August 16 2005, Edmonton, Alb. – Chico’s Lisa Butts and Chicago Northshore’s Tina Mastrangelo lead the USA U23s as they open their Canadian tour Wednesday against the Ontario U23s.
Ontario actually has a game under their belt, having played Canada U23s over the weekend, winning 68-3.
(“Credit must be given to Ontario, who never gave up and made the Canada squad work for the 12 tries they scored," said Canada U23 coach Neil Langevin. "The team knows that the Americans will pose a daunting task. The US U23 program has been very active with a tour last year to New Zealand and participation in their National Senior Championships, where they were successful in playing against Senior representative teams." )
Regardless, for the Americans this game serves something of a developmental purpose. The very experienced Butts and Mastrangelo, longtime members of the U23 program, will assist several newcomers, including most of the forward pack.
Traci Schmidtke of Texas A&M and Radcliffe’s Casey Cormier are the props either side of forwards captain and hooker Butts. Laurel Kellner now with the DC Furies, is on her third U23 tour and pairs at lock with debutante Lindsay Keenan of Saint Cloud State.
In the back row, more newbies, as University of Dayton powerhouse Sarah Kitchin flanks with University of Illinois’s Lori Haymon. At eight is Jillion Potter, who has played for less than 12 months and was outstanding for the University of New Mexico and then the USA U19 team.
Rose Whitmore and Lisa Dombroski form the halfback pairing. Whitmore has been capped at the full Eagle level and plays with the Berkeley All Blues and is most certainly expected to provide some poise and leadership. Dombroski was impressive as a wing in New Zealand last year, and much will be asked of her at flyhalf this time around.
In the centers are Texas A&M’s Kim Smith and another USA U19 product, Meg Crapster-Pregont, now at Cornell. Mastrangelo, a fast, silky runner, patrols the left wing while the brilliant Temple University winger Vanesha McGee is on the right.
Head coach Barb Fugate has picked more experience at the back, as Val Griffeth, who toured England in 2003 as a Vassar flyhalf now comes to Canada as a Harlequin Olde Girls fullback.
The team has been practicing hard at St. Albert Rugby Club in Edmonton, where they have received a very warm welcome – the club is even flying the Stars and Stripes above their clubhouse.
But it will be anything but warm tomorrow at Elerslie Rugby Park as heavy rain is expected and temperatures will not get above 50 degree Fahrenheit.
Kickoff is at noon.
USA U23s lineup to play Ontario U23s
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