The San Diego Surfers are the Women’s Club 7s Champion, defeating the Seattle Breakers 33-12.
San Diego claimed their first title in true champion form. Having rebounded from a 2-1 pool play performance, when the D.C. Furies served the team their one and only loss, the Surfers started the playoffs with a 10-5 sudden-death, overtime win against last year’s winner, Berkeley. The Surfers cruised past the Youngbloodz with a 19-5 win in the semis, setting up a title match against Seattle, which had battled past the Mudhens (19-12) and NOVA 1 (12-5) for the finals’ berth.
A point differential of 21 in a 20-minute 7s game makes an impression, but to put into perspective what San Diego actually accomplished, the Surfers trailed 12-7 heading into halftime. So they didn’t just rally from a deficit, shift into second great, but held their opponents scoreless in the second half during the process.
The first try came out of the Seattle camp. The Breakers had an edge in size wise – bigger players like Parisa Asgharzadeh and Asinate Serevi who could also move, and juke and sprint. The pair routinely tied up a handful of defenders and that power allowed Seattle to stage the first tryline threat. Seattle drew a penalty on the five meter and a quick, Carrie White/Megan Sanders switch, followed by some nifty footwork, put the center over for the try. White slotted the extras for the 7-0 lead.
Seattle botched the subsequent kickoff, awarding San Diego a free kick from midway. Shortly afterward a scrum inside the Breakers’ 22 meter resulted in another free kick that scrumhalf Val Griffith sent wide. Center Ryan Carlyle and wing Hannah Lopez teamed up on the outside, with the former looping her pass, and the latter getting off an over-the-head pass through two defenders. Griffith nailed the conversion for the tie.
Seattle’s go-ahead try was a little controversial, in that Katie Lorenz drew a penalty when there was no ruck formed over an open ball. A quick tap and drive toward the line saw Erica Black dive over for the 12-7 lead.
The turning point occurred early in the second half and saw the Surfers answer with 26 unanswered points. The first of MVP Emilie Bydwell’s two tries kicked off the scoring spree. She hit the gainline on a great angle, at full pace, and pierced right through the line. One fend on White and she was into the try zone. Griffeth hit the conversion for the 14-12 lead.
“All season we’ve been really good about getting up after we’ve been scored upon,” Bydwell said. “That try that put us up two points really turned it around for us. We hadn’t seen them at all; we didn’t know what to expect. We needed a little bit of time to figure them out, get into, and once we had our lead, we were set.”
Seattle was by no means out of the race, but Katie Lorenz made sure to squash those hopes. Almost immediately after Bydwell’s try, the hooker ran in an intercept try from midway, and with Griffith’s third conversion, the Surfers pulled ahead 21-12.
The Breakers pulled up to an extent. They weren’t hitting the line with the same exuberance, and passes weren’t connecting. They made life difficult for themselves, and then star center Sanders went down untouched on a breakaway. She was later hauled off the field but early indications point to a knee injury.
Bydwell’s second try came from a 50-meter breakaway and replacement Mollie Martin tacked on a five-pointer to win the game 33-12.
“It just felt like this was the year,” Bydwell said. “It just feels really right. All the people who are relatively new – me, Katie, Ryan – we feel really lucky to be here.”
San Diego 33
Tries: Bydwell 2, Carlyle, Lorenz, Martin
Conversions: Griffeth 4
Tries: Sanders 2