Written by Jackie Finlan    Sunday, 05 August 2012 01:33    PDF Print Write e-mail
Berkeley Shuts Out Pool Play Opponents
Sevens - Club Sevens


As expected, the game of Pool C was always going to be Berkeley 1 v NOVA 1. Both sides won their Morris and Belmont Shore games easily, and pulled starters as soon as a sustainable lead was established. As a result, a fantastic game erupted at day’s end.

Berkeley's Vix Folayan, en route to one of her many tries. (Dobson Images)

Spectators were eager to see how Berkeley was going to respond to their first real competition of the day. All Blues coach Laura Cabrera was displeased with the team’s opening performance against Belmont Shore, and then Morris didn’t provide enough competition to test whether the side was improving under pressure.

At the opening kickoff, Berkeley sent chasers barreling down on receiver Lauren Hoeck, who fielded the ball cleanly, didn’t panic under the pressure, and broke through the line untouched. She pulled returned to the kickoff back to midway, but the connecting pass fell short and NOVA missed out on an opportunity.

Berkeley buckled down, tested its corners, and looked to turn over the ball anytime the ball was brought to ground. Phoebe Boone, Vix Folayan and Nathalie Marchino were particularly disruptive. NOVA struggled to move the ball quickly away from the breakdown, but some of that issue had to do with the management of the tackle area.

“They did a good job of slowing the ball down,” NOVA coach Dana Creager said. “We weren’t able to get quick ball out and couldn’t play our offense. When they have bodies on the ball, it’s difficult to make adjustments to that.”

That said, sometimes NOVA’s support to the tackle was slow, and Berkeley was able to take advantage.

Sisters Elaine and Irene Gardner set up the first try, when they teased the defense down the line, passing back and forth to each other at top speed, until enough defense could smother the familial connection. Marchino eventually got her hands on the ball and skirted into the try zone, a score that Sarah Davis converted, 7-0.

Folayan made it 12-0, cutting back inside after streaking down the sideline. On the day, no one could match the Eagle wing’s speed in the straightaway. Marchino nearly added her second try after she kicked a messy ball downfield. Pursuers were hot on her tail until she kicked it a second time to the tryline, where the tips of her fingers just skimmed past the top of the ball.

Berkeley extended its lead to 17-0 after Folayan set up Elaine Gardner out wide. Elaine bounced off a harpooning tackle – one that made the crowd audibly react – and was rewarded with a try.

NOVA could not penetrate or out-run the All Blues’ defense, but they got within Berkeley’s 22 meter on a couple occasions. Their frustration finally culminated in Hoeck cross-kicking, from 10 meters out, to Erica Cavanaugh out wide. The wing fielded the ball cleanly, even as Folayan loomed in her face, and crossed the try line. Folayan drove Cavanaugh backward, and then got under the attempted grounding. It was an impressive display of strength and resolve.

“This is the first game we lost all season,” Creager said. “It’s good to lose every once in awhile because you need someone to show you what your weaknesses are. The same thing happened to Berkeley last year. We beat them on the first day and they came back to win the whole thing. We’re taking a little inspiration from that.”

DAY ONE STANDINGS

Pool C

W

L

T

Pf

Pa

Pd

Pts

Berkeley I

3

0

0

103

0

103

9

NOVA I

2

1

0

68

22

46

7

Belmont Shore

1

2

0

36

62

-26

5

Morris

0

3

0

0

123

-123

3