The Women’s Club 7s National Championship kicks off this Saturday in San Francisco on Treasure Island. Below is a preview of Pool C:
Pool C: #1 NOVA 1, #2 Berkeley, #3 Belmont Shore, #4 Falcons
One of the best games of the day should occur between top-seeded NOVA 1 and Berkeley. NOVA is a contender every year, but we think they have a particularly good shot at the title this summer. The club has entered two separately CIPPed sides into the competition, which is not only a testament to the club’s popularity, but also allowed the first side to focus their attention on each other, since there was no movement in the player pool.
NOVA 1 is led by current 7s Eagles Lauren Hoeck, Beth Black (both captains) and Erica Cavanaugh. They’re joined by veterans Meganne Atkins, Rachel Primo, Monique McQueen and Megan Hanson, all of whom have a ton of nationals’ experience. No summer-only players here, the squad works very well with each other, as seen in their four tournament titles this summer (Ruggerama, Pick 7s, Delaware 7s and Cape Fear 7s), not including the MARFU championship.
NOVA 1 will face the reigning champs, Berkeley, in their final pool match of the day. The All Blues enter the competition as the Pacific Coast’s second seed, having lost to Seattle 24-14 in the title match. It wasn’t the first loss that Berkeley experienced this summer, however. After traveling to Dallas to shutout the competition at the Ruckstar 7s, and then hosting/winning their own tournament, the All Blues lost to San Diego during the Denver 7s final.
A couple losses for the powerhouse might not be a bad thing. Berkeley dominates its local competition – which is why they took a couple of trips to the West – and sometimes that can lead to complacency. The All Blues know they’re not invincible, and the last couple of weeks have been spent getting their star-studded roster working in unison.
The All Blues have one of the most well known lineups in the competition, with players like Nathalie Marchino, Vix Folayan, Phoebe Boone and Irene Gardner decorating the roster. Lucy Croy, Jill Whitfield, Alex Boskovich and Sarah Davis have also developed into fine 7s players and provide an extra layer of veteran leadership. Young players like Alyssa Baccarella and Cynthia Wright are welcome additions to the seasoned squad, and will be key, fresh legs off the bench.
NOVA 1 and Berkeley will undoubtedly move onto the Cup quarterfinals, while Belmont Shore and the Falcons will compete for the Bowl on Sunday.
We think the Falcons are the stronger of the two teams. The Falcons are a Boston-area team of college all stars, coming mostly from Boston University and Bentley College. They finished third at the Northeast Championship behind the Boston Belles and New York, whose forfeit allowed the team to book their trip to San Francisco. Their most notable player is Miranda Wakimoto, who played flyhalf for the USA U20s during last year’s Nations Cup.
What the Falcons lack in experience, they make up for in fitness and tenacity. Although there was a big divide between the Belles, New York and the rest of the NRU field, the Falcons held New York to a try in the first half of their semifinal before the eventual finalist piled on 30 points.
One thing the Falcons have over Belmont Shore is a diversity of opponents. Being from Boston, the all-star squad has played a myriad of opponents over the course of the summer, testing themselves against different styles of 7s and adjusting accordingly. Belmont Shore doesn’t have that luxury per se. Southern California at best had four teams vying for the two seeds to nationals, and there were only two qualifiers deciding who advanced.
Belmont Shore saw San Diego in the finals of the Santa Monica 7s and Sunsplash 7s, losing both. One of the most interesting aspects of Belmont Shore’s roster is the fact that two Fallbrook High School players have made the cut. And not just any Fallbrook players – Girls’ National High School Championship MVP Megan Pinson, HS championship leading try-scorer Casey Karl, and scrumhalf Irayda Macedo. They’re hallmarks of 7s’ diffusion through the age grades and are joined by fellow high schoolers Asinate Serevi on Seattle and Emily Fullbrook on NOVA 2.
We’re giving the edge to the Falcons in this match-up but expect it a good game.
Saturday Pool Play
1020 - NOVA 1 v Falcons
1040 - Belmont Shore v Berkeley
1320 - NOVA 1 V Belmont Shore
1340 - Berkeley v Falcons
1620 - NOVA 1 v Berkeley
1640 - Belmont Shore v Falcons
|POOL C ROSTERS
|Mary Carol Anderson
photo: NOVA 1 (purple) headlines pool C.
Pool A Preview
Pool B Preview
Pool D Preview