Las Vegas - The USA finished on a high note, downing Canada A 26-7 for 5th place at the USA Women's International 7s Invitational. The two days of competition produced a 4-1 record.
"We came together really well in such a short period of time. Unfortunately, we weren't able to pull it off in the end," USA 7s Eagle Nathalie Marchino referred to yesterday's Netherlands loss, which ultimately kept the USA out of the semifinals. "We really wanted to make a point for ourselves today that we could compete at that higher tier, so to this way with a win is great."
The teams traded breakdown infringements early on, but a minute in, Marchino turned the corner of the developmental Canadian side and legged out 60 meters for the opening score, which Christy Ringgenberg converted, 7-0.
Canada answered with some nice attacking phases and was able to steal possession in the rucks. The had some continuity issues, as scrumhalf Katie Dowty struggled with some outlet passes and no-look passes put balls on the ground. But USA coach Ric Suggitt insisted that the Eagles up their tempo and hustle across the field. The player were tired, but on the last play of the half, Victoria Folayan, leading try scorer for the USA, skirted down the sideline for a 50-meter try in the corner, which Ringgenberg expertly converted, 14-0.
The second half opened with a beautiful kickoff from Ringgenberg, which pinned Canada A deep in its territory. Canada's defense was tough, however, and the Eagles started to take the ball into contact too often. After a couple of drives toward the try line, Ringgenberg zipped it out wide to Amelia Villines. "Cut her with a bad knife!" Suggitt yelled from the sideline as Villines worked the soft defense into the try zone. Ringgenberg converted, 21-0.
Canada B prevented the shutout when the American defense started to pinch in on the ball carriers, which opened up a lane out wide for the Canadians to score and convert, 21-7.
"You don't have the corner as much as you think on defense," Marchino noted the differences between playing wing in 15s and 7s. "Against the Netherlands, we were a little tentative on the outside, gave them too much space, and they took advantage of it. It's a huge adjustment for the girls who play on the wing in 15s - we have the sideline with us. That was a brutal lesson, but we learned it."
An influx of fresh legs in Tyra McGrady, Sadie Anderson and Katie Lorenz gave the USA the last push it needed. With no time on the clock, the Eagles received a penalty near the 40 meter, where Ringgenberg lined up to kick to touch. Suggitt instructed the team to run it, so the ball worked out to Lorenz on the opposite side of the pitch. Lorenz held her defender just long enough to set up McGrady outside her, and the power wing outran her opposite to the corner, 26-7.
"I'm really proud of the way the team," Marchino said. "In four days, we learned the fundamentals of 7s."
"It was great to have Christy here especially since she's been playing 7s for so long," Marchino said of her first foray into international 7s. "She has the knowledge, is so level headed, and always has really constructive criticism for everyone. And then I have been playing with Vix [Folayan] for so long, and we understand each other. It was difficult for us because the timing is really different and I wasn't able to set her up as much as I wanted. But it's easier to play with people you're familiar with at this level."
Marchino and Folayan combined for the majority of the tries during the tournament, and look to be promising additions to the developing USA team.