Roster selected for AIG WCAAs' second match against Maple Leafs

SALT LAKE CITY - The AIG Women's Collegiate All-Americans will look to even the two-match series against Rugby Canada's Maple Leafs, a development side featuring players on the cusp of the country's senior national team, at Regional Athletic Complex Saturday.

The WCAAs fought valiantly to overturn a 15-3 halftime deficit Tuesday in a 15-10 defeat, keeping their opponent scoreless through 40 minutes while growing into the game and finding their place in Head Coach Sue Whitwell's game plan. Saturday's match will kick off at 11 a.m. MT, with the live broadcast available to viewers at no cost on The Rugby Channel.

Whitwell's team trained alongside the Women's Eagles throughout the week as the senior side prepares for its final match of the 2016 Women's Rugby Super Series against England, which is set to end the final day of competition in Utah at 3 p.m. MT.

If training with the Eagles was not enough, the WCAAs were also able to hold their captains run alongside their senior counterparts' training session at Regional Athletic Complex Friday, even participating in a controlled, full-contact scrimmage.

"Scrimmaging the Eagles allows them to prepare themselves for the actual match," Whitwell said. "Having solid contact against those women versus tapering down preparations late in the week is going to serve them well. They've prepared for the physicality of the game, which is going to be the biggest test."

Central Washington University's Jennifer Johnson will again captain the side from the second row, while 2016 USA Rugby College 7s and College 15s National Champion and former USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-American from Davenport University Danielle Ordway moves from the bench to the wing in the starting XV. Full back Nicole Benedetti, one of the first WCAA Sevens players at last year's Elite City Sevens, also moves into a starting role in place of Pennsylvania State University sophomore Tess Feury, who was called up to the Eagles for Saturday's test.

"Tess' selection with the national team is a huge indication that our pathway is working," Whitwell said. "To be a Collegiate All-American and know that it is a possibility to be moved up that quickly is a good sign that our programs are aligned, and we're moving these young athletes through to their ultimate destination."

Following Tuesday's match, Whitwell highlighted her team's ability to regain composure after a disappointing 20-minute spell late in the first half. The work in the short build-up period, she said, was more about polishing aspects of the game rather than overhauling any parts of the game plan.

"We've seen them piecing larger chunks of the plan together," the head coach said. "We had some players who worked hard at practice and really earned their spot on the field. We're starting to play a much more holistic game of rugby than we probably played on Tuesday."

Saturday's match is available to viewers on The Rugby Channel from 11 a.m. MT. Tickets are still available for the Super Series, hosted in conjunction with First15 Sport Performance, at Regional Athletic Complex.

AIG Women's Collegiate All-Americans | v. Maple Leafs
1. Rebekah Hebdon
2. Bridget Kahele
3. Azniv Nalbandian
4. Jennifer Johnson (C)
5. Haley Schafer
6. Yeja Dunn
7. Taylah Pipkin
8. Ilona Maher
9. Kat Ramage
10. Gabby Cantorna
11. Danielle Ordway
12. McKenzie Hawkins
13. Sarah Buonpane
14. Uzo Okoro
15. Nicole Benedetti

AIG Women's Collegiate All16. Frieda Fetu'u
17. Francesca Sands
18. Kaityln Broughton
19. Megan Rom
20. Jessica Lewis
21. Bailey Johnson
22. Elizabeth Rose
23. Lanoira Duhart

Maple Leafs | v. USA
1. Brittany Kassil
2. Megan Copeland-Dinan
3. Chelsea Minter
4. Camille Provencal-Aube
5. Daria Keane
6. Gillian Boag
7. Sara Svoboda
8. Gabby Senft
9. Lori Josephson (C)
10. Jess Neilson
11. Lisa Gauthier
12. Mackenzie Higgs
13. Julia Goss
14. Natasha Smith
15. Alanna Fittes

Maple Leafs | Reserves16. Kathleen Keller
17. Colleen Irowa
18. Simone Savary
19. Emma Taylor
20. Ngalula Fuamba
21. Justine Pelletier
22. Gillian Allen
23. Petra Woods

AIG Women's Collegiate Allv. Maple Leafs - L 15-10
v. Maple Leafs - Saturday, July 9 @ 11 a.m. MT - Regional Athletic Complex