Women’s Eagles Sevens finish Series with Amsterdam Plate victory

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – The Women’s Eagles Sevens finished the 2013-14 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in seventh place after a convincing Plate Final victory against Russia at Amsterdam Women’s Sevens Saturday.

In just her first appearance on the circuit for the Eagles, Hannah Lopez added three tries to her tournament tally on day two to bring her total to seven, good for joint-third with New Zealand’s Carla Hohepa. New Zealand’s Kayla McAlister and Australia’s Emilee Cherry tied for first with nine tries in Amsterdam.

The Eagles advanced to the Cup Quarterfinal with a second-place finish in their pool on day one, but failed to reach the Semifinal with a 28-19 loss to Canada. Kelly Griffin gave the Eagles the lead less than 30 seconds into the match, but Canada scored three tries before the end of the first half to keep the Eagles out of reach. Jillion Potter and Alev Kelter added tries in the second half, but there was not enough time to find two more tries.

The Eagles got back to winning ways against Brazil in the Plate Semifinal, keeping their perfect record against the 2016 Olympic Summer Games host at 4-0. Lopez and Victoria Folayan each scored two tries in the 34-0 win. Potter and Lauren Doyle rounded out the scoring, while Amelia Villines kicked two conversions.

Fourth-place Russia awaited the Eagles in the Plate Final. Leading try-scorer Ekaterina Kasakova scored five tries for the Bears in their run-up to the Final, including two in their 20-5 victory against South Africa in pool play. Russia fell to France, Australia, and New Zealand before figuring out a way to beat France in the Plate Semifinal.

Lopez and Folayan combined on an early Eagles attack in the first minute to set up Villines for the match’s first try. Lopez then scored her seventh try of the tournament in the fourth minute after a penalty against the Bears allowed her space on the wing.

Down 10-0, Kasakova willed Russia into the match with a 60-meter, individual try from the restart. The try was converted, bringing Russia within three points at 10-7. Doyle gave the Eagles some breathing room in the final minute of the opening frame after Folayan broke through a few tackles to near the try line. Villines converted the try.

Alena Bogacheva found the try zone before the first-half whistle to cut the deficit again to 17-12.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams hindered by penalties. Griffin and Potter broke the scoreless streak in the 13th minute and Doyle added the insurance marker not long after for the 27-12 victory.

The Eagles replicated their finish in the inaugural Women’s Sevens World Series event in Amsterdam, in which they won the Plate against Spain last year. The 2012-13 Eagles finished fourth overall in the Series standings compared to this year’s seventh-place finish, however.

Younger players and crossover athletes in the squad gained valuable experience over the course of the season, which will benefit the team as it prepares to qualify for Rio 2016 during next year’s Series.