Athletic lineup named for Eagles first World Cup match against Italy

DUBLIN, Ireland - Head Coach Pete Steinberg has named his squad for the Eagles' first match of the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup against Italy Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the UCD Bowl in Dublin. The game kicks off at 11:30 a.m. ET, and can be seen live in the U.S. with a subscription to NBC Sports Gold's Rugby Pass.

"We're excited after our month together to finally get to play," Steinberg said. "We know Italy is going to be a good challenge and that they've got a lot of international experience, but we're excited about the potential this team has."

Tighthead prop Tiffany Faaee will captain the side that sees six changes from the starting lineup that defeated the Women's Premier League All-Stars in a friendly last month. Included in those changes is the injection of hooker Katy Augustyn and a new-look backrow. Blindside flanker Sara Parsons keeps hold of her No. 6 jersey, but will be aided around the breakdown by fellow flanker Kate Zackary and No. 8 Jordan Gray. All starting loose forwards have spent time on the World Rugby Sevens Series, and should cover plenty of ground Wednesday.

Familiarity resides in the half backs, with scrum half Deven Owsiany feeding fly half Kimber Rozier the ball. In the midfield, a calming presence resides at inside center in veteran Sylvia Braaten. Fellow center Nicole Heavirland is one of four full-time Women's Eagles Sevens residents in the starting lineup, with a couple more ready to make an impact off the bench.

The other three regulars to the World Rugby Sevens stage in the starting lineup are in the outside backs. Cheta Emba's inclusion in the first-XV as full back makes for an extremely fleet-footed back-three. The Harvard graduate will be flanked by fliers Naya Tapper and Kristen Thomas, both of whom have proven to be potent finishers in both codes of the game.

"We're inexperienced, but we're athletic, and we have to grow into the World Cup," Steinberg noted of his squad. "The players have worked really hard, and we've had two really good days of practice leading into this game. We're looking forward to playing together, and showing the world what the U.S. can do."

The first of three pool matches will be the Women's Eagles' second contest against Italy. The first fixture between the two countries came in 2012 when the Eagles pulled off a 34-20 victory in Rome. The 14-point win saw Augustyn and Rozier make their international debuts.

USA enters the match ranked No. 7 in the world, while the Italians are currently ranked No. 9.

World Rugby is live streaming the entire tournament on the event's official website, however tomorrow's game between the USA and Italy will be geo-blocked in the U.S. Fans in America have an opportunity to watch the game live via NBC Sports Gold's Rugby Pass - a subscription-based package that will make all three of the Eagles' pool matches available to watch live.

USA Women's Eagles | v. Italy

1. Catie Benson
2. Katy Augustyn
3. Tiffany Faaee (C)
4. Stacey Bridges
5. Alycia Washington
6. Sara Parsons
7. Kate Zackary
8. Jordan Gray
9. Deven Owsiany
10. Kimber Rozier
11. Kristen Thomas
12. Sylvia Braaten
13. Nicole Heavirland
14. Naya Tapper
15. Cheta Emba

USA Women's Eagles | Reserves16. Samantha Pankey
17. Nai Reddick
18. Hope Rogers
19. Abby Gustaitis
20. Kristine Sommer
21. Kayla Canett-Oca
22. Alev Kelter
23. Jessica Javelet

USA Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 Coaching StaffHead Coach
Peter Baggetta - Associate Head Coach
Richie Walker - Assistant Coach
Liz Kirk - Assistant Coach
Richard Ashfield - Assistant Coach
Ian Gibbons - Head of Physical Performance
Katie Gloyer - Physician
Michelle Look - Physician
Amy Valenta - Physiotherapist
Sarah Leslie - Physiotherapist
Bri Arsenault - Physiotherapist
Caitlin Singletary - Video Analyst
Julie Sutcliffe - Sports Psychologist
Amie Kern - Assistant Manager & Massage Therapist
Jeremy Castro - Media Manager
Roshna Wunderlich - Manager