Fallbrook put in an impressive performance in a rematch of last year’s Girls’ National High School/U19 Championship. Fallbrook took a 24-0 halftime lead before finishing the abbreviated match with a 34-0 victory.
It was a one-sided affair, much like last year, as Fallbrook’s fast, shifty runners and tenacious ball carriers stressed Sacramento’s defense. The Amazons were plagued by chronic arm-tackling and needed too many players to bringing players down. That opened up a ton of room for Fallbrook to stretch their legs, and they did so with gusto.
Wing Clarissa Perez built the momentum for the first try, when she returned a clearing kick to the opposite side of the field. The break ended in a knock-on but Fallbrook stole the subsequent scrum. After a series of pick-and-goes to the line, the ball spun out to the backs, who had a massive overload. Flyhalf Michelle Stephens didn’t need to spin it any wider and dotted down the try. Wing Irayda Macedo slotted the conversion, 7-0.
Fallbrook’s back three had a tendency for streaking across the field looking for a gap, and the Amazon defense allowed them to do so. Fullback Michelle Navarro took advantage of the soft defense when returning a clearing kick, taking the corner after a long sideways break from the 50 meter for the try, 12-0.
Outside center Casey Karl scored the first of her two first-half tries, after Navarro returned another clearing kick and flanker Megan Pinson made 15 meters through the belly of the defense. Pinson sucked in four-plus defenders, which opened up plenty of room for Karl to dot down, 17-0.
Minutes later, Karl dotted down again after Navarro streaked across the field to the 10 meter, then out of contact passed to Karl in support. She centered the try, which allowed wing Clarissa Perez to hit the conversion, 24-0.
There the half ended and Fallbrook used the cushion to work in some of their subs in the second half. The Amazons responded with a little more fire, but the same issues that plagued them in the first half continued. The Sacramento defense performed better in tight and did a good job of limited Fallbrook to two tries – both from Pinson – although the majority of the second half was spent inside their 22 meter.
Fallbrook is an incredibly well drilled, highly skilled team, sporting great team speed. They weren’t impervious to Sacramento’s size and strong runners and did fall off some tackles when the Amazons got a head of steam, but for the most part, Fallbrook stayed on offense and worked the field nicely.
Fallbrook advances to the semifinals this afternoon.