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U23s Struggle to Defeat England Students

The USA U23 women’s rugby team defeated England Students today 25-12 in a game that did not highlight the best of the tourists’ abilities.

Having waited two days to play the game because of cold weather, the Americans did not come out of the blocks cleanly, stumbling at times through a first half that saw plenty of mistakes.

The bright sport of the first 40 came in the 5th minute, when left wing Timoly Sommer (right) scored in the corner for a 5-0 lead. The American’s couldn’t add to the lead, however, and within minutes things looked far worse as loose forward Jen Shields was helped off the pitch with a serious knee injury.

"The team reeled for a while after that," said head coach Barb Fugate. "We began to threaten but we failed to score for any umber of reasons — poor decisions, mishandled ball."

The half ended 5-0.

"Our halftime adjustments were simple," said Fugate. "Calm down and keep trying to do the right thing. There is a danger in select side play, where individual players resort to playing alone when things don't seem to be going well. We also had some incidents of simple loss of discipline. The team was able to
rally themselves to play the second half together, and score with a few series of good attacking rugby."

It was Sommer again, who had been so good defensively in the first game of the tour, who showed her attacking flair. Her try in the 4th minute made it 10-0, and then Jenn Starkey mirrored Sommer’s try with a score on the right wing. Up 15-0 with 20 minutes to go the U23s then held off a late England Students surge.

A series of penalties allowed the English to power over for a converted try, but from the kickoff the Americans counterattacked. After a series of phases that saw the USA U23 forwards threatening in close to the line, scrumhalf Kit Thompson scampered in under the posts from a few meters out. Val Griffeth kicked her first conversion of the day for a 22-7 lead.


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More penalties and missed tackles allowed England Students to retaliate, and eight minutes later they scored another try to get within shouting distance at 22-12. But Griffeth’s penalty goal in the 37th minute sealed the game.

"The good news was we actually got to play the game today and we won," said Fugate. "The bad news is Jen Shields’ injury, which looks like a torn medial collateral ligament, and the fact that we did not play very well."

The USA team had a full afternoon of sightseeing in London on Thursday, and its just as well because the tour comes to a close in intense fashion. A full day of training will be followed by Sunday’s return match with Emerging England in Coventry.

Next Game: USA U23s v. Emerging England, January 12 2:00 pm, Broad Street Rugby Club, Coventry, England.

USA U23s 25
Tries: Sommer 2, Starkey, Thompson
Convs: Griffeth
Pens: Griffeth

England Students 12

USA U23 Lineup

1 Katrina Logan, Stanford University; 2 Alena Kolarsky, Houston Area Rugby Club; 3 Shannon Wallace, Beantown; 4 Laurel Kellner, U. California-Berkeley; 5 Denise Hanson, Chico State; 6 Jen Shields, Ozark Ladies; 7 Felicia Gilbert, Stanford University; 8 Kate Cox, U. Northern Iowa; 9 Kit Thompson, Cincinnati/Dayton; 10 Val Griffeth, Vassar College; 11 Timoly Sommer, U. Wisconsin-Eau Claire; 12 Bridget Waitkus (field captain), Beantown; 13 Karen Fong, UCLA; 14 Jenn Starkey, James Madison U.; 15 Lea Payton, Housewives WRFC

Reserves: 16 Laura McDonald (co captain), San Antonio, in for Cox; 17 Kristin Zdanczewicz, Wisconsin WRFC, in for Shields; 18 Katie MacCallum, Beantown in for Zdanczewicz; 19 Lisa Butts, Chico State; 20 Kathy Borkoski, Norfolk Storm; 21 Teena Mastrangelo, Chicago Northshore; 22 Chris Herrmann, St. Louis



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