Selections made for Can-Am Series in Chula Vista

UPDATE | March 26

Phaidra Knight has been called into the USA Women's Eagles' Can-Am camp in place of Sam Pankey.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The USA Women's Eagles will assemble at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center starting Thursday, March 23, for two Can-Am Series matches against Rugby Canada's third-ranked international side.

Thirty-four athletes in total could be called upon for match days Tuesday, March 28, and Saturday, April 1, with several others attending but unavailable for selection due to injury. The first international test for the Eagles in 2017 will be streamed live via USA Rugby's Facebook page Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. Tickets are still available for the Saturday match - the final test ahead of Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 - which will be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel to subscribers at 6 p.m. ET


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"We are excited to host our northern neighbors, and hope that the San Diego rugby community will be able to support the Women's Eagles and come out and watch the team play one of the top teams in the world," Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. "This is the first chance we have had this cycle to bring all the players together, and I think we have the opportunity to do something special in Ireland."

The Eagles played five tests in 2016, including one match against border rival Canada at the Salt Lake City-hosted Women's Rugby Super Series. Eighteen players that saw action in Utah and a further three athletes that traveled to France for a two-match November Tour have been included in the Can-Am assembly, while eight could debut on the international stage next week.

Stacey Bridges, the most-capped Eagle in the squad with 27 appearances, is one of five Women's Rugby World Cup veterans available to Steinberg and staff. Prop Sarah Chobot, a U.S. captain at the 2015 Super Series, will arrive in Southern California following the first match day to replace forward Baylee Annis. Young Hope Rogers - captain on the November Tour - as well as Cheta Emba and Kate Zackary are unavailable due to injury, but will be in attendance at camp to strengthen the team's continuity through the year.


View #WRWC2017 player pool


Alev Kelter leads a group of 11 athletes training full-time in Chula Vista that will vie for roster spots against Canada, with the Women's Eagles Sevens captain and teammate Joanne Fa'avesi having earned XVs debuts in November. Capped on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, 19-year-old Kayla Canett, Hunter Griendling, Kelly Griffin, Bulou Mataitoga, Ashley Perry, Kristine Sommer, and Kristen Thomas are all in line for their own debuts.

Rogers and Sam Pankey have benefitted from the new XVs residency program at the Training Center, which has seen them both make the move to the sevens squad for recent Series legs. The coordination between the two codes is strengthened even further by the addition of Sevens Head Coach Richie Walker to Steinberg's coaching staff. Walker has worked to identify and bring up athletes to the senior level in both forms of the game, and brings an extra attacking perspective to the XVs Eagles. Seattle Saracens' forwards coach, Liz Kirk, has also been added to the staff.

"I am excited to be working with Liz and Richie at the Can-Am," Steinberg said. "Liz brings a wealth of experience as an Eagle and a coach and has already had a big impact on our pack. In addition to working with Richie domestically, I saw firsthand what a great coach he is at the Olympics in Rio.

"New player and coach combinations offer challenges, but we have a schedule this summer that will give us all time to continue to build on what we have done over the last three years. Games like this are critical for us to get those combinations working together."

The Eagles hold a slim advantage in the border rivalry with 18 wins from 34 matches. Canada, runner-up to England at the World Cup in 2014, won four of six matches played in 2016, including a defeat of the U.S. in Utah. The 35th and 36th meetings will determine the winner of the Can-Am Series and the Can-Am Trophy, which will be presented to the team that aggregates the most points by the conclusion of the April 1 match.

The Tuesday matchup will be played behind closed doors, but Saturday's event is open to the public. Tickets start at $10 if purchased online and can be acquired for $15 at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. The match will be held at the venue's South Field and is set to be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel.

USA Women's Eagles | Can-Am Series
Baylee Annis - Seattle Saracens
Kathryn Augustyn - Berkeley All Blues
Catherine Benson - Life West
Sylvia Braaten - Twin Cities Amazons
Stacey Bridges - Twin Cities Amazons
Kayla Canett* - Pennsylvania State University
Ryan Carlyle - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Sarah Chobot - Glendale Raptors
Joanne Fa'avesi - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Tiffany Faaee - New York Rugby Club
Tess Feury - Pennsylvania State University
Megan Foster - Life West
Jordan Gray - Life West
Hunter Griendling* - San Diego Surfers
Kelly Griffin* - Unattached
Nicole Heavirland - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Alev Kelter - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Molly Kinsella - San Diego Surfers
Joanna Kitlinski - Glendale Raptors
Phaidra Knight - New York Rugby Club
Bulou Mataitoga* - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Samantha Pankey - San Diego Surfers
Sara Parsons - Northern Virginia Rugby
Annakaren Pedraza* - Lindenwood University
Ashley Perry* - American Rugby Pro Training Center
Christiane Pheil - Chicago North Shore
Naima Reddick - Seattle Saracens
Jamila Reinhardt - San Diego Surfers
Kristine Sommer* - Seattle Saracens
Kelsi Stockert - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Nicole Strasko - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Naya Tapper - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Kristen Thomas* - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Alycia Washington - New York Rugby Club
Jess Wooden - Aylesford Rugby Club
*Indicates player uncapped at international test level

USA Women's Eagles | Non-Traveling Reserves
Abby Gustaitis - Northern Virginia Rugby
Rebekah Hebdon - Brigham Young University

Nicole Snyder - Bloomsburg University

USA Women's Eagles | Unavailable/Injured
Kate Daley - New York Rugby Club
Cheta Emba* - Women's Eagles Sevens USA
Hope Rogers* - San Diego Surfers
Kimber Rozier - Scion Sirens
Kate Zackary* - San Diego Surfers
*Will be in attendance but unavailable for selection

USA Women's Eagles | Coaching Staff
Pete Steinberg - Head Coach
Richie Walker - Assistant Coach
Liz Kirk - Assistant Coach
Adam Russell - HP Director
Sarah Leslie - Physiotherapist
Bri Arsenault - Physiotherapist
Michelle Look - Physician
Ian Gibbons - Strength and Conditioning
Caitlin Singletary - Video Analyst
Jake Reed - Analyst
Amie Kern - Assistant Manager & Massage Therapist
Roshna Wunderlich - Manager

USA Women's Eagles | Can-Am Series
v. Canada - Tuesday, March 28 @ 7 p.m. ET
v. Canada - Saturday, April 1 @ 6 p.m. ET