WJAA's go-forward play not enough to top Canada

OTTAWA – The AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans came out swinging yesterday in their first Can-Am Series match versus a familiar foe. Strong running with even stronger tackles helped USA put 24 points on the board throughout the match, but Canada’s forward-driven offense and ability to maintain possession of the ball was a huge contribution to their 48-point win in the end.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the work and amount of heart our team put on the the field,” said WJAA Vice Captain and Dartmouth University’s Milla Anderson. “We set a good platform to grow off of. Now we just have to focus on tightening up our game play to take advantage of when we are on attack.”

The match began with a similar tone as Tuesday’s Girls High School All-American fixtures versus Canada’s U-18 program, as Canada found the try zone early. WJAA answered back with a try of their own shortly after, a result of keeping the ball alive long enough to put Seattle Saracen’s Adi Finau Tamaivena into space. Fly half Bayleigh Gable converted the try to even up the scoreboard.

It didn’t take long for Canada to find their way into USA’s 22 meter, which is where this team shined. Multiple pick and go’s put Canada’s No. 5 Abigail Duguid in. Another converted kick and Canada was back in the lead. WJAA ruck contests, something Kat Ramage and Michel Navarro showed their experience from the 2015 series in, and big hits from Captain Suiluana A’au kept possession even. Orchard Park High School’s Emily Henrich made her call-up from the GHSAA felt with a try of her own after a quick tap off a penalty. Both teams were able to capitalize on one another’s small errors throughout the first half. With another forward’s try before the half, Canada headed into the second half in favor, 19-14.

The Canadian pack brought the energy back to the second half as tries were scored by both props and two from their lock and captain McKinley Hunt. Before Hunt’s second, a turnover ball was quickly moved through the WJAA hands in what looked like a stagnant situation, but full back and Fallbrook product Lilly Durbin came busting through a gap with a full head of steam, running 40 meters to successfully find the try zone. Canada focused on working the middle of the field while USA had success in the edges.

USA seem to have figured out Canada’s strategy in the last 20 minutes of the match, and was able to adjust but it was too late for a comeback. The All-Americans did end with a dynamic team try, allowing Durbin to put BYU’s Kaino Ah Quin away to dot down in the corner.

The AIG WJAA will kick off again against Canada’s U-20s in their second match of the 2017 Can-Am Series at 11:00 a.m. ET at the University of Ottawa’s Gee Gee’s Field Monday, August 7. The match will once again be streamed live on Rugby Canada’s Facebook page.

WJAA | v. Canada
1. Kristina Tomelloso
2. Kat Ramage
3. Hannah Lewandowski
4. Milla Anderson (VC)
5. Taylor Makowski
6. Edna Manoa
7. Michel Navarro
8. Adi Finau Tamaivena
9. Mary-Jane Pasioles
10. Bayleigh Gable
11. Alexandra Strasser
12. Suiluana A’au (C)
13. Emily Henrich
14. Kainoawaianuhea Ah Quin
15. Lilly Durbin

WJAA Reserves | v. Canada
16. Jade Garcia
17. Michele Reyes
18. Annie Rolf
19. Joanna Moreira
20. Caitlin Weigel
21. Olivia Ortiz
22. Becca Jane Rosko
23. Natalie Gray

Canada | v. WJAA

  1. Veronica Harrigan
  2. Sarah Cline
  3. Kassell Menin
  4. McKinley Hunt (C)
  5. Abigail Duguid
  6. Emilie Nicholl
  7. Genevieve Kasa-Vubu
  8. Gabrielle Senft
  9. Taylor Donato
  10. Julia Schell
  11. Taejah Thompson
  12. Shawna Brayton
  13. Jordyn Orlando
  14. Alexandra Ondo
  15. Niamh Haughey
  16. Jennifer Appleby
  17. MP Fauteux
  18. Sydney de la Mare
  19. Harley Tucker
  20. Tobi Owotomo
  21. Sasha Guedes
  22. Christina Branch
  23. Mckenzie Pusch

USA | 24
Tries: Tamaivena, Henrich, Durbin, Ah Quin
Conversions: Gable (2)

Canada | 45
Tries: Hunt (2), Thompson, Duguid, Menin, Harrigan, Schell
Conversions: Thompson (4), Schell