USA Women’s U23s Head Coach Katie Dowty has named the 28 players who will convene in Quincy, Mass., for a two-game series with Canada’s U20s. Hosted by the New England Free Jacks, the junior national teams will meet inside Veterans Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, July 26 (7 p.m. ET) and Sunday, July 30 (12 p.m. ET). Tickets are now available, and both games will be live-streamed for free on The Rugby Network. [Lead photo: Photo: Brasil Rugby]
The USA U23s started the summer with a trip to Brazil and won the Rugby Americas Trophy against two senior national teams (“Dowty: They Put the Rugby World on Notice“). Twenty-one of those players who featured in South America have returned to the Border Battle series, and many continued to stay active in the USA Pathways programs in July.
“This squad is full of hungry young players who will feature in the upcoming World Cups,” Dowty told USA Rugby. “Several have already made their debuts on the senior squad, with 10 attending the recent top 40 camp, six who featured in the PAC4, and four who led the U20s. For those veteran players, it will be key to bring their learnings and leadership from those events into this next opportunity. Eti Haungatau had a stand out performance in the last World Cup, and this will be a wonderful chance for her to express herself and lead our next generation of Eagles.
Tiahna Padilla, Olivia Woods and Reece Woods have played or trained at the U20, U23 and Women’s National Team (WNT) levels this summer. After the Pacific Four prep camp in Canada, they immediately joined the USA U20s for matches against Wales and Canada – which the Americans won (“Bonnaud: The Work is Paying Off“) – and now are back with the U23s.
Meanwhile, Paluvava’u Freda Tafuna, Taina Tukuafu and Mona Tupou earned their first USA caps on the Pacific Four tour in Canada. Senior Eagles Keia Mae Sagapolu and Rugby World Cup vet Eti Haungatau also competed in Ottawa and will certainly be hubs of leadership in Massachusetts.
There was also the U23 All-Star 15s Championship in late June, and that venue allowed coach Dowty to dig deeper into the nationwide player pool.
“We’re also injecting newly identified talent from the recent U23 All-Star tournament,” the coach said. “Mikaela Hall (Queens, prop) and Lewanda Aspinall (BYU, flanker) are new faces who we expect could make a big impact. The progress of several returning age grade players – Malia Isaacs, Matalasi Morissette, Sayler Russell and Tua Tanupo – has also been a great outcome of the All-Star tournament.”
Leila Opeti is the seventh newcomer from Brazil, but is not new to the USA Pathways. The Life West player stays busy on the 7s and 15s circuits, and is used to playing up.
USA Women’s U23s Traveling Roster | 2023 Border Battle
|Susan Adegoke||Life Univ|
|Lewanda Aspinall||Brigham Young Univ|
|Kapoina Bailey||Lindenwood Univ|
|Kristin Bitter||Dartmouth College|
|Samantha Brackett||Rhinos Academy|
|Alyssa Cunningham||Sacred Heart Univ|
|Lauren Ferridge||Dartmouth College|
|Mikaela Hall||Queens Univ of Charotte|
|Tessa Hann||Central Washington Univ|
|Eti Haungatau||Sale Sharks|
|Malia Isaacs||Harvard Univ|
|Alivia Leatherman||Notre Dame College|
|Autumn LoCicero||Life Univ|
|Matalasi Morrissette||Utah Peaks|
|Leila Opeti||Life West|
|Tiahna Padilla||Harvard Univ|
|Sayler Russell||Long Island Univ|
|Keia Mae Sagapolu||Central Washington Univ|
|Freda Tafuna||Lindenwood Univ|
|Tua Tanupo||Las Vegas|
|Queenette Toomalatai||Rhinos Academy|
|Taina Tukuafu||Lindenwood Univ|
|Mona Tupou||EPA Lady Razorbacks|
|Anna Van Dyk||Quinnipiac Univ|
|Sereana Vulaono||Chicago Lions|
|Alex Wantlin||Life University|
|Reece Woods||Eagle HS, Idaho|
|Olivia Woods||Eagle HS, Idaho|