Teams in the Mid-Atlantic headed into their second 7s qualifier, some looking to cement their chances of making an appearance at Nationals, others looking to claw their way back into the frame.
At the Rites of Summer tournament in Elkridge, Md., the second leg of the Mid-Atlantic saw the Scion Rugby Academy capture its second title and the Beltway Elite snatch victory from 19-0 hole to win its first competition.
After last weekend, Scion shook up the lineup bringing in new players like Annakaren Pedreza and Nate Serevi to complement the veteran core of Kiki Morgan, Maggie Myles, Lauren Rhode, and Jade McGrath.
Scion sailed through pool play by a combined score of 84-7 and in the other group, NOVA's first side went 2-0 against the D.C. Furies 1 and NOVA 2. In the cup semifinals, Scion beat NOVA 2, 26-5, and NOVA doubled up Philadelphia, 27-12.
In the final, Scion's ball control offense starved NOVA of possession to shut them out, 19-0. McGrath, Morgan, and Ally Gallagher each scored in the championship and Rhode converted two of her three kicks.
Coach Joanne Liu indicated that the tournament victory came down to patience and discipline. "It was less our defense and more the patience and discipline we showed on offense to give us more possession of the ball... Now, we have 18 solid players that all deserve to go to Nationals and we have to narrow it down to 12."
Based on the results of the first two tournaments, Scion, NOVA, and the Furies have qualified for Nationals with one more MAC tournament left on July 14th.
On the men's side, the berth to Nationals is up for grabs. The same two teams met in Saturday's final and it was the Beltway Elite's time to score on the last play to win the cup.
"Schuylkill River came out really hot racking up 19 points in the first half," Beltway's Roland Pratt said. "We were down big but the guys kept their composure and Joe Hughes was able to get a converted score and we were right back in it."
"After some good ebbs and flows and we were lucky to get a quick turnover and Will Taylor scored. Dave Hightower did the superman things he has been doing for years and caught the ball off the kickoff with no time left, beat three men, and scored under the posts. It was just an incredible feat by Dave and Taylor knocked the conversion over to seal the victory. We lost the final on the last play last week and to win on the last play this week was terribly satisfying."
Beltway Elite went undefeated cruising through NOVA, Washington, and the Washington Irish to the playoffs. Schuylkill took a similar path beating Rocky Gorge, Old Gaelic, and the Pittsburgh Pandas. In the semifinals, Schuylkill edged NOVA by three points and Beltway dominated Old Gaelic, 47-7.
"This week was a turning point for us," Pratt concluded. "We had excellent training sessions and dialed up the intensity. We brought that into our games and ran the table... I wouldn't like to be 19 nil down every week, but it was very satisfying to win the final. It was a great day for the Beltway guys having everybody win."