Miller: We won’t be the same squad

LONDON, Ontario – The Canadian women’s Under-20 team defeated the USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans, 51-5, Wednesday in the first match of the Under-20 Can-Am Series at London St. George’s Rugby Football Club.

The WJAAs were put under pressure early in the match and did not concede a try until the 16th minute. Play was then halted for an injury to Maya Learned, who required medical attention and a stretcher off of the field of play.

Canada’s first-half substitution came in the 13th minute, though Emma Jada did not make her mark on the wing until her try 10 minutes from the end of the half.

The WJAAs did not go into the break quietly, however, as a few well-worked attacks brought them closer and closer to the try line. Following a scrum five meters out, McKenzie Hawkins scored the WJAAs’ only try of the match with a well-timed run from the wing and a quick pass from a teammate.

The second half was all Canada, as the WJAAs struggled to get to midfield. Rainy, windy conditions did not help much, and the first match of the Can-Am Series belonged to Canada.

“We competed against Canada in the first half with heart and energy,” WJAA Head Coach Danielle Miller said. “The U.S. stumbled on attack but performed solid defensively with several defensive stands. Canada has a strong side with several returners from last year’s U20 Nations Cup as well as some of the players from their national sevens program and they challenged the young U.S. side.”

Miller has made three changes to Wednesday’s roster for Saturday’s rematch. Maya Learned returned home after sustaining an injury in the first match and will be replaced by Elizabeth Groff at prop. Fly-half Gabriella Cantorna will move to inside center, with Nikki Richardson stepping in for playmaking duties behind scrum-half Brianna Kim. Danielle Ordway makes room for Bridget Amoako on the wing.

“The WJAA coaches have hit the drawing board working on a strategy to match the efforts of the Canadian side,” Miller said. “We will not be the same squad that played Wednesday.

“The U.S. had one returner from the U20 Nations Cup and brought 24 players who had their first taste of international competition. The speed of the game and level of intensity of [Wednesday’s] international match was tough to mimic on a domestic field and the U.S. struggled to match the pace of Canada. Despite the score, no one can say the U.S. team lacks heart.

“These ladies have identified areas of Canadian weaknesses and have adjusted to their strengths. We have three productive practices to work through our kinks and get the girls ready for the second match.”

The second and final match of the 2014 Under-20 Women’s Can-Am Series will be held at Norm Perry Park in Sarnia Saturday, Aug. 23, at 7:00 P.M. ET. A live-stream will be available via Ustream by Rugby Canada. Follow live match updates on Twitter with @aarugby.

AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | v Canada
1. Elizabeth Groff
2. Etta MyLau
3. Abby Ellen Vogel
4. Katie Mueller
5. Melissa Hargadine
6. Frieda Fetuu
7. Gioanna Cruz
8. Kyla Chipman (Field Captain)
9. Brianna Kim (Vice Captain)
10. Nikki Richardson
11. Bridget Amoako
12. Gabriella Cantorna
13. McKenzie Hawkins
14. Caitlin "CJ" Whiteside
15. Lilly Durbin

AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | Reserves
16. Hope Wasserman
17. Sheila Decker
18. Azniv Nalbandian
19. Mata Hingano
20. Adrianna Zeiders
21. Ashley Rolsma
22. Ashlee Byrge
23. Danielle Ordway

AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | Under-20 Women's Can-Am Series
v Canada - Saturday, August 23 @ 7:00 P.M. ET - Norm Perry Park, Sarnia