The USA Women Junior All Americans (WJAAs) have named their starting lineup against the Canada U20s, the first match at the U20 Nations Cup in England. Tomorrow’s game will be the first of four for the Americans, followed by matches against South Africa and host England, and then the placing match on July 21.
Penn State dominates the lineup, as all six Nittany Lions on tour make the top 15 (Gabriella Cantorna of State College High School is an incoming freshman this fall). Meya Bizer at fullback is arguably the most prolific of the Penn Staters, having enjoyed a busy 2013 with the senior 7s and 15s teams, while Hope Rogers has also debuted for the 15s Eagles against France this June. Flanker Elizabeth “Bitsy” Cairns is the field captain for the match, and will be surrounded by familiar faces in Danielle Ciocco, Kelsey Harris and Brianna Troyer.
Vice captain and flyhalf Anne Peterson has also notched international caps. The Washington State star and Tanzania native sprung onto the scene in 2013, and caught the eye of Women’s National Team coach Pete Steinberg. She was fast-tracked through the system and played in the centers against Les Bleus this June. Quinnipiac’s Natalie Kosko can claim similar fame. The former gymnast is one of the most exciting new faces in crossover athletes, and she played under USA 7s coach Ric Suggitt during the Las Vegas Invitational earlier this year.
The lineup will also be grounded in the solid experience of Stanford's Maxine Fonua, an exciting prop who is as strong as she is elusive; Clemson’s Hannah Price, who comes out of Karl Barth’s workshop at Summitt High School in Colorado; and Women Cougar Rugby’s Jordan Gray, a Canadian who’s been playing since her freshman year in high school.
One might be tempted to classify the high schoolers as vulnerable experience wise, but this lineup showcases some of the country’s brightest talent. Recent grads Cassidy Meyers (Kent High School) and Megan Pinson (Fallbrook High School) are veterans of the age-grade circuit, and both will continue their rugby educations at American International College on scholarship this fall. Meyers has been training in the senior national pool for more than a year, and Pinson has trained alongside USA 7s players at Chula Vista camps. The two were last seen duking out the high school National Invitational Tournament (NIT) championship in mid-May.
Maggie Myles was also at the NIT, and was at the core of West Carroll’s success. She’s fast, likes to kick, and will slot in nicely at wing. Nicole Heavirland at inside center is one of the newer faces poised to take the field tomorrow. She’s coming from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, but her roots are from Montana, and basketball.
At the last U20 Nations Cup in 2011, the USA finished second to England, who cruised through the competition and were virtually untouchable. Tomorrow’s game against Canada will kick off at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Starting Lineup vs Canada – U20 Nations Cup
- Maxine Fonua (Stanford)
- Danielle Ciocco (Penn State)
- Hope Rogers (Penn State)
- Hannah Price (Clemson)
- Megan Pinson (Fallbrook High School)
- Kelsey Harris (Penn State)
- Elizabeth Cairns (Penn State, field captain)
- Jordan Gray (Women’s Cougar Rugby)
- Cassidy Meyers (Kent High School)
- Anne Peterson (Washington State, vice captain)
- Natalie Kosko (Quinnipiac)
- Nicole Heavirland (Exeter High School)
- Brianna Troyer (Penn State)
- Maggie Myles (West Carroll)
- Meya Bizer (Penn State)