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Falcons Women Win in Japan

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Falcons Women Win in Japan

Back row, left to right: Heavirland, Stockert, Durbin, Pankey, Zackary, Tapper; Front row: Carlyle, Strasko, Foster, Blythe, Emba

The USA Falcons women's 7s team won the Invitational Cup at the Okinawa 7s.

 The Falcons, a team of current USA 7s players and those knocking on the door, went 2-0-2 in the first four games, beating France and Netherlands, and tying Japan A and Japan B.  

"This was a huge opportunity for us as a program and I appreciate the efforts by the Japan Rugby Union to host this invitational," Coach Andy Locke told USARugby.org. "It was a first-class event from the welcome to the closing tournament function. Playing 24 hours after arriving was challenging in its own right, but every foreign team was under the same conditions and I thought the ladies responded well."

The Falcons then got to meet up with a tough Australia team, and beat them 26-17. That set up a final with Australia right after, and the Falcons did it again, winning 19-12. 

The Falcons team was supposed to be a squad of 12, but Bulou Mataitoga was unable to go at the last minute, leaving 11 players with the job of making it through the tournament. Locke praised the entire team, but also had special praise ofr Kelsi Stockert, who emerged as a punishing runner (we say emerged despite the fact that anyone who plays against Stockert isn't surprised), and Tia Blythe, who was dangerous in open field. Both are products of USA high school rugby and the age-grade national teams.
 

USA Falcons team at Okinawa 7s:
Lilly Durbin
Cheta Emba
Megan Foster
Nicole Heavirland
Tia Blythe
Sam Pankey
Ryan Carlyle
Kelsi Stockert
Nicole Strasko
Naya Tapper
Kate Zackary (C)