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Parker Looks at Lower-Finishing Teams

Tuesday Sep 1, 2009 in Women National Teams

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 (Claire Gregorich is one. Ed Hagerty photo.)

USA women’s 7s coach Sue Parker saw talent in all the teams at the National All-Star Championships. And even though some teams didn’t fare so well, some players did:

5. South –
The Panthers squad skewed older … and wiser. Veterans Pat Neder (two tries), Patty Jervey and Leah Barnes (three tries) anchored the team, but at 30 (and 40) plus, aren’t likely to receive a 7s invitation. Not that they don’t still elicit the respect they deserve.

“I’m so tired of playing her!” NRU’s Kate Daley said as she watched Neder scamper in for one of two tries during the 5th place match. “And she can still chase me down!”

“Our team was very young last year,” said Lindsay Stephenson, who scored three tries over the weekend, “and we didn’t win a game. So it was nice playing with the veterans.” Stephenson was the most exciting to watch – feisty in the breakdown (which at one point earned her a yellow card against USA A) and great change of direction. Stephenson recently moved to Buffalo , and was playing summer 15s in Toronto , so she might be playing for the NRU next year.

Annie Antar and Becky Urion also looked strong, finding the try zone a couple times each. Both have been in the developmental pool before.

6. Midwest – The 2008 NASC 7s champion did not repeat last year’s performance, or even close to it. They went 0-3 on day one and notched a 25-5 win over Southern California before losing 34-0 to the South in the 5th place match, and while they had a couple of standouts, they did struggle. Jenny Lui from Chicago North Shore was fun to watch, and there’s always Jackie Limberg, who’s been in the developmental pool before.

7. West – Of all the teams that played, the West’s 7th place finish was the most surprising considering the players they had. The gelled well, ran great attacking lines, but even when they secured the majority possession (e.g., in their Bowl semi loss to the Midwest ), they couldn’t hold onto the win. The chemistry was there, and the Mustangs spread the scoring around, with seven players accounting for their 12 tries. Claire Gregorich and Jennifer Kuchar logged three tries apiece, and along with Jen Nelson, showcased great speed and line-breaking potential.

“We pride ourselves on having no standouts,” Gregorich said. “It took us a while to find each other, so there were a lot of ups and downs over the weekend.”

Heidi Whitman, Kathryn Pavoa and Christiane Phiel, who attended the recent USA U-23 camp, also logged tries and worked really well together considering the six clubs they represented.

8. Southern California – The Griffins must have compiled a team based on availability, and was lacking veteran leadership. Sevens Eagle Kelly White was originally slotted to travel, but never made it. She would have made a significant difference. There was some solid leadership in Nicole Belkin, but SoCal went 0-5, scoring just two tries. To their credit, they never let their shoulders sag, but it was difficult to name anyone with real potential since the players’ speed and agility skills were showcased on defense.

- Jackie Finlan

 

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