Final Eagles roster for Super Series announced

SALT LAKE CITY - The Women's Eagles conclude the 2016 Women's Rugby Super Series Saturday, July 9, against Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 Champion England at Regional Athletic Complex.

Stacey Bridges once again captains the team in Utah having led the U.S. to a slim defeat to Women's 6 Nationsl Champion France last Friday and a loss to World Cup runner-up Canada Tuesday. Saturday's match kicks off at 3 p.m. MT following the AIG Women's Collegiate All-Americans' rematch against Rugby Canada's Maple Leafs at 11 a.m. MT and Canada's Series-deciding bout with France at 1 p.m. MT. All matches will be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel (subscription required for senior tests).

With an eye towards a fall tour to France, Associate Head Coach Peter Baggetta will lead the Eagles from the manager's box Saturday, as Head Coach Pete Steinberg will be absent from the team later this year for personal reasons. From days with the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union to Penn State and the national team, Baggetta not only has the trust and respect of his colleague, but of the players, as well.

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"I think you can safely say we've both developed our coaching philosophies and philosophies of the game together," Steinberg said. "There are very few people I've met in America that understand the game the way Peter understands it in the detail he understands it and is able to present such a clear vision to the team."

Peter Baggetta (L) with Pete Steinberg (R)
Paul Rudman

"It helps that we've been coaching together for about a dozen years," Baggetta added. "It won't be that much different for the players. The processes will stay the same."

Following a whirlwind week of training at University of Utah and matches at Regional Athletic Complex since the start of the Series, the Eagles had a full day of recovery Wednesday before jumping back on the horse Thursday. Friday sees the team ramping up its preparations with a morning session prior to a captains run on the game-day field with the WCAAs.

One Collegiate All-American will be suiting up with the Eagles Saturday, as Nittany Lion Tess Feury has been called up to the senior side reserves for her first potential cap. Just a sophomore at D1 Elite National Champion Penn State, Feury has played with the Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS, the AIG Women's Junior All-Americans, and the WCAAs, as well as several representative sides domestically and internationally. Her play at full back against the Maple Leafs, a senior development side, Tuesday, combined with her showings at National All-Star Competitions and previous age-grade tours, gave the coaching staff assurances she could step up to the international level if needed.

"This is a great example of the combined pathway that we've put together working at its best," Baggetta said. "I think this sends a clear message to the All-Americans. The feedback I received when they announced the selections to the WCAAs was that the team was excited for Tess and really supportive of her.

"What I would hope is that all of those players that are with the All-Americans are thinking in the back of their minds, 'This could be me. I could be the one that could get called up.'"

Cheta Emba and Jane Paar returned to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., Wednesday for Richie Walker's pre-Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games camp. Paar started at center against France and Emba was on the wing for both matches played so far. Naya Tapper, also in consideration for Olympic selection, will get her first start with the XVs national team Saturday having scored a try in two substitute appearances this month. World Cup veteran Sylvia Braaten steps into the starting XV, partnering young Nate Serevi in the midfield.

Christiane Pheil and Alycia Washington reclaim starting roles in the forwards, as well, while scrum half Jennifer Lui will run the offense alongside fly half Kimber Rozier for the second consecutive game.

The loss to Canada sent the U.S. to the bottom of the Super Series table, where it trails third-place England by a single point. Compared to an even younger team a year ago that saw more than a dozen players earn their first caps - and beat Canada - this year's Eagles have improved their play despite results thus far.

"We were willing to take that risk," Baggetta said of debuting 13 players against England north of the border in 2015. "We're starting to see the fruits of that. We've been creating opportunities, which is a big step forward for us as a team because in the past we haven't created as many opportunities. What we have to do is exploit to finish those opportunities, and that's where experience comes in.

"If you look at the first half of Tuesday's Canada game, until they scored that last try it's a 10-5 game and it's a dogfight going back and forth. They scored at the end of the half and I think for a number of players that was really difficult. I met with the leadership team; we have to start believing we can win these games. That self-belief is really important."

The four teams at the Super Series are about 13 months out from the eighth Women's Rugby World Cup, and find themselves in a similar position in the World Cup cycle as the 2013 Nations Cup was for the 2014 tournament. A young Canada squad had defeated England for the first time in a World Cup Final preview, and Baggetta sees the Eagles in a similar development stage leading into next year's quadrennial in Ireland.

England conceded 52 points to Canada in its opening match of the tournament, and eventually overcame France with a last-second try in Tuesday's match. Another team that has played several tests this year, England also has a multitude of experience on its roster, led by captain Sarah Hunter (80 caps) and forward partner Tamara Taylor (93 caps).

"They play a different style than both France and Canada," Baggetta said of the U.S.'s final Series opponent. "We feel that there are some areas we can take advantage of with the way that England plays.

"It's been a long time since we've beaten England, so it's always been a target."

The Eagles' final match of the 2016 Women's Rugby Super Series is scheduled to kick off from Regional Athletic Complex at 3 p.m. MT. The WCAA match against Canada's Maple Leafs will open the day at 11 a.m. MT - with the live broadcast available at no charge to viewers on The Rugby Channel - prior to Canada-France. The senior matches will also be available on The Rugby Channel to subscribers.

Women's Eagles | v. England

1. Catherine Benson

2. Kathryn Augustyn

3. Hope Rogers

4. Stacey Bridges (C)

5. Alycia Washington

6. Christiane Pheil

7. Elizabeth Cairns

8. Jordan Gray

9. Jennifer Lui

10. Kimberly Rozier

11. Naya Tapper

12. Sylvia Braaten

13. Nate Serevi

14. Saskia Morgan

15. Jessica Wooden

Women's Eagles | Reserves

16. Samantha Pankey

17. Tiffany Faaee

18. Jamila Reinhardt

19. Molly Kinsella

20. Nicole Strasko

21. Deven Owsiany

22. Megan Foster

23. Tess Feury

England | v. USA

1. Victoria Cornborough

2. Amy Cokayne

3. Laura Keates

4. Harriet Millar-Mills

5. Tamara Taylor

6. Alex Matthews

7. Izzy Noel-Smith

8. Sarah Hunter (C)

9. Bianca Blackburn

10. Amber Reed

11. Lotte Clapp

12. Ceri Large

13. Lauren Cattell

14. Lydia Thompson

15. Fiona Pocock

England | Reserves

16. Lark Davies

17. Rochelle Clark

18. Sarah Bern

19. Zoe Aldcroft

20. Poppy Leitch

21. Leanne Riley

22. Millie Wood

23. Katie Mason

Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby Super Series

v. France - L 19-13

v. Canada - L 33-5

v. England - Saturday, July 9 @ 3 p.m. MT