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2014 Girls High School Team of the Year

2014 Girls High School Team of the Year

Photo courtesy www.RugbyChampionships.org



When Fallbrook first joined the national championship back in 2010, the Sacramento Amazons overwhelmed the Southern California squad in the final. That loss was more than motivation for the Warriors; it was education, and Fallbrook proved to have excellent students.

A rematch unfurled the following year, but it was Fallbrook who put on a clinic – playing as if indifferent to the Amazons’ size and power, and too fast and focused for the NorCal powers.

Since 2011, no one has come close to Fallbrook, but 2014 was an opportunity to see the then-three-time champions in a different light. Founding members Megan Pinson and Irayda Macedo had graduated (and both are now scholarship athletes on varsity college teams), and although Fallbrook has great depth, the duo were integral to the team’s identity.

The opposition was getting stronger, too, and May’s high school nationals proved to be the most competitive yet. Behind junior Olympian Richelle Stephens, senior hooker Johni Durbin and sister Lilly (a High School All American as a freshman), and sophomores Michel Navarro and Kayla Canett, Fallbrook ran out to a 57-0 win over North Bay and 22-3 semifinal win against Kent.

Meanwhile, Sacramento was enjoying a successful campaign. Its senior class had a lot of experience playing together, and that helped the team to a 19-12 win over St. Joe’s and 20-5 semifinal victory over Divine Savior Holy Angels.

For the third time in five years, Fallbrook and Sacramento were deciding the national title, and early on in the championship, it was the Amazons who controlled the game. Behind the incomparable Suli Tausinga (now a scholarship athlete at Central Washington), Sacramento built a 10-0 lead, while Fallbrook managed a penalty heading into the break.

And this is where we saw the professionalism of Fallbrook come through. Rather than succumb to panic or play individualistically, the Warriors absorbed the Amazon attack and continued to work the sidelines, waiting for the moment when fitness (it being the third game in two days) would shift the momentum.

Fallbrook prevailed and held off a late surge from Sacramento, finishing with a 27-17 win and its fourth consecutive title.

The Warriors proved that they weren’t untouchable; however, they also proved that they have the grit and composure that runs steadily through a dynastic program.