AIG WCAAs return from Canada with tour sweep

The USA Rugby AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans went 2-0 in their recent Canada tour.

Having only seen the athletes perform at two separate regional combine camps, WCAA Head Coach Martha Daines had the task of getting 25 rugby players from around the country to come together in less than a week to take on some of Canada’s best talent.

Daines accomplished this feat as the WCAAs produced a nail-biting, 24-17, win over the Ontario Storm, before trampling the Ontario Junior Storm, 63-7, two days later.

The first match kicked off Friday evening, July 18, at the University of Toronto-Scarborough. It was a fast-paced game from the opening whistle to the final play. Ontario's off-loading offense provided the WCAA defense with a challenge in the first half as Daines’ team found it hard to maintain and regain possession. The host team scored the first two tries before Amy Naber put the WCAAs on the scoreboard in the 34th minute, and Megan Foster’s successful conversion sent her team into halftime trailing only 10-7.

In the second half, the All-Americans improved their offensive support and were able to capitalize on forced turnovers. While Ontario opened the scoring in the 58th minute, the WCAAs scored three late, unanswered tries. The points came from Jordan Gray, Kristen Thomas, and Natalie Kosko. Kosko scored the final try in the 80th minute to secure the win. Daines attributes the late tries to, “defensive pressure, some excellent team work on offense, and great individual efforts by all fifteen players.”

The Ontario Storm recognized Gray and Erin Overcash for their outstanding play, while Daines added, “Overcash's leadership at captain was instrumental in connecting the players both on and off the field.”

The second game was played Sunday, July 20, against the Ontario U-20s. The style of play, while slower than the first game, provided more time and space for the All-Americans to attack on offense.

Anne Peterson, Nicole Benedetti, Thomas, and Overcash all had two tries apiece, while Lara Gartner, Stephanie Goetz and Elena Cantorna each had one try.

All of the tries may have been completed by backs, however it was the hard-running forwards who were able to disrupt the Ontario defense and allow the speedy backs to take advantage of the field. The final score was 63-7.

Thomas and Rosie Russell were designated by the Ontario U-20s as the players of the second match for the WCAAs.

“I was very impressed by the way the team came together in a very short amount of time,” Daines said after the completion of the tour.

Staff for the tour included: Susan Whitwell and Brandon Sparks, assistant coaches; Carrie Dubray and Ryan Moton, team managers; Bri Arsenault, trainer.

Daines – along with her staff and the players – are looking to come together to play one more time this year.

USA Rugby AIG Women's Collegiate All-Americans | Canada Tour

Baylee AnnisNorwich University
Hannah BellNorwich University
Nicole BenedettiWest Chester University
Catie BensonPennsylvania State University
Elena CantornaPennsylvania State University
Maxine FonuaStanford University
Megan FosterCalifornia State University - Chico
Lara GartnerGeorgia Tech
Stephanie GoetzJames Madison University
Jordan GrayBrigham Young University
Christy HaneyUniversity of Virginia
Bailey JohnsonSt. Cloud University
Natalie KoskoQuinnipiac University
Sabrina KraftCalifornia State University - Fullerton
Jessica LewisUniversity of California - Berkeley
Shelby LinHarvard University
Amy NaberUniversity of Arizona
Melissa OlmanMolloy College
Erin OvercashUniversity of Colorado
Erika PedersenU.S. Naval Academy
Anne PetersonWashington State University
Rosie RussellUniversity of California - Berkeley
Haley SchaferAmerican International College
Kristen ThomasCentral Florida University
Madison WilliamsColorado State University