Article by Chad Wise | Originally published at usarugby.org
DES MOINES, Iowa – In its first appearance at the event, American Rugby Pro Training Center won the 2015 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Women’s Club 7s National Championship with a 21-17 defeat of Seattle Saracens at James W. Cownie Soccer Complex Sunday.
The USA Rugby Olympic Development Academy’s team held off San Diego Surfers, last year’s champion, in a 12-7 Cup Semifinal victory. Berkeley All Blues, 2013 champions and 4-0 headed into their Cup Semifinal, were handled by Seattle in a 19-0 shutout.
American Rugby Pro scored in the first minute of the Final after a switch set up by Jessica Liu at Seattle’s 10. By minute five, the group from Arkansas had a 14-0 lead and had kept Saracens from going forward with ball in hand. The restart after the second try was recovered by Seattle, but a fit defense and well-executed structure forced Saracens back towards the try line.
Seattle managed to get out of its half with the possession, and was awarded a penalty in the attacking side of the pitch. The attack pushed forward through phases, but individuals rather than the team tried to make a scoring play happen, and the referee called a penalty for crossing five meters from the in-goal area.
A quick turnover by American Rugby Pro gave Seattle possession, which it held for nearly the remainder of the match. After multiple first-half substitutions and breathers, Seattle found its attacking stride, and Ryan Carlyle made Jess Wooden miss near the corner of the try zone for the score.
The wide-angled conversion was unsuccessful for a 14-5 halftime score, and an 80-meter American Rugby Pro try in the 16th minute put the match out of reach for Seattle. Kelsi Stockert, who earned her first international caps for the Women’s Eagles at the Women’s Rugby Super Series, dotted down in the 20th minute to bring her team within nine points at 21-12 and was 15 meters from scoring a second in as many minutes before a try-saving tackle at the 22, and Carlyle added a consolation try before American Rugby Pro saw out the win.
“Good for them,” San Diego Surfers Coach and Women’s Eagles Sevens Assistant Coach Richie Walker said. “They played well against us [in the Semifinal] and deserved to win. It’s a great program that is striving for success on the field and in producing quality athletes.
“Hopefully more will see this and work to strive for the same.”
Wooden, who also recently earned her first international caps, was named Smith and Forge Hard Cider Most Valuable Player of the women’s competition in Iowa.
Life West rebounded from a close loss to American Rugby Pro in the Cup Quarterfinal Saturday to sweep its Sunday matches to win the Plate, while New York defeated Rocky Mountain Squids and ICEF Rugby to win the Bowl.