, San Francisco. The Competitive Region (CR) tournament, which integrates the Pacific Northwest’s top teams, will afford three seeds to the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship on Aug. 10-11 in Columbia, Mo.

Life West won the first NorCal qualifier (see Alex Ho’s photos) and added tournament titles in Marin, Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara.

“We have been looking forward to playing this summer for a long time,” Life West 7s coach Adriaan Ferris referenced the light spring 15s season due to the program’s impending debut in the Women’s Premier League. “Normally the summer represents the end of a long fall-winter-spring [15s] season, so it has been refreshing to have the players come into the 7s season with a much needed off-season.”

That desire to compete pairs well with a big group of returners – so much so that when Amy Talei Naber, Elizabeth Cairns, Nicole Strasko, Neariah Persinger and Catie Benson relocated to Chula Vista for the Women’s Super Series, the talented depth kept the team winning.

“Our 7s squad is similar to last year’s team so that allows for good continuity,” Ferris noted. “This weekend sees the return of the Eagles who were involved in the recent Super Series. All players need to participate in two tournaments to be eligible to play at nationals so we need to integrate those returning players into the team.”

Life West has also gained elite athletes in Hope Rogers, a USA 7s and 15s Eagle, as well as Karmin Macedo, Mexico 7s player and former Lindenwood University assistant coach.

As for competition, Berkeley has been Life West’s best local opponent, while San Francisco Golden Gate is third in the NorCal standings.

“It is a credit to the All Blues coaching staff to see them grow as a team,” Ferris lauded. “Irene Gardner and Lucy Croy have done a great job developing their squad over the past two years. I expect Berkeley to perform well at regionals and nationals.”

But the best test came last weekend in southern California, and the coach pointed to strong performances from Nikki Kenyon, Leti Hingano and Sara Parsons in leading the team to a difficult first-place finish.

“The Santa Barbara tournament was by far the most competitive with Berkeley, San Diego Surfers and Santa Barbara Academy all competing,” Ferris asserted. “We were lucky to win the semifinal against Berkeley. It was a tough, defense-focused game. Leti Hingano broke a tackle at the death to score the match-winner. We had a strong performance against San Diego in the final but we know we have a lot to work on before regionals.

“Although we did not get to play them, the Santa Barbara Academy look a well coached outfit also, with former Olympian and U.S. Eagle Kelly Griffin operating as a player/coach,” the coach praised.

There are just three more weekends for summer 7s, and then it’s an immediate start to Life West’s first Women’s Premier League season. The Gladiatrix defeated 10th-place D.C. Furies in a November challenge match, and the victory secured the Hayward-based team’s spot in the 2019 season.

“Out of necessity, we have combined our WPL and 7s practices,” Ferris explained. “All players have been working with S&C Coach Tim Stanfill for the first 45 minutes of the session before we split into 7s- or WPL-focused training groups.”

The WPL season begins August 17, the weekend after club 7s nationals.

TRB will be on-site for the Pacific North Club 7s Championship so stayed tuned for live coverage.

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