The USA Women got off to a decent start during the first round of the Women’s International Invitational in Las Vegas, defeating Japan 17-5. USA coach Ric Suggitt started a smaller team – save Amy Daniels and Emilie Bydwell – against the tinier Japanese, but their opponents didn’t need the help.
Early on, Japan got up 5-0 after Katie Dowty was tied up trying to ship the ball out of the scrum. She was called for not rolling away, and Japan jumped on the quick tap immediately. The side switched fields quickly and ganged up on Vix Folayan sweeping.
“The Japanese were really fast and had some quick steps,” Folayan said. “We got sidestepped a couple of times, so we need to work on that.”
Folayan evened up the score when another messy pass made its way out to the wing. She turned the corner and danced through defenders to dot down in the center. Beth Black converted the score, 7-5.
The USA failed to realize some attacking opportunities, sometimes opting for contact as opposed to working the overload. Some tryline fever demonstrated this fact, as Emilie Bydwell and Deven Owsiany pummeled the line, but the latter snuck through for a second try and 12-5 lead into the half.
A couple of minutes into the half, Suggitt added some height to the roster, sending Vanesha McGee and Lauren Hoeck into the backline. McGee’s first touch of the ball brought the Eagles inside Japan’s 22 meter. An offsides penalty kept the ball in the USA’s possession, and Amy Daniels used her size to drive past three swarming Japanese defenders for the try, 17-5.
“It was our first game; there’s always anxiety, but the jitters are out of our system,” Folayan said. “It was a good start for us. We need to clean up our passes, clean our defense and make sure we keep the communication up. All in all, we’re proud of our performance, and we’re ready for more.”
The Eagles will have their wish shortly as they take on the Maple Leafs, which lost to France 14-5 in the opening round.
USA 7s Roster: Beth Black, Emilie Bydwell, Amy Daniels, Katie Dowty (Lauren Hoeck), Vix Folayan (Vanesha McGee), Kelly Griffin (Lauren Hoeck), Deven Owsiany.