England won the U20 Tri-Nations last week at Loughborough University, defeating Canada and the United States en route to the title. The junior Eagles brought 26 players to England for the two-test series and lost 62-0 to the host and 24-7 to Canada. USA U20 head coach Ricardo Ramirez reflected on the tour, the adjustments that occurred, and the standout performances in the international arena.
TRB: What stands out about the game against England – both in where the USA contended well and where there were gaps?
RAMIREZ: We knew England was going to be a very talented side coming in to the match. Being our first match together we ran into some issues stringing our strengths together and England took advantage of every opportunity. We [had] 14 players that cut their teeth on this tour when it comes to international play. As the game progressed we saw the player adjust to the type of play and elevate themselves. On both sides we were able to get some good go forward as well as creating some good pressure and solid collisions.
TRB: What info / lessons came out of that match and how were they applied against Canada?
RAMIREZ: The big takeaway from England was being able to see our strengths and fixes at the level. We had some trouble finding a rhythm which naturally corrected itself as we played more. The adjustments weren’t necessarily anything more than finding a good footing and sticking to the idea of “just play rugby” and for players to show their strengths.
TRB: Did the team make the improvements / reach goals that you and the players set for the second test?
RAMIREZ: The team made big strides in the second match and provided some exciting play. They created a good number of big line breaks and opportunities.
TRB: Anyone put in standout performances or make big strides during tour?
RAMIREZ: Erica Jarrell [Harvard, lock] and Elizabeth Wilson [NOVA, strongside flanker] really put in the work for us over the tour. Liz was dominant at the contact area and seemed to be everywhere on the field the entire time. Erica also turned in a solid defensive tour but also created several big breaks.
Darina Roe [Penn State, flyhalf] did a great job directing from 10 and provided an additional weapon with her kicking game. Against Canada she continually found space in the defense and moved us forward with it.
Allison Koenig [Quinnipiac, fullback] had sure hands at 15 and fielded every high ball and countered very well in both games. Against England Allison did a great job of reading tendencies and their kicker and took away their kicking game.
Morgan Freeman [Lindenwood, inside center] did a great job of sliding into the backline and creating go-forward in the center of the field consistently, and Saher Hamdan [Notre Dame College, hooker] really showcased her work rate and footwork to help us go forward. Tori Jones [University of Notre Dame, tighthead prop) also did well adjusting to the front row and provided a strong defensive week.
USA U20 TOUR ROSTER
Tiana A’au – Prop, Central Washington Univ.
Tiara A’au – Prop, Central Washington Univ.
Ubaida Ahmed – Wing, Mount St. Mary’s Univ.
Kapoina Bailey – Back Row, Kona High School
Cassidy Bargell – Scrumhalf, Harvard Univ.
Megan Bird – Back 3, Davenport Univ.
Paige Fallon – Back Row, Life Univ.
Gio Ferguson Lewis – Back Row, West Point Academy
Morgan Freeman – Utility, Lindenwood Univ.
Natalie Gray – Second Row, Lindenwood Univ.
Sophia Haley – Back Row, Dartmouth College
Saher Hamdan – Hooker, Notre Dame College
Erica Jarrell – Second Row, Harvard Univ.
Tori Jones – Prop, Univ. Notre Dame
Allison Koenig – Flyhalf/Back 3, Quinnipiac Univ.
Clara Lemal-Brown – Wing, Quinnipiac Univ.
Matalasi Morrissette – Flyhalf/Center, Brigham Young Univ.
Mary Jane Pasioles – Scrumhalf, Central Washington Univ.
Marin Pennell – Back Row, Dartmouth College
Karissa Postula – Center, ORSU
Darina Roe – Flyhalf, Pennsylvania State Univ.
Joannah Skucek – Prop, Lindenwood Univ.
Samantha Tancredi – Second Row, Lindenwood Univ.
Nohea Uluave – Center, Lindenwood Univ.
Elizabeth Wilson – Back Row, NOVA
Glory Woolley – Flanker, Oklahoma State
USA U20 STAFF
Head Coach | Ricardo RamirezAssistant Coach | Emily RecordAssistant Coach | Craig WilsonPhysical Performance | Sylvia BraatenAthletic Trainer | Diane Watanabe Team Manger | Anna Kunkel