Canada lived up to expectations during day one of the Women’s International 7s Invitational in Las Vegas. They finished atop the standings with a 3-0 record, scoring 80 points and allowing only seven.
One had to pity Brazil to an extent when they made their Vegas debut, taking on one of the world’s greatest 7s teams. A lot more damage than the 26-0 victory could have evolved, but it was a solid beginning in attempting to defend their 2011 title.
Up next was the USA’s Stars and Stripes. “We were anticipating the USA to be our toughest game,” Canada’s Mandy Marchak said of the USA B side. “Development or not, they always bring a hard game, and they have good depth.”
After seven minutes, Canada found itself at a 7-all tie with Stars and Stripes.
The USA came out hard, and we eased up and let them come to us,” Marchak said. “Yes, we were a little surprised [to be tied at half], but we have the ability to shake it off. Our coach kicks our butts a little bit – tells us to play your game; you know what you’re good at, so just do it.
The motivational halftime speech worked, and Canada ran in three tries for the 26-7 win.
The highly anticipated rematch of last year’s final occurred during the last round, but the Netherlands weren’t the squad they were a year ago. They were missing some of their tall finishers in lieu of smaller, less experienced players, and it showed against Canada.
“Netherlands are a really good team, but since we controlled the game, it was a lot easier than we expected,” Marchak said of the 28-0 win. “We spread the field really well, and cut a lot of good lines. Our team dynamics allow us to work really well off each other, so that allowed us to play the expansive game that we want.”
Ghislaine Landry, Cheryl Phillips and Ashley Patzer were among the try scorers, all of whom are in residency. In fact, all but three players from both the Maple Leafs and national team have been in residency for a month. For the three who joined the residents for this tour, it’s been a difficult transition.
“It’s really tough with them,” Marchak sympathized. “We’ve been working together for a month now, and they come in when we get to Vegas, try to get to know everything. They fit in really well which is great because it means we have depth. With a little more practice, they would mesh a little better. But they’re doing great as rookies and being dragged in.”
Defending the Las Vegas championship would be ideal, but Canada isn’t worried about titles in terms of long-term development.
“We take it step by step, but our goal is 2016,” Marchak said. “We look at the process. We have two pretty even teams, and there isn’t any pressure [to win the championship].”
The Maple Leafs finished 1-2 and will compete for the Plate Championship along with the Stars & Stripes, Brazil and Japan. The USA, France and Netherlands comprise the Cup semifinalists.