Tomorrow the Stanford 15s Invitational rounds up a sampling of the West Coast women’s colleges, serving as a mini-preview as to what the league season, due to kick off next weekend, will hold.
Many of the teams will be using the tournament as means to get their rookies some solid experience, but at some point during the two-day event, we’ll see lineups closer to the squads’ top 15 take the field. That’s host Stanford’s strategy.
“Our main goal this weekend is to get everyone minutes and experience,” Stanford coach Matt Sherman said. “For the most part we will be fielding a mix of newer and more experienced players, but at some point we hope to put our strongest team out so that they can begin to get some time together as well. As to the developing players [to watch out for], I think we will know more about that after this weekend.”
Stanford’s current CIPP roster is light, but a handful of returners promise some stellar performances. Prop Maxine Fonua played with the USA U20s during the July camp at Lake Placid’s Olympic Training Center, and she’ll give the Cardinal a nice punch up front. DI national championship flyhalf, Jamie Lawrence, is back to lead the attack, and she has speedy finishers like Michelle Teo and Smriti Sridhar returning to the back three.
Stanford start their day against St. Mary’s College, and will see fellow Pacific Mountain Conference (PMC) North opponent UC Davis. They’ll finish their day against PMC South’s UCLA during pool play on Saturday.
In pool B, California, Chico State, Oregon and DII’s Western Washington will battle on day one. Only Western Washington has contested any 15s league matches during the 2012-2013 season, and it’s safe to say the Flames are rebuilding. They’re typically Washington State’s biggest rival in the Cascade Conference, but opened up the fall with a 71-5 loss to WSU, followed by a 66-15 defeat at the hands of the University of Washington.
California played in a 7s-heavy fall season, and the dividends paid off at the national 7s championship. However, that meant less time focused on 15s, so we’ll see how that translates on the pitch.
Although 15s relies on more than standout individual athletes, a handful of players made a lasting impression during the 7s tournament in Texas. For Cal, Jenn Sever ran the show from the pack, and the All-American will do the same, as she has for the past couple of years, in 2013. Lizette Del Real also proved to an asset in the backfield, swallowing up ballcarriers and adding a bit of pace to the attack as well.
The Golden Bears are favored in this pool, and they’ll have a chance to weigh their progress since the 7s season ended against PMC North members Chico State and Oregon, who are always tough and apt to take an upset win.
On day two, the top two finishers from each pool will advance to the Cup finals, while the bottom two from each pool will play toward 5th place.
Stay tuned for day-of updates and a full report after the event.