The Women's Club 7s Championship was a bittersweet experience for Dana Creager. The longtime NOVA fixture and former Eagle 7s player ran the inaugural club 7s invitational two years ago in San Francisco, and returned to Treasure Island for the first USA Rugby-sanctioned event last weekend.
“I had no idea where it would go,” Creager reflected on the 2009 event. “I’m very excited that USA Rugby picked it up this year and even more excited that the level of 7s play is increasing throughout the country. There were a lot of outstanding athletes and coaches involved in the tournament this year, and it was great to watch. Berkeley was outstanding in the final!”
And NOVA was nearly outstanding. After pool play last Saturday, the team put in a convincing case for tournament favorites. NOVA was the only team to exit pool play undeafeated (4-0), a feat that included wins over eventual finalists Berkeley and Boston Belles.
“We went all day Saturday only getting scored on once and feeling pretty confident in each of our games,” Creager said. “We were very excited going into Sunday.”
On day two, 7s Eagle Lauren Hoeck led with two tries in her team’s 19-5 quarterfinal win over the Atlanta Harlequins. Meanwhile, the Boston Belles blanked last year’s finalist, San Diego, 7-0 in their first knock-out game.
“When we met the Belles again in the semifinals, we never got into our game plan,” Creager said. “I'm still trying to figure out what happened, but we didn't play as a team. The Belles took advantage of every mistake and turned them into tries.”
The Belles defeated NOVA 17-7 for the final’s berth, while NOVA had to sate itself with an opportunity for third.
“I was worried about the team getting ‘up’ for playing the Furies for third place,” Creager said. “We play them almost every weekend, all summer, and after our big loss, I wasn't sure how the team would react. Luckily, after a slow start, we were able to pull it together and finish the tournament playing as a team and with another win.
Tries from Monique McQueen and CJ Hildreth (pictured above), and Beth Black's conversion were enough to lift NOVA 12-5 over DC.
“We were obviously disappointed when we lost on Sunday,” Creager added. “But it's hard to be upset about a 6-1 finish for the weekend - the best of the tournament - but we didn't win when it counted.”
NOVA didn’t hang their heads for long, and one can assume that they’re already thinking about summer 2012.
“Six of the NOVA girls will be playing for MARFU at the National All Star Championship,” Creager said in the next breath. “I think the loss this weekend will be motivation for them to come out and play even harder in Chula Vista at the end of August!”