The battle for dominance in the Mid-Atlantic region continued this weekend, as the D.C. Furies and NOVA 1 duked out the Pick 7s final. The title bout was previewed the previous weekend during the Lehigh Valley 7s, when NOVA 1 defeated the Furies 7-0 in the semifinals. But the Furies got their revenge Saturday, pulling away in the second half for the 27-7 victory over their rivals.
D.C.’s trip to the final began with shutout wins against the Maryland Exiles and NOVA 2 during pool play. The local side then topped Philadelphia in the semifinals, averaging five tries per victory. On the other side, NOVA bettered Scion and Philly in pool play, and then advanced to the final with a semifinal victory over NOVA 2.
D.C. got the scoring going in the opening minutes of the final, as Sharifa Love-Schnur dotted down in the corner. NOVA answered quickly, as 7s Eagle Beth Black broke through the line 20 meters out for the score. Fellow 7s Eagle Lauren Hoeck made the impressive conversion from 10 meters off the sideline for the 7-5 lead.
As it turned out, those were the only points that NOVA would log, and D.C. retook the lead for good with a Jaime Albarelli try out wide, 10-7. D.C. had another chance to score before halftime, making good use of a penalty approximately 15 meters out from NOVA’s tryline. D.C. retrained possession for two minutes past regulation (halves were 10 minutes long), but NOVA’s defense was impenetrable and there the half ended.
The second half was a different story. The Furies dominated possession, which allowed Jeanna Beard to score twice and Albarelli to get her second try of the final. Jessica Shipley added the conversion.
“We were very happy with the win, both because it gave us four points toward MARFU playoffs, but also because it is our first win against an excellent NOVA side in several years,” Furies scrumhalf Eli White said. “We saw great improvement in our play throughout the day, and I was really happy that we were able to maintain our skill level and fitness through a very long, hard-fought final.”
“This week we didn't get the job done,” NOVA captain Meganne Atkins said. “They played a great game against us, and we didn't put forth our best effort, but you can't take anything away from them, they earned the win. In my opinion, that's what is so great about 7s, if you don't play your best, you can lose any given match. We know the Furies very well and we know their style of play, just like they know ours, and we will look at the game tape and see what went wrong and work to fix it.
"We have a lot of new, young players on our team, and we are working to develop them and get them ready for nationals, which is what we are building towards and that is when we are aiming to peak," Atkins added. "While we hate to lose any match, in the long run this will help us. It's hard to learn much from winning, and we will get get more out of this loss -- it will force us to bear down and work that much harder at training and on Saturdays."
MARFU is already out in front of the field in terms of preparation and will once again see three teams – NOVA 1, NOVA 2 and Philadelphia – from last year’s club 7s championship at this weekend’s Ruggerama 7s.
“We really benefit from getting to play such quality sides frequently through the summer,” White added, “especially since other territories don't have that opportunity for consistent high-level matches.”
The MARFU series continues this weekend at NOVA's Ruggerama, and there's every reason to expect the two rivals to face each other in the final once again.
- Danielle Bessette & Jackie Finlan