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Hoping to avenge its loss yesterday in the pool play finale, USA was outpaced and outplayed by a more fluid Canadian side, 36-5, in the Youth Olympic Games division final at the 2018 Las Vegas Invitational. Canada was aggressive from the outset and never let up for the entire match.
“Yesterday, we really played their game until the last minute of the match and where we were like this has got to be our game, they have to play to our strength,” Canadian captain Taylor Black said. “We went back last night and drew up a plan of what we have to do today to make the difference. Today, we came out and played to our strength and realized we have to move the ball away from contact, use our speed, and we got the success we needed.”
USA head coach Emilie Bydwell said, “We didn’t quite do the things we talked about unfortunately in that game. For us, it was about retaining possession of the ball and playing multiple phases but we weren’t able to quite do that. We talked about going to the dark place in terms of how hard you need to work and the girls went there. We are proud of their effort, it’s just about honing in on their execution at this point.”
Looking to succeed where the boys could not, the USA women kicked off to Canada. The Canadians built a strong attack, charging just shy of the USA five-meter line, but a dropped ball gave the United States possession and a forward pass away from a ninety-five meter try. The United States won the scrum after the forward pass ended the advantage but could not get out of their own twenty-two before conceding a penalty. A second penalty inside their own twenty-two, proved too much for the Americans as Canada crossed to the left of the post. The conversion attempt shaded just off the front of the post, keeping it just 5–0.
Canada kicked the restart deep into the USA twenty-two and held the Americans with strong defense for a moment, but USA's Ariana Ramsey found the edge and out ran Canada for an 85-meter try under the post. Alexandra DiMarco’s kick from directly in front of the post was ill-taken, keeping the match level at 5–5.
As the sixth minute got underway, the United States kicked the restart. Canada took it with ease, but soon lost possession to a handling error inside the Canadian ten-meter line. Canada almost stole the scrum, but yielded a penalty instead. The Americans chose to tap and go. Despite getting to the Canada twenty-two, the United States failed to score. Instead, it was Canada forcing a turnover and ended up streaking down the pitch for a try to end the half. The conversion was no good, making it Canada 10, USA 5 at the break.
The second half restart was easily collected by the United States but again, the Americans were dinged for allowing the ball to go forward, leading to a scrum inside their own ten-meter line. Canada won that scrum and they darted out to the right wing, outpacing two American defenders in the process for the try. The tough conversion was just short of its target, but the United States still faced a ten-point hole with only five minutes to go in the match.
The United States looked to have chances on both wings after the restart, but each time failed capitalize. The shot on the left wing from Madeline Rose was ended when the pass to her missed its mark. Canada collected the loose ball but USA's Fane Haungtau forced an excellent turnover. The Americans had another handling error at midfield, giving Canada a scrum. From there, it did not take long for Canada to find a gap and jet away for her second try of the match. This time, Canada was able to connect on the conversion, making it 22–5 with 2:30 before full-time.
USA's Shariyf Mayer gave the United States some hope with a hard charge through a tackler to gain some territory, but in her attempt to release the ball on the ground following a tackle that wasn't held, she inadvertently edged the ball just forward, giving a scrum to Canada. The girls from the North scored two more times in the final minutes to bring the final victory of 36-5.
Bydwell is proud of her players and is hopeful for the future. “Ultimately, we have athletes who can compete at this level, they can compete with Canada even though they are a top three team in the World Series and we are a top five or six team. We have the athletes, we just need to invest and put resources into them and put support in their daily training environment so when they come to this set up they have the skills to perform. We have a terrific group of kids and we are really proud of them.”