Few changes made to Eagles squad seeking 2-0 Women’s World Cup start versus Spain

The Eagles’ second match of the 2017 Women’s World Cup, which kicks off 9:45 a.m. ET, can be watched live on NBC Sports Gold's Rugby Pass.

DUBLIN, Ireland - Three changes have been made in the Eagles squad that will look to improve their 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup record to 2-0 when they face Spain Sunday, Aug. 13 at the UCD Bowl in Dublin starting at 9:45 a.m. ET.

Tighthead prop Tiffany Faaee will once again lead the team out as the captain and lineup in a front row that sees one change. Sam Pankey starts in the No. 2 jumper, and hooker Katy Augustyn will move to the bench. Catie Benson remains at loosehead prop after proving to be an affective ball carrier in the Eagles 24-12 win over Italy to open their World Cup campaign.

Likewise, there's one change to the second row with Abby Gustaitis swamping places with Alycia Washington. Gustaitis come off the bench July 9 to score one of four tries the Eagles dotted down against the Italians.

The back three is the lone unit amongst the forwards that remains intact from the bonus-point win earlier this week. Head Coach Pete Steinberg felt the trio of Jordan Gray, Sara Parsons and Kate Zackary "really imposed themselves physically on the game" versus Italy. Parsons went on to be named Player of the Match for her comprehensive role playing blindside flanker.

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The only change in the backline comes in the form of Alev Kelter. The 2017 World Rugby Sevens Series Dream Team member was able to penetrate Italy's defense as a second half replacement, and will get her opportunity in the No. 13 jersey against Spain. Sylvia Braaten, who started in the centers for Game 1 of the World Cup will begin Sunday's fixture on the bench. Playing alongside Kelter in the centers is a familiar face in sevens running mate Nicole Heavirland.

The back three, whom Steinberg was especially impressed with following the Italy match, won't shy away from keeping the ball in-hand when in space. Kristen Thomas wound up on the statsheet from Wedensday's game, scoring a pair of tries, but full back Cheta Emba wing Naya Tapper were just as dangerous on attack.

The overall speed of the backline, although not on full display against Italy according to Steinberg, can be the difference in shutting down Spain's attack.

"One of the things I feel like we can be really good at is line speed," noted Steinberg. "Spain loves to move the ball, so we really need to put them under some defensive pressure. Line speed and really getting after the contest at the tackle area will be the big things on defense."

Offensively, Steinberg liked the speed in which his team played with, but more organization is needed when playing at that pace.

"Our structure wasn't quite right, so we weren't able to source the rucks when it got wide the way we wanted to. We'll have to make sure our structure is right, but we're pretty happy with where we are."

Spain's initial match of the 2017 Women's World Cup was a difficult bout, losing to reigning World Champions England, 56-5. The Spaniard's second match of the tournament will be the team's third-ever fixture against the United States. The Eagles won the first two contests, although the two haven't met since 2002. The first meeting was in 1998 Women's World Cup when the Eagles beat Spain, 38-16 in Amsterdam. Fifteen years ago the Eagles downed Spain again in the 2002 Women's World Cup, 23-5, in Barcelona.

The Eagles' second match of the 2017 Women's World Cup, which kicks off at 9:45 a.m. ET, can be watched live on NBC Sports Gold's Rugby Pass for viewers in the United States. Eagle supporters outside of America can watch Sunday's game versus Spain live on the official website of the Women's World Cup.

Women's Eagles | v. Italy

1. Catie Benson

2. Samantha Pankey

3. Tiffany Faaee (C)

4. Stacey Bridges

5. Abby Gustaitis

6. Sara Parsons

7. Kate Zackary

8. Jordan Gray

9. Deven Owsiany

10. Kimber Rozier

11. Kristen Thomas

12. Alev Kelter

13. Nicole Heavirland

14. Naya Tapper

15. Cheta Emba

USA Women's Eagles | Reserves

16. Katy Augustyn

17. Jamilla Reinhardt

18. Hope Rogers

19. Alycia Washington

20. Kristine Sommer

21. Kayla Canett-Oca

22. Sylvia Braaten

23. Jessica Javelet

USA Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 Coaching Staff

Pete Steinberg - Head 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

Roshna Wunderlich - Manager

USA Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby World Cup 2017

v. Spain - Sunday, Aug. 13 @ 9:45 a.m. ET

v. England - Thursday, Aug. 17 @ 9:30 a.m. ET

Semifinals - Tuesday, Aug. 22

Finals - Saturday, Aug. 26