The Santa Barbara 7s was a social tournament for two-thirds of the participating teams, but it served as the Southern California qualifier to nationals for the women. Two pools of four convened at the event, with Tempe representing the one team outside of the state.
Although it was encouraging to see teams like Pasadena and the Old Aztecs emerge onto the Southern California scene, San Diego continues to play in a tier all their own. Behind standouts like USA 7s resident Hannah Lopez, Katie Lorenz, Amy Naber, Val Griffeth and Cara Nocero, San Diego cruised through pool play with wins over Santa Monica, Old Aztecs and Pasadena, and then topped Tempe in the semifinals.
That left Berkeley, easily San Diego’s toughest competition. Berkeley took a similar path to the title bout, putting down San Diego II/Motley 28-5, San Fernando 36-0 and Tempe 44-5 during pool play, and then Santa Monica 57-0 in the semis. As a Northern California representative looking toward the Pacific Coast championship this weekend, the All Blues had some other objectives in mind last Saturday.
“We continued to get our young players much needed experience playing high-level 7s,” Berkeley assistant coach Brandon Sparks said. “We won’t have Jossy [Tseng], Phoebe [Boone] or Katy Augustyn available for nationals due to Nations Cup, so that is giving players like Gen Ireland, Jenn Sever and Erin Overcash minutes in our top side, and they are stepping up.”
The Santa Barbara 7s final saw two of the best 7s teams in the country face off, but that's not the only reason the tournament-ender was so intriguing. The last time these two teams met, a month ago at Dirty 7s, they played to sudden death overtime. Berkeley prevailed in that thrilling game, but San Diego ensured a repeat performance did not occur last Saturday.
“They looked fast and well drilled, and I think the wider field helped their attack,” Sparks compared Saturday’s San Diego with the team that appeared in Palm Springs a month ago. “[Eagle] Lauren Daly, who was out injured, did an amazing job stepping in for Richie Walker as their coach. She used her personnel wisely, like bringing Sabrina Kraft in the second half who seemed to have the single focus of disrupting our breakdowns, and subbing on their best finisher, Hannah Lopez, late to make sure they kept us on the back foot defensively."
Berkeley struggled to win their one-on-one battles, especially in contact situations.
“Too many missed tackles and being counter-rucked off our own ball cost us,” Sparks said. Consequently, San Diego ran out to a 34-7 win over Berkeley, securing the Santa Barbara 7s title, and more importantly, the top seed out of Southern California.
As a region, Southern California is still in negotiations with a couple teams regarding whether they have the wherewithal to travel to Pittsburgh for club 7s nationals. If not, then SoCal’s second seed will be redistributed to another region.
Below are brief updates from around the country:
- Southern California: San Diego wins SoCal qualifier convincingly; second seed up for debate
- Pacific Coast: Four teams will compete in Pac Coast championship this weekend in Seattle: one team from NorCal, three from Pacific Northwest. PNW determined three seeds to Pac Coast champs last Saturday at Can Am 7s: Seattle took first, ORSU second, Emerald City third. Berkeley is lone rep from NorCal.
- South: One seed; Atlanta only team interested, and best qualified.
- Mid-Atlantic: Saturday’s Cheesesteak 7s was last tournament to afford series points. Scion won, moving the new team into the third seed heading into MARFU championships this weekend. D.C. Furies and NOVA I take top seeds and are the teams to beat. Region allotted three seeds but likely candidate for more should regions fall short.
- Northeast: This Saturday's Princeton 7s is third of four qualifiers; points total will determine the two seeds to nationals. Boston Belles, Beantown and Morris in tight race; New York an outside chance should they participate and finish well in last two events.
- Midwest: Chicago Lions continued streak, winning second consecutive qualifier at Rock n Roll 7s. Youngbloodz right behind them; Detroit solidly in third. Last of four qualifiers this weekend – Rock Hard 7s – will allot series points that will determine two seeds to nationals. Region also possibility for additional seeds.
- Combined Services: Updated information – definitely committed to nationals, under Koma Gandy’s organization.
- West: no info