USA Women 4th, Work to Do
USA Women 4th, Work to Do
Saturday was Day Two of the USA 7s for the United States women’s team, and they started it by getting a little revenge, and ended it understanding they still have a ways to go.
The Quarterfinals saw the USA take on Ireland, a team they lost to on Friday. IN this second matchup between the two, Ireland’s penchant for not releasing the ball and not releasing the tackled player was somewhat egregious. They were penalized, for sure, but not enough, and someone should have seen a yellow card.
Regardless, the USA players stayed patient on defense, and finally some nice ball handling set Naya Tapper free to race in for a try.
With Kristen Thompson offering more speed options, the Eagles had the Irish defenders a little unsure who to key on, and that led to a Ryan Carlyle score. Ireland got one back before Thomas was set up by Tapper, and Tapper got her second. No conversions, so the 20-12 scoreline looked a little closer than the run of the game.
That put the USA in the semifinals against New Zealand, and this was a winnable game.
Thomas was give some space and made it count early, but the New Zealand defense held from then on, and the USA could not quite control the ball the way they wanted. New Zealand 12, USA 7.
That meant the Eagles were playing for 3rd, and they did so against Canada. This was a game of missed early opportunities, and a lesson in how to break tackles. One move, in a way, typified the USA experience. Canada attacked into the USA 22, kicking ahead and looking for all the world like they’d win the race to the ball. But good cover defense rescued things for the Americans. Kelsi Stockert scooped up the ball and curved around to get some go-forward. She beat a couple of defenders, was tackled, and had release the ball as she stood to regather. But Kate Zackary was right behind her to clear out. The resulting collision produced a knock-on, and instead of a counter-movement for the Eagles, it was a scrum, and soon a try, for Canada.
That showed the difficulty when new players come into the team - a lack of knowledge of what the other will do can lead to a drop, a player out of position, and maybe just an arm tackle. And that’s how the game went. Canada broke through arm tackles, and had pace to burn. The Eagles, so good working together for most of the weekend, were a little too lateral in their attack, and found they paid for every mistake.
So good news for the USA - 4th place in Vegas, and some good performances for the home crowd.
They didn’t move up in the standings, but consolidated their position. Instead of just barely in 6th, they are now two points out of 4th.
But the distance between the top three - New Zealand, Australia, and Canada - is significant in the standings and on the field. The Eagles are among the best of the rest, but have to find that extra level of physicality and unity to make the next jump.
Women’s World Series Standings
1. New Zealand 56pts
2. Australia 50
3. Canada 46
4. Fiji 36
5. Russia 34
6. USA 34
7. France 26
8. England 20
9. Ireland 16
10. Spain 9