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The USA women's 7s team ended their 2013-2014 by winning the Plate at the Amsterdam 7s.
The Eagles lost a close game to eventual third-place Canada in the Cup
Quarterfinals, but bounced back with two impressive performances against
Brazil and Russia. In doing so, the USA put themselves on firmer footing as
one of the middle-tier of teams on the IRB circuit, defeating lower-seeded
teams such as Ireland, Spain, and Brazil handily, in stern competition with
their peers such as Russia, and not quite at the level of the top teams
such as Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
In Saturday's action, the Eagles took an early lead against Canada but broke down after that, as the Canadians ran in three straight tries to lead 21-7 at the break. Jillion Potter's try gave the USA hope but that was dashed almost immediately by Jen Kish. Final score Canada 28 USA 19.
USA 19 Canada 28
Tries: Griffin, Potter, Kelter
Convs: Villines 2
That put the USA into the Plate Semifinals against Brazil, and here the USA did what they had done on Friday - shut out a lesser team that they should dominate. While it took a while for the offensive efforts to garner tries - the score was only 7-0 until the 6th minute - the Eagles rained tries on Brazil in the second half.
USA 34 Brazil 0
Tries: Folayan 2, Lopez 2, Doyle, Potter
Convs: Vilines 2
In the Plate Final against Russia, the USA had their work cut out for them against a very physical Russian team. But fitness and defense would tell the tail. Amelia Vilines, who had a strong Plate Final, scored an early try for the USA and Hannah Lopez added another before Russia scored through Ekaterina Kazakova. The Eagles replied with a Lauren Doyle try, but Russia ended the half with a try.
That might have seemed to be a momentum shift for Russia, as tries before halftime often are, but Russia had put so much effort into breaking through the USA defense that they were spent. In the second half, the Eagles spent most of the time in the Russian 22, and pressure defense and physicality in the tackle produced two late tries to put the game away.
USA 27 Russia 12
Tries: Doyle 2, Vilines, Lopez, Griffin
Lopez finished tied for third in the tournament with seven tries. Victoria Folayan finished tied for 6th with five tries.
Folayan's 14 tries for the Series ranked her 8th among all players.
The Plate didn't move the USA up in the standings. They were essentially locked in 7th place, which is where they finished in the Series standings. But they moved much closer to Spain, and had they played a little better in China, the Eagles might have finished 6th.
Currently the Women's World Series is one with four very strong teams - New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and (arguably) England. The second tier includes Russia, Spain, USA, France, and (arguably) Fiji. By winning the Plate in Amsterdam, the USA confirmed they belong in that second tier.