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Defense Wins it For USA U23s

January 5, 2003, Coventry, England — In a tight, hard, defensive battle, the USA Under 23 women’s rugby team opened its England tour with a 7-0 victory over Emerging England Sunday.

"I am really relieved," said head coach Barb Fugate. "They really outsized us in the

Farmer the Try-Scorer

 forwards and we played a game where we couldn’t get any set piece possession."

With scrums and lineouts both a struggle, the Americans had to defend against the big, hard-running English forwards, and then steal ball in the rucks and mauls. Emerging England came close to scoring several times in the first half, but were stymied by a committed USA U23 defense, and the first half ended 0-0.

"Both teams defended very well," added USA U23 program director Ellen Owens. "It certainly started out as a forward’s game."

At halftime Fugate urged her players to use their superiority in the backs.

"I told them that defense was going to win this game, and that when we got our opportunity, we had to take it," she said. "Whatever possession we got, we had to get it to the backs and open up the game and make their forwards move from side to side. We had to take quick taps on penalties and keep the ball moving."


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The tactics worked, and within minutes a scything USA run almost resulted in a score. The Americans threatened several times, but it wasn’t until the 31st minute of the second half that they scored. The ball was spun out to flyhalf Val Griffeth, and her backs linked up with fullback Christine Herrmann, who was steaming into the backline at full pace. Herrmann broke the English line and then fed left wing Ashley Farmer at a dead run, and Farmer outflanked her opposite number and touched down under the posts for the game’s only try.

Griffeth converted for the 7-0 lead. The rest of the game was played in the USA half, as England tried to hammer in the score, but they didn’t get over.

Having emerged from the game relatively injury free and now brimming with confidence, the USA U23s will play England Students in Warwick on Wednesday, January 8 (kickoff 2:00 p.m. local time), and then a return engagement with Emerging England next Sunday, January 12.

"We expect them to be much more organized next time," Fugate said of Emerging England. "So we will have to be much more effective with our possession."

USA U23s 7
Tries: Farmer
Convs: Griffeth

1. Katie MacCallum Beantown, Boston, Mass
2. Lisa Butts Chico State University
3. Danielle Miller Miami University (Ohio)
4. Kristin Myers Iowa State University
5. Denise Hanson Chico State University
6. Kristin Zdanczewicz Wisconsin WRFC
7. Laura McDonald San Antonio
8. Kelly Evanovich Pittsburgh Angels
9. Meaghan White Chicago Northshore
10. Valerie Griffeth Vassar College
11. Ashley Farmer West Chester University
12. Bridget Waitkus Beantown, Boston, Mass.
13. Timoly Sommer University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire
14. Cristina Mastrangelo Chicago Northshore
15. Christine Herrmann St. Louis WRFC

Reserves: 16. Felicia Gilbert 21 Flanker Stanford University; 17. Shannon Wallace 23 Prop Beantown, Boston; 18. Katrina Logan 20 Flanker/No. 8 Stanford University; 19. Kate Cox 21 Lock/Flanker University of Northern Iowa; 20. Kathryn M. Borkoski 23 Scrumhalf Norfolk Storm 21. Karen Fong 23 Center/Wing UCLA WRFC 22. Jennifer Starkey 21 Wing James Madison University



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