[Photo: Ashley Okonta hopes to add a 15s cap to her 7s and U-20 resume. Lynne Skilken photo].
RugbyMag.com makes a few predictions on selections for the Women’s National Team’s fall tour of Europe. Below are the 42 women who attended camp; there are only 30 spots available.
|Sadie Anderson||Meya Bizer||Sharon Blaney|
|Megan Bonny||Kristin Bonomo||Sylvia Braaten|
|Rebecca Brafman||Stacey Bridges||Jamie Burke|
|Lisa Butts||Sarah Chobot||Kate Daley|
|Lauren Daly||Amy Daniels||Jess Davis|
|Mel Denham||Val Griffeth||Brittany Houston|
|Monica Jackson||Katie Johnson||Molly Kinsella|
|Ashley Kmiecik||Tess Kohanski|
|Jenny Lui||Kaelene Lundstrum||Cassidy Meyers|
|Rose Meisner||Laura Miller||San Juanita Moreno|
|Ashley Okonta||Sam Pankey||Andrea Prusinski|
|Naima Reddick||Kimber Rozier||Hannah Stolba|
|Shaina Turley||Emily Van Gulik||Kitt Wagner|
|Carrie White||Sarah Wilson||Jess Wooden|
WNT coach Pete Steinberg will likely bring a mostly veteran squad to Italy and France, but also use the tests to inaugurate some promising
youngsters. The new players range from Cassidy Meyers, who still plays for the Washington high school, Kent Crusaders; to Atlanta’s Jess Wooden, who is back in the mix after injury; to Val Griffeth, a veteran who has played international 7s but not 15s.
Here’s how we’re narrowing down the pool:
Current USA 7s Players
WNT 7s coach Ric Suggitt indicated that his 7s players were going to participate in the 15s assemblies and made available for international tests, if only for the experience. However, only a handful of athletes who played in the 2011-12 Women’s Challenge Cup attended the recent 15s camp: Meya Bizer, Amy Daniels, Kaelene Lundstrum, Ashley Okonta and Kimber Rozier.
The last game of the 15s tour is Nov. 24; the first game of the Dubai 7s is Nov. 30. That’s a quick turnaround for a player selected for two tours, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the aforementioned 7s athletes were included in the 15s pool because they weren’t selected for Dubai.
Perhaps 7s residents Lundstrum and Rozier will join the team in Dubai; however, Christy Ringgenberg has joined the Chula Vista crew and Nathalie Marchino will arrive during early October, to increase the pool of contracted players to 10.
An impressive number of college players were included in the 15s camp, but they need to keep building their experience domestically before taking on national teams. Washington State’s Megan Bonny, AIC’s Jess Davis, Stanford’s Molly Kinsella and Women’s Cougar Rugby Monica Jackson all have promising careers, but we don’t think they’re ready for the trip across the Atlantic just yet. Same goes for the lone high-schooler, Meyers.
Recent UW-Milwaukee grads Katie Johnson and Brittany Houston are playing for Women’s Premier League teams. Johnson has a slew of international experience with the USA U20s and continues to adapt to the senior level with the Twin Cities Amazons. However, the former No. 8’s size isn’t up to national team standards, so she might need to find a new position into which to grow. Houston is with division-leading Glendale, and has a lot of potential, but both are in the midst of reaching it.
The exception is Sadie Anderson, who works with Steinberg at Penn State. She debuted for the national 15s team last summer during the Nations Cup, and the flyhalf should definitely be on the roster (unless school interferes).
To summarize: We think all of the 7s athletes will be included, and all of the high school/college-age athletes (except Sadie Anderson) will be excluded.
Whether past their prime or not, the veterans invited to Colorado were being considered for the fall tour, so we’re going to include everyone who played for the 2010 Rugby World Cup or was in the player pool late in the selection process (excluding Daniels, who was covered in the 7s section): Blaney, Bridges, Burke, Butts, Denham, Kmiecik, Kugler, Moreno, Reddick, Stolba and Wagner.
If you add in everyone who played for the 2011 Nations Cup (Braaten, Brafman, Chobot, Daley, Lui, Miller, Pankey, Turley, White), then the tally of players reaches 26. But we don’t think all of the ’11 Nations Cup-ers are going to make the cut. During the last year, Steinberg has praised a number of cap-seeking players, whom we think will overtake some of the less-established veterans this tour.
For instance, Steinberg has said some really great things about second rows Rosie Meisner and Emily Van Gulik. We’re confident that they’ll make the team, while last year’s Eagle lock Lauren Daly might take the hit.
There are five players who don’t truly fit into any of the previously mentioned categories, so their destinies are more difficult to predict: Kristin Bonomo, Val Griffeth, Tess Kohanski, Andre Prusinski, Sarah Wilson and Jess Wooden.
It’s a tough call, but there are a few things we know. Of the backs: Griffeth is a long-time, successful wing for San Diego, and the most experienced back-three player in this lot. If we had to choose between her and Prusinski (wing for Glendale), then we'd go with Griffeth, who has also played for the 7s Eagles. Jess Wooden's tough - she's come back from injury and looking strong, but not sure she's up to international competition yet.
Of the forwards: Bonomo is a solid, hard-working flanker for Beantown but she’s too small for the international stage. Wilson is a former age-grade Eagle and standout in the Glendale front row. She's competing with young, front row, Kohanski, who's been doing as good a job for Beantown.