Falcons Finish 6th in Okinawa, Prepare for Exhibition Series with Australia in Las Vegas

Women's Falcons to play 5 friendlies with Pearls alongside 2018 USA Men's Sevens Tournament

LAS VEGAS, NV. - The Women's Falcons have returned from the 2018 Okinawa Sevens Invitational - finishing 6th overall as defending champions - and now look ahead to a 5-match exhibition series against the Australia Pearls Mar. 2-4. The friendlies, played alongside the 2018 USA Men's Sevens Tournament at two different venues in Las Vegas, will be a unique and beneficial way to prepare for the HSBC World Series. Tickets for matches played at Sam Boyd Stadium in conjunction with USA Sevens are available at USAsevens.com, while those played at Silver Bowl Park nearby offer free admission.

"This event is significant in our performance development not only for the rest of the World Series, but in preparation for the 2018 World Cup," said Emilie Bydwell, General Manager for Women's High Performance. "We are thankful to Australia for making the trip, but also United World Sports for making it possible to have stadium games."

In the lead-up to this weekend's series in Las Vegas, the Falcons spent two days competing at the Okinawa Sevens Invitational where they went 3-3 to finish in 6th place. Following a strong pool play performance, earning wins over Japan A and Fiji before falling to Russia, the Falcons secured a place in the Cup Quarter Finals where they fell to Australia, beat Fiji and ultimately conceded their final match to Japan A.

"We are incredibly proud having battled through the tournament with only 10 players," said Head Coach Jarrod Faul, describing challenges the group overcame in Okinawa. "We faced tough competition both days and the newer players rose to the occasion. Overall, this tournament was a valuable experience for the development of the team."

Now home with capped players added to the roster, the Falcons will suit up for 5 matches against the Australia Pearls as part of their preparation towards the World Sevens stage. While World Series events see two squads face each other only twice (at most), this series will teach teams to adapt between matches against the same opposition. Lead by Women's Sevens Head Coach Richie Walker, the roster will include several familiar faces in a unique competition that will sustain momentum until Kitakyushu Sevens this April.

"It is very rare that you get to play a quality side like this so many times in one weekend. We will both have close to our top sides so there will be some great rugby on show," said Head Coach Richie Walker, describing the depth of the Falcons Las Vegas roster. "With the big break between Sydney and Kitakyushu, this will be good preparation for our next World Series event and the Pearls' prep for Commonwealth Games."

The exhibition series begins Friday (Mar 2) with a 10 AM kickoff at Silver Bowl Park, followed by a 2 PM contest at Sam Boyd Stadium during the USA Men's Sevens Tournament. Saturday (Mar. 3) will include two matches at Silver Bowl Park (9 AM and 12 PM) with the final played at Sam Boyd Stadium at 2:18 PM on Sunday. Admission to Silver Bowl Park will be free while tickets for Sam Boyd Stadium are available at USAsevens.com. All times Pacific.


USA Women's Falcons Roster

Cassidy Bargell
Tia Blythe 
Ryan Carlyle
Cheta Emba
Jordan Gray
Abby Gustaitis
Nicole Heavirland (Captain) 
Alev Kelter
Kasey McCravey
Hope Rogers
Kelli Smith
Kelsi Stockert
Naya Tapper
Kate Zackary

USA Women's Falcons Staff

Head Coach - Richie Walker
Assistant Coach - Jarrod Faul
Team Manager - Liz Stohecker 
Strength & Conditioning - Jon Hood 
Athletic Trainer - Sarah Leslie
Athletic Trainer - Bri Sparks 

USA Women's Falcons Schedule (all times Pacific)

Friday, Mar. 2 
10 AM | Silver Bowl Park 
2:30 PM | Sam Boyd Stadium 

Saturday, Mar. 3
9 AM | Silver Bowl Park 
12 PM | Silver Bowl Park 

Sunday, Mar. 4
2:18 PM | Sam Boyd Stadium


Women's Falcons Roster

Sarah Buonopane
Chelsey Birgisdóttir
Ashlee Byrge
Natalie Kosko
Dani McDonald
Alena Olsen
Neariah (Nene) Persinger
Hope Rogers
Kelli Smith
Kelsi Stockert
Kate Zackary (Captain)

Women's Falcons Staff

Head Coach - Jarrod Faul
Athletic Trainer - Brianne Arsenault
Team Manager - Leanna Corpus

Women's Falcons Results

Pool Play 
vs Japan A | 27-24 (W)
vs Fiji | 31-0 (W)
vs Russia | 14-19 (L)

Cup Quarter Finals
vs Australia | 29-17 (L)

5th Place Semi Finals
vs Fiji | 26-5 (W)

5th Place Final
vs Japan A | 19-15 (L)