The Women’s Collegiate All Americans (WCAA) will tour France from November 22 – December 2. This age grade (formerly the USA U23s) doesn’t play much international competition, despite being the feeder to the senior level. The WCAAs play in domestic championships, and hold camps at home, but they aren’t fortunate enough to have an event like the U20 or senior Nations Cup, when teams like England, South Africa and Canada participate.
In other words, this tour to France is exciting, and we want to know more. Unfortunately, with no official word on the tour or the squad, we had to do some digging. We started with the roster from the WCAAs’ game against Twin Cities in August (see amazing photos from Ryan Siverson), checked the program’s fundraising page for players who announced their selection there, and received personal confirmation from individuals. Yes, it would be easier to wait until the list is officially announced, and when it is, we’ll do a more detailed look into the squad itself. But even a general idea of selections has produced some interesting notes.
Finally, it’s important to realize that these players – college students and recent grads – must raise a significant amount of money in order to travel and could use all the publicity they can garner (individual fundraising pages linked below).
Currently, Norwich University is sending the most representatives, as Baylee Annis, Joya Clark and Ally Day join the tour. Sending three Cadets is an appropriate number, considering Norwich is the second-best DI college in the country; however, it does highlight some discord with the WCAA team that was named for the 2012-2013 season, a list that was announced in late September 2013. Of the 32 spots between the first and second DI All American teams, only one belonged to Norwich (Annis, who coincidentally wasn’t one of NU coach Austin Hall’s nominations but still made it onto the list).
Conversely, Penn State finds itself in the reverse scenario. The defending DI college champ had five named to the first and second All American teams, but at least two of their players have had to refuse their invitations to the November tour. Elena Cantorna has been nursing a stress fracture since the start of the fall season. The senior was named to the Eagle pool that will supply the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, so Cantorna has some bigger adventures on the line.
Fellow scrumhalf BrieAnna Barto is also out, and her omission highlights another conflict. Barto had committed to play for Penn State at the College 7s Championship before selections for tour had been announced. Unfortunately, the national championship is being held Nov. 22-23 in Greensboro, N.C. Barto had to make a difficult decision and she went with her alma mater. Why isn’t Norwich, the two-time defending 7s champion, in the same boat? The Cadets are competing in ACRA (new league contesting 15s championships in the fall) and are unsure whether they’ll be invited to USA Rugby’s 7s championship, so there was no need to hinge the tour-selectees’ plans to uncertainty.
We’re really excited to see how a sample of recent graduates will elevate play, presuming they’ve all accepted their invitations to tour. Jenn Sever went from Cal star to an integral member of the Berkeley All Blues’ 7s team, which won the club 7s championship this summer. Sever has continued to impress during the Women’s Premier League fall season. Same goes for Mel Krug and Jacie Vonada, who are among the most influential newcomers on Twin Cities’ conference-leading squad. Aoibheann Cline has entered her second fall season with DII champions Pittsburgh, and the flanker won MVP during last year’s title run. Debbie Stenoien is still playing for the University of Minnesota, but she’s been booting up with the Youngbloodz during summer 7s and fit right in with the all-star team. Boston College grad Lily White would have made an excellent addition, having played summer 7s with NOVA and then getting the start at flanker with WPL’s Beantown, but she recently tore her ACL and had to return her invitation.
There was a possibility that Washington State’s Megan Bonny and BYU’s Rebekah Siebach would be included in the recent grad bunch, but both were contracted into the USA 7s program this summer, so it’s unlikely that they’ll depart during the run-up to Dubai 7s (Nov. 28-30).
That covers the majority of well-known players (save Monica Jackson and Grace Hovde), but there are some eligible All Americans who we’d love to fill those last few spots: Erin Overcash, who played for the Eagle 15s over the summer but didn’t make the WRWC pool cut; Stanford’s Aly Gleason, who stole the show at No. 8 during last year’s DI nationals; Hannah Lockwood, longtime age-grade flyhalf who is now playing for San Diego; and tall, agile forward Erika Pedersen, who would likely have issues going on tour due to Naval Academy obligations.
Hopefully those questions will be answered shortly.
UNOFFICIAL (21 of 26) – WCAA tour to France (Nov. 22-Dec. 2)
Ally Day - Norwich
Aoibheann Cline - Humboldt State (now Pittsburgh)
Ariel Johnson - West Chester University
Aubrey Huey - Cal
Bailey Johnson - St. Cloud State
Baylee Annis - Norwich
Cheryl Johnson - West Chester University
Debbie Stenoien - Univ. Minnesota
Grace Hovde - Univ. Wisconsin-Madison
Jacie Vonada - South Dakota State (Twin Cities Amazons)
Jenn Sever - Cal (Berkeley All Blues)
Joya Clark - Norwich
Kate Kloster - St. Mary's College of Md.
Kristen Thomas - Central Florida
Leslie Ota - Fordham
Lyndsie White - Appalachian State
Mel Krug - Univ. Minnesota-Twin Cities (Twin Cities Amazons)
Monica Jackson - Women's Cougar Rugby (at-large)
Sam Starta - Army
Shannon Steele - Central Florida
Stephanie Goetz - James Madison