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.

 Paul Rudman | Michael Lee / KLC fotos

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