A united first half allows GHSAA to close gap

“The future of the GHSAA program is extremely bright. These girls play a dynamic style of rugby that I think will continue to push us forward" - Head Coach Farrah Douglas

OTTAWA - The Girls High School All-Americans, Powered by Atavus, ended their 2017 Can-Am Series with an improved performance versus Canada's U-18's program. Although the final result was a 25-5 loss for USA, the points allowed margin got cut in half from Tuesday's first game.

"After the first match, we realized we could've brought more to the game" said Grant High School's Tiana A'au. "As a team, we held each other accountable and made efforts to create a positive training environment over the last few days that fueled us for game day. "

USA came out of the gates firing, which resulted in Canada drawing a penalty in their own 22. With a chance to get points on the board, DiMarco had a great strike but the ball went just right of the posts. Canada took advantage of the 22-meter awarded after the missed kick, and quick play carried them up field. The big run resulted in a try for the Canadians in their usual pick-and-go fashion after a penalty.

The wind was a contributing factor, as every kick throughout the match were missed. More Canadian penalties and urgency from the GHSAA allowed USA to march back down the field. Canada proved to not back down either, though, as a counter attack after a USA kick gave Canada's No. 10 Taylor Black the chance to use her dummy and fend to get into the try zone. USA answered back with a try of its own from Montana-native and No. 8 Julia Riekena after smooth ball movement and ruck possession. The kick was once again missed.

"Emilie and I always reinforce with the players our confidence in their understanding and ability to execute our game plan," said Head Coach Farrah Douglas regarding the strong first half. "I think that knowledge coupled with their connection and bond as a team gave them the freedom to grieve our first loss, take what we needed to learn from it and go forward."

The rest of the match saw no more points scored for the United States and plenty of stern defense. A no-wrap tackle by No. 12 Lolo Makaafi late in the second half put her in the sin bin with a yellow card from the sir. But the All-Americans kept up the defensive stand even with the disciplinary circumstances. A poor pass in the American's 22-meter led to a frantically sliced kick that ended up in Canadian possession. The scrambled USA defense tried to recover but Canada was able to find the corner for the last try of the game. The final score was 25-5, still a victory for Canada, but a more prepared All-American defense kept less points off the board than the first match of the series.

Douglas went on to tell us how confident she is that "the future of the GHSAA program is extremely bright. These girls play a dynamic style of rugby that I think will continue to push us forward and in four to eight years, we just might see a shift in the global powerhouse of rugby."

The GHSAA program's next competition assembly will be in the sevens code in France, September 18-19, where the All-Americans look to build off the success they had in  2016's Rugby Europe 7s Championship where they captured silver in a close final.

GHSAA | v. Canada
1. Haungatau
2. Jordan Cowan
3. Tiara A'au
4. Samantha Tancredi
5. Gracie Cartwright
6. Sharyf Mayer
7. Elizabeth Wilson
8. Julia Riekena
9. Morgan Freeman
10. Alexandra DiMarco
11. Cassidy Bargell (C)
12. Lolohea Makaafi
13. Tiana A'Au
14. Malery Billingy
15. Allison Koenig

GHSAA Reserves | v. Canada
16. Kateleen Dela Paz
17. Madison Jumper
18. Madylyn Becker
20. Haley Harris
21. Leilani Mendoza
22. Matja Saarenheimo-Vanderhorst
23. Salote Tausinga
24. Brianna Vasquez

Canada | v. GHSAA
1. Holly Phillips, Alberta
2. Brianna Martey
3. Tanika Bonneville
4. Alyson MacDougall
5. Valerie Wideskie
6. Courtney Holtkamp, Alberta
7. Shaye Tudor (C)
8. Celia Martensson
9. Alayna Scramstad
10. Taylor Black
11. Bridget Peros
12. Lily Stewart, Ontario
13. Brogan Mior
14. Sarah Hoerig
15. Hunter Czeppel
16. Lauren Melanson
17. Rori Wood
18. Idia Ihensekhien
19. Vyktoria Brochu
20. Berlyn Seselja
21. Erika Barton
22. Kyra Maybee
23. Emma Frey

USA | 5
Tries: Riekena
Disciplines: Makaafi (Yellow)

Canada | 25
Tries: Wideskie (2), Black, Czeppel, Brochu