Eagles fourth in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - The USA Women's Eagles Sevens finished their home leg of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, HSBC USA Sevens, Saturday with a 31-7 defeat in the Bronze Medal Match to Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games bronze medalist Canada.

Kristen Thomas dotted down for the Eagles' sole try, with Richie Walker's team earning 14 points towards the Series standings for their performance. The U.S. will next compete on the circuit in Kitakyushu, Japan, April 22-23.

"You're only as good as the last thing you do," captain Alev Kelter said after the team's final match of the weekend. "Right now we're excited to be in the top four, but we wanted to finish higher. We're going back to the [Chula Vista Elite Athlete] Training Center to fix what we need to fix, get in better shape, and be ready for the next tournament."

The Eagles won possession from the match's kickoff under the lights at Sam Boyd Stadium before Canada took advantage with a grubber kick from a first-minute turnover. The border rival took initially knocked the corral attempt, but Kelsi Stockert lost the ball forward on a run of her own inside the U.S. 10. Canada won the set piece and a successive penalty to put the ball through hands to Ghislaine Landry for the opening try.

Landry took the ball from a fourth-minute scrum through a gap for a lengthy try and 14-0 advantage, too. The Eagles did not have much possession in the half, but Thomas finished a sixth-minute attack by taking the ball from the ruck at the 10 and beating the defense to the try line. The score was converted to cut Canada's lead in half at 14-7 until Natasha Watcham-Roy escaped a tackle at her own 10 for a 21-7 halftime score line.

Joanne Fa'avesi broke through the Canadian defense in the ninth minute to set up a scoring chance, only to lose the ball to a penalty without support. The teams contested possession in the middle third of the field for most of the half, but Brittany Benn and Hannah Darling dotted down with runs down the wing to bring the final score to 31-7.

"We're so thankful that World rugby and the Vegas crew decided to have us be a part of HSBC USA Sevens," Kelter said. "We want to come back next year. We'd love some more stops along the way, but we're so blessed to be here in front of this crowd and our families. It's an honor."

With three debutants in the squad this weekend - Samantha Pankey, Nicole Snyder, and Kelsi Stockert - and a USA Falcons developmental squad filled with younger, less experienced pool players performing at the Las Vegas Invitational next door, Walker and Co. have gained needed playing time without slipping in the Standings. The pool draw for the next leg in Japan will be released in due course.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Canada
1. Samantha Pankey
2. Kelly Griffin
3. Kate Zackary
4. Nicole Heavirland
5. Ryan Carlyle
6. Alev Kelter (C)
7. Naya Tapper
8. Kelsi Stockert
9. Joanne Fa'avesi
10. Bulou Mataitoga
11. Kristen Thomas
12. Nicole Snyder

Canada | v. USA
1. Brittany Benn
2. Kayla Moleschi
3. Sara Kaljuvee
4. Breanne Nicholas
5. Caroline Crossley
6. Charity Williams
7. Jennifer Kish
8. Bianca Farella
9. Ghislaine Landry
10. Hannah Darling
11. Natasha Watcham-Roy
12. Megan Lukan

Women's Eagles Sevens | 7
Tries: Thomas
Conversions: Heavirland

Canada | 31
Tries: Landry (2), Watcham-Roy, Benn, Darling
Conversions: Landry (3)

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC USA Sevens
v. Ireland - L 24-21
v. Spain - W 24-7
v. Fiji - W 14-7
Cup QF v. Ireland - W 20-12
Cup SF v. New Zealand - L 12-7
Bronze Medal Match v. Canada - L 31-7