Southern California is hosting its first women’s club 7s qualifier of the season. The Santa Monica 7s will see frontrunner San Diego, Belmont Shore, Ventura and hosts Santa Monica duke it out for top points.
The Surfers are highly favored to win this event. Last weekend, they traveled to San Francisco to play in a small All Blues-run tournament, which also showcased three Berkeley sides, Reno and San Jose. The Surfers fell to the reigning club 7s champions in the final, but put on an excellent display of top-level 7s that will be a joy to watch at nationals.
San Diego is fortunate to have several players in USA 7s pool who integrate into the Chula Vista training sessions on occasion – Ryan Carlyle, Katie Lorenz and Emilie Bydwell. Val Griffeth is also in the 7s pool, but the two latter athletes will be attending the USA Women’s 15s camp in Greeley, Colo., this weekend. But San Diego won’t suffer too much; in addition to the 7s Eagles, Cara Nocera and Mandy Wilson are solid 7s players, and the WPL team is never short on talent.
Belmont Shore will likely be the second-best team in the field and advance to the final against the Surfers. They’ve been the DII represent at 15s nationals for the last few years and have a solid program behind them. Santa Monica will likely finish third.
As for Ventura, they’re the newest club on the block and are the underdogs for sure. The young team played at the Oasis 7s last weekend, ending 2-2 after defeating Santa Monica and Tucson, and losing to Belmont Shore and the Dirty Merkins. However the team that took the field only had two CIPPed Ventura players and picked up players from all over the southern California region.
“Nobody anchors the team officially,” Ventura assistant manager Ashley Lewis said. “We’re still waiting for that leader to really rise up and the team to field a complete side at a tournament. We have an experienced scrumhalf who moved here from Virginia, a former MARFU 15s all-star. She's the most knowledgeable and tends to be our leader by default. But overall, until this coming Saturday, everyone still needs to prove themselves.”
The team is also hampered by injuries and might not be able to field a fully CIPPed team, making them ineligible to garner points in this qualifier.
So while Ventura is a long shot, the remaining three teams will be playing for the two SoCal seeds heading to nationals. Those two berths will be named after the second and final qualifier at the Belmont Shore 7s. Stay tuned for results.