Women's Eagles Sevens: 2018 Sydney 7s Preview

Women's Eagles Sevens travel to Sydney in second-place

SYDNEY, AUS. - With an opportunity to improve from second-place, the Women's Eagles Sevens make their next stop in the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series at the 2018 Sydney 7s Tournament Jan. 25-27 LIVE and for FREE on The Rugby Channel.

Following weeks of rest and an effective training schedule, the United States will face England, Japan and New Zealand in Pool B beginning Thu, Jan. 25.

THIS SERIES LAST TIMEAfter earning only a single win in pool play at the 2017 Dubai Sevens Tournament, the Women's Eagles Sevens made a strong run that allowed them to finish 7 spots higher than in their Series start last year. 

In the Cup Quarter Final, the Eagles stunned audiences with the biggest upset of the tournament when they beat former Series Champion New Zealand. Lead by a game-winning try from Kelsi Stockert -- who scored within moments of emerging from the bench --  then sealed with a conversion by Alev Kelter, the Eagles rolled to a 14-12 victory.

During the Cup Semifinal, Kelter helped the Eagles clinch another one with her 14 points (2 tries; 2 conversions) to seal the win against Russia. Though Australia ultimately took the Cup, the Women's Eagles left Dubai with the Silver, 18 points in the tournament and second place overall.

WHO TO WATCH will travel to Sydney currently ranked in the Top 5 for conversions and serving as the team's leading scorer with 29 total points. Her kicking efforts were not alone, however, as she and returning Captain Nicole Heavirland both combined to put the United States in the Top 5 as a team for conversions.

Heavirland and Kelter are joined by standout Naya Tapper who leads the pack in tries scored (5) and continues to shine en route to exceed her second-place ranking for overall tries scored last Series.

Cheta Embamakes her return to the scene after scoring her first Series try at the 2016 Dubai Sevens tournament where, like her teammate Stockert, she sealed the game-winner in spectacular fashion against Russia. Though Stockert will not be making the trip to Sydney, Natalie Kosko will join the pack to begin her second Series with Head Coach Richie Walker and the Sydney-bound squad. 


HEAR IT FROM THE HEAD COACH

On momentum coming out of Dubai ... 
"We came out of Dubai finishing second which was a great achievement for us as Dubai hasn't been one of our best stops in the past. We have a lot of work to do and our mission for Australia is to better perform as a team and to be more consistent. The momentum from Dubai definitely helps us do that."

On camp ...
"Our focus for camp was to pick the best squad we could for Australia and really get better as a team once that squad got selected."

On pool play matchups ... 
"Every pool is tough these days and for us it is one game at a time. England is going to be strong and really coming back into form with some players returning. Japan is a well-drilled and disciplined team and New Zealand we have seen a lot of over the last year as they are always ready and the current World Series champions."

THE COMPETITIONFirst up for the United States is England who returns to the pitch in 8th place after a loss to Spain in the Dubai Sevens 7th Place Playoff sent them home with only 6 points in the standings. Japan, who finished last with only 1 point will be second, followed by 5th place New Zealand (12pts) who will be determined to rectify their upset by USA last tournament.

Women's Eagles Sevens Roster | Sydney 7s Tournament

Tia Blythe
Sarah Buonopane
Ryan Carlyle
Cheta Emba

Jordan Gray
Abby Gustaitis
Nicole Heavirland (C)
Alev Kelter
Natalie Kosko
Kiki Morgan
Hope Rogers
Naya Tapper

Women's Eagles Sevens Staff | Sydney 7s Tournament

Richie Walker Head Coach
Sarah Leslie, Athletic Trainer
Jon Hood, Head of Physical Preparation
Dave GardnerLiz Strohecker, Team Manager

Women's Eagles Sevens Schedule | Pool B | Sydney 7s Tournament

LIVE on The Rugby Channel
vs. England | Thu, Jan. 25 - 6:44 PM ET
vs. Japan | Thu, Jan. 25 - 9:28 PM ET
vs. New Zealand | Fri, Jan. 26 - 12:12 AM ET

WHERE WE STAND
HSBC World Series Standing USA, 4th place
Top Players in Conversions Alev Kelter, 4th place

TO SUM IT UP
A victorious run in Dubai, talented returning players and new blood ambitious for a return to the pitch will lead Head Coach Richie Walker and the Women's Eagles Sevens to the 2018 Sydney Sevens Tournament next week (Jan 25-27). England, Japan and New Zealand will have their work cut out for them as an impressive and determined United States squad sets its sights on the Cup.