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Parker Eyes Potential Eagles

Monday Aug 31, 2009 in Women National Teams

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(Lauren Hoeck on the run for the Mid-Atlantic. Ed Hagerty photo.)

Now that the Women's National All Star 7s Championship has concluded, coach Sue Parker should have a good idea about her present pool of players. Invitations to the October camp in Clearmont, Fla., went out today, and we think the following athletes were might be included:

1. Northeast – Behind coach Chris Ryan, the Nessies have won four of the last five NASCs. And with the NRU U-23s winning their all-star championship earlier this year, the tradition has legs. The majority of the NRU squad has been in the national system, including three of the four Eagles who played at 7s World Cup (Ines Rodriguez, Jen Sinkler and Alison Price) and present at NASCs. There were a couple new faces, in particular Maria Muscara, a senior at LaSalle University and who played with New York RC over the summer. She was noticed at the City-Based League Tournament in July and brought great pace to the star-studded lineup. The crowd favorite was Ida Bernstein. A very powerful runner and aggressive defender, she’s very exciting to watch. When the ball reached her hands, you could almost hear a collective sigh from the opposition.

2. Mid-Atlantic – Parker’s prototype was Stacy Bennett, who was named NASC 7s MVP.

“She played the most consistent level of exceptional rugby,” Parker said, “and her individual performance had the single greatest impact on the team’s performance. She’s national team pool worthy.”

Bennett scored three tries over the weekend, including the opening five-pointer in the final against NRU.

“No, we weren’t surprised that they scored first,” said NRU coach Ryan. “We’ve played NOVA a few times, so we know each other’s strengths. We beat them at Cheesesteak 7s; they beat us at Cape Fear. It’s just all about who can impose their will.”

CJ Hildreth led the team with four tries, and the fourth RWC 7s Eagle, Lauren Hoeck, contributed 14 points to the Sharks’ finalist run. Beth Black, the Women's Club 7s NIT MVP, put in two tries over the weekend as well and justified Parker's already high opinion of the athlete.

3. Pacific Coast – The Pacific Coast could have made it to the final, but in one of the most thrilling games of the weekend, the Grizzlies lost to MARFU 13-10 during pool play, setting them up to play NRU in the Cup semis.

Ardia Kelker of the San Francisco Fog led the tournament with five tries, and had similar sideline speed to Bernstein. Once she works on her one-on-one skills, she’ll be a terror. Ruth Bryson, Kelly Griffin and Elaine Gardner contributed two tries apiece, and Stanford alum Jossy Tseng was a workhorse on the field.

“We’re happy with third,” said Griffin and Kelker, as they left the trainer’s tent. “We didn’t play to our strengths against the Northeast [in the Cup semis] and let them dictate too much, but we did well for a group who has never really played together.”

4. USA Developmental – The team was composed of players who were already in the developmental program and athletes invited from the City-Based League tournament in mid-July. Tess Kohanski, who at first glance doesn’t seem to be a traditional 7s player, proved spectators wrong with her deceptive speed. She led the team with three tries, most of which involved a nasty stiff-arm. Parker singled out Beantown's resident flyhalf Kelly Seary, calling her performance “outstanding.”

Seary has never played higher-level 7s before, but with the little instruction she’s received, she showed immense potential. Sadie Anderson, though only a Penn State sophomore, is well known throughout the rugby community. She came through with a try in the third place game, which the USA As lost to the Grizzlies 12-10.

- Jackie Finlan

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