USA U20s, West Post Shutouts in Women U23 All-Star Tourney
Friday Jun 12, 2009 in Women All-Stars
(Virginia's Erica Cavanaugh gets on the scoresheet. Marshall Sparts Media photo.)
Pittsburgh, Pa. – The West U23s and USA U20s will face off in Sunday’s final of the USA Rugby National U23 Women’s All-Star Championships after both posted shutout victories Friday at Founder’s Field in the Steel City.
The U20s were untouchable against Southern California, beating the Griffins 44-0. Head coach Bryn Chivers said it was far from a dominating performance, but in the end the U20 speed and the slick work of their backs did the job.
“It was very messy around the breakdown,” said Chivers. “We have a lot of players who are relatively new to the program who started today, and it took them a while to really get into it. Also, we’re trying to coach to the international standard in terms of how you work the rucks – getting your hands on players on the ground, slowing the ball down, clearing out players near the ruck. But those things aren’t allowed in the domestic game so our players had a lot of adjustments to make.”
And make them they did. Led by back-rowers Erin LeGate (Maryville) and Jozy Gessner (Summit), the pack was strong in a physical battle with SoCal. LeGate and Gessner disrupted SoCal’s scrumhalf-flyhalf hinge, and with the backs as a whole playing good defense, the Griffins had few places to go.
“When we got clean ball the backs were very crisp, which was nice to see,” said Chivers.
The outside backs capitalized with tries. Army’s Jessica Sexauer scored three, and Erica Cavanaugh (UVa.), Brittany Rose (West Chester), Maggie Reidy (UW-Milwaukee) and Tyra McGrady (Indiana U.) all scored. Legate added a try also, and flyhalf Lisa Henneman (Seattle RFC) hut two conversions.
Meanwhile the West shut out the South 32-0 in a polished performance, setting up the game to see who will be promoted to Tier A in 2010. This is the second time since they started playing in the U23 NASC that the USA U20s or U19s have made the Tier B final. They did so in 2006 they lost 18-17 to Southern California to be denied promotion.
The USA U19/U20 program (which did not play in the 2008 tournament due to scheduling issues) is now 5-6 in the U23 NASC.
Chivers will start almost a completely different XV on Sunday. He held out some regular USA players, including Candace Barley, Sadie Anderson and Cat Parkhill.
“We have 25 players and said all would start, so we’re making a lot of changes,” Chivers said.