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USA Women 2-1 in Dubai

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USA Women 2-1 in Dubai

Cheta Emba and the Eagles still need to catch Canada. Martin Seras Lima photo.

The USA Women’s Sevens National Team opened the second leg of the Emirates Invitational with a 2-1 Day One. 

Wins over France and Brazil were tougher than last week's efforts as the United States struggled to find rhythm and consistency. They also lost to Canada for the second time in two weeks, although this game was also closer and perhaps showed evidence of some improvement.

They hung in there during a 19-12 loss despite seeing Ilona Maher taking off the field injured in the first minute.

“I was pretty gutted with our performance in the Brazil game as we did not represent ourselves well," said USA Head Coach Chris Brown. "Apart from a couple of soft defensive sets in the first half against Canada, we made a brave showing. We’ll start again tomorrow for another chance. Tournaments are never won on Day One.”

The Eagles beat France 14-12 after falling behind 12-0. The French defense made it tough for the U.S. to advance the ball with very few trips inside the 22. But slowly the Eagles clawed back and Stephanie Rovetti scored from a scrum. Right from the restart they regained the ball and shipped it to Nicole Heavirland, who was over and who then converted to win the game.

Against Brazil the USA gave up a penalty near the Brazil line and then saw Brazil race the length of the field to score (despite a dogged chase from Jordan Matyas). Kasey McCravey responded immediately on the kickoff, evening the scoreline in what became a back-and-forth first half. 

Following a Brazilian penalty, Kristi Kirshe found space from the scrum to outpace her defenders. Brazil answered back immediately to close the score to 14-12 at halftie. 

The second half was all USA. Kris Thomas, who made some superb plays in the first tournament a week ago, drove in a try from the kickoff. Kirshe intercepted a Brazilian pass and the entire squad combined to move the ball edge to edge; Cheta Emba finished it off and the USA had won 31-14.

In the final game of the day, Canada scored early, and after Maher's injury, nabbed a loose ball to score another. The USA struggled to get anything going for some time, but with a Canadian in the sin bin Lauren Doyle found space to give the USA its first points. Another yellow to Canada and the Eagles responded, with Sui A’au scoring in the corner. That made it 14-12 to Canada, and the Eagles had time for one more. But Canada was the team to get over to extend their lead to 19-12. With time enough for one more play, the Eagles opted oddly to kick, and Canada gathered and kicked to touch to end the game.

Saturday will see Japan and Kenya on the slate and then what will likely be another final against Canada.