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NorCal Wins Southwest All Stars

HS Girls

NorCal Wins Southwest All Stars

NorCal flyhalf Teigan MacDonald about to dive over (photo courtesy Kern Rugby Festival)

Despite the frustrating lead-up to the Southwest Regional Cup Tournament (read more), Southern California hosted a top-notch girls all-star competition that brought together arguably the two best high school select sides in the country. Alex Williams did a great job of maintaining the professionalism an event like this deserves, and was also very attentive to team needs.

“The heat was a big factor,” NorCal coach Rod Chance said. “On Saturday, it was 106, and it cooled down to 102 on Sunday. Alex Williams, the tournament director, did a really good job of addressing the heat. There were a bunch of ice baths and industrial swamp coolers at the fields, referee tents, and first-aid area. The matches were pushed up as early as possible, so we did not play in the hottest part of the day. Due to her preparation, I don’t know of any heat-related medical issues.”

Two 45-minute games per division were contested on Saturday, and they served as exhibition games that allowed the second side to bank significant playing time. The varsity teams split their games – NorCal won 12-5, and SoCal won 19-15 – but the Griffins JV team won both games by a combined 75-0.

On Sunday, the JV teams led off finals’ day. The game was more competitive than its abbreviated predecessors, and with 10 minutes remaining, NorCal trailed the Griffins by only seven points.

“For the JV team, 15-year-old Brianna Vasquez, with her snake-like running, was the highest scorer of the tournament,” SoCal coach Ravi Perera said of the Fullerton player, who also trained at the OTC during the pre-NACRA camp. “She scored 11 tries and five conversions, and was named JV Back MVP of the tournament.”

Vasquez picked up the intensity in the waning moments of the game to help SoCal to a 37-15 victory.

A similar point differential evolved in the varsity match. SoCal was missing Fallbrook flyer Lilly Durbin, who suffered an injury on Saturday. Fellow High School All American Michel Navarro had left the Saturday games early, too, but returned to the pitch to complete an awesome loose forward pairing with Emma Workman. Tanner Quinto was also resilient on defense, but her low tackling wasn't enough to subdue NorCal.

Ana Polaulu led the NorCal forward attack and eventually earned Varsity Forward of the Tournament. The No. 8 worked nicely with flanker Bianca Ortiz-Pallen of Bishop O'Dowd. Scrumhalf Maryjane Pasioles managed the game with poise, employing her years with the Amazons and select sides like Atlantis to keep a fast game in the works. Pasioles was named Varsity Back of the Tournament, making for an Amazon sweep of the varsity MVP awards.

The Pleasanton pair of flyhalf Teigan MacDonald and inside center Emily Roskopf put the backline on the front foot, and Amazon Melelea Tausinga was tough to drag down at outside center. Wing Kiana Saffings and fullback Alysha McMoore added a nice dose of speed out wide.

“The varsity match was played with intensity from the kickoff,” Chance reported. “The Griffins are very well coached and play a hard-hitting, complete game. The teams matched up well in the forwards. Every tackle had to be sealed off or the counter-rucks would prevail. The difference was the pace and ball skills of the NorCal backline. They were relentless, going into contact with force, and then adding a few more positive yards before offloading. The continuous pressure stretched the organized Griffins backline.”

Halfway through the second half, NorCal started attacking through the center of the pitch, starting at its 22 meter and ending with a try in the left corner. Tausinga slotted a brilliant sideline conversion; meanwhile two SoCal Griffins laid injured on the pitch. One player had broken her leg and the ambulance was summoned.

“When the ambulance arrived on the pitch, all the players from both teams circled the injured girl, clapping and wishing her well,” Chance said. “It was another one of those beautiful paradoxical moments. The respect, camaraderie and good wishers from sisters, and then back to the match.”

At this juncture, the Griffins were down by four tries but fought until the final whistle and were rewarded with a last-minute try. NorCal prevailed 34-17. Check out some great photos of the final courtesy of Kern Rugby Festival.

It was a good weekend of rugby, and a bunch of Stars & Stripes invites are bound to come out of it. Next year, one can assume the region will be looking to combine efforts with either the Pacific Northwest or West for next year’s all-star tournament.

Northern California
Head coach: Rod Chance
Assts: Steve Lopez, Aoibheann Cline
Junior Varsity
Forwards   Forwards  
Sophomores Position Freshmen Position
Caroline Lomu (Danville) Eight Samantha Gonzales (Bishop O'Dowd) Flanker
Juniors   Victorria Heagy (Renegade) Flanker
Victoria Ackerson (Lancers) Prop Savanna Lindwall (Mother Lode) Prop
Siale Alatini (Danville) Lock Shariyf Mayer (Bishop O'Dowd) Lock
Jaida Kafovalu (Amazon) Flanker Julie Nguyen (Clayton Valley) Flanker
Kyra Leonard (Dixon) Hooker Briana Nicol-Doucet (Lancers) Flanker
Daisy Manoa (Danville) Lock Taylor Smith (Rio Linda) Lock
Bianca Ortiz-Pallen (Bishop O'Dowd) Lock Fifita Uhatafe (Lancers) Eight
Ana Polaulu (Amazon) No. 8 Sophmores  
Stephanie Punty (Clayton Valley) Prop Emily Aston (Pleasanton) Flanker
Dominique Tafao-Braganza (Danville) Prop Nadia Jones (Mother Lode) Prop
Kristina Tomelloso (Dixon) Prop Grace Martin (Pleasanton) Lock
Samantha Zamarripa (Rio Linda) Prop Adryanna Ruiz-Mendoza (Bishop O'Dowd) Lock
Gabriellelani Finau (Amazon) Flanker Katrina Weinstein (Pleasanton) Hooker
Elysha Clark (Chico Oaks) Flanker Backs  
Edna Manoa (Danville) Lock Freshmen  
Taylor Coleman (Bullard) Wing Rebecca Dietz Coope (Clayton Valley) Fullback
    Jessica Gonzales (Bishop O'Dowd) Wing
Backs   Katelyn Hart (Pleasanton) Wing
Sophomores   Tiffany Hernandez (Clayton Valley) Inside Center
Maryjane Pasioles (Amazon) Scrumhalf Elizabeth Navarro (Clayton Valley) Inside Center
Juniors   Lexia Reynolds (Rio Linda) Outside Center
Alysha McMoore (Amazon) Flyhalf Jocelyn Silver (Renegade) Flyhalf
Melelea Tausinga (Amazon) Fullback Sophmores  
Kathlena Truong (Alameda) Wing Sabrina Kim (Pleasanton) Outside Center
Seniors   Annika O'Connell (Chico Oaks) Inside Center
Teigan MacDonald (Pleasanton) Flyhalf Alysia Thao (Amazon) Wing
Carlene McPolin (Silicon Valley) Fullback    
Emily Roskopf (Pleasanton) Center    
Kiana Saffings (Amazon) Center    


Southern California
Head coach: Ravi Perera
Forwards: Craig Pinnell
Backs: Dan Klein, Marin Pinnell
Specialty: Hannah Lockwood
Junior Varsity
Destiny Arena (Fallbrook) Taylor Alcantar
Kayla Canett (Fallbrook) Chanlar Clark
Angel Cibrian (Aztecs) Isabella Devore
Meagan Curtis (South Bay) Haley Harris
Amanda Dewell (Fullerton) Alyssa Henneberg
Lilly Durbin (Fallbrook) Elenise Logoai
Julia Haigh (Fallbrook) Emily Lopez
Enola Hayes (Fullerton) Samantha Mason
Mililani Leui (South Bay) Mary Matti
Selena Ioane (Tri-City) Leilani Mendoza
Domonique Jordan (Fallbrook) Naomi Mitzner
Eva Klein (Fullerton) Arrielle Munsinger
Arnae Lefotu (Back Bay) Talaifina Tavake
Aliyah Moala (South Bay) Deja Taylor
Rian Moala (South Bay) Skylar Tonumaipea
Michel Navarro (Fallbrook) Brianna Vasquez
Eriana Pula (South Bay) Nicole Wantlin
Tanner Quinto (Fullerton)  
Hannah Savin (Fallbrook)  
Chardelle Tuiavii (Oceanside)  
Jennifer Turori (Fallbrook)  
Brittany Vazquez (Fullerton)  
Emma Workman (Fallbrook)