Written by Jackie Finlan    Sunday, 05 August 2012 00:35    PDF Print Write e-mail
Belles Out of Cup Competition
Sevens - Club Sevens


The Boston Belles are one of the top stories of the Women’s Club 7s Championship, but not for the reasons for which they hoped. Last year’s national finalist went 1-2 during pool play and will be competing for the Bowl instead of attempting to return to the final showdown.

Sylvia Braaten helps the Youngbloodz to the top of Pool B. (Mike Nolan photo)

The Belles began with a massive 43-0 victory over Philadelphia (0-3), but the joy they felt after game one would be the highlight of the day.

Game two was against the Emerald City Mudhens, who had lost their opener 15-12 to eventual pool winner Youngbloodz. The first half was the Emily Malkin/Ashley Kmiecik show, as the two traded tries through the first seven minutes. An extra Jess Peterson conversion put the Belles up 14-12 in the half.

Peterson extended her side’s lead in the second stanza with a try of her own, but Kmiecik’s hat trick returned the point differential to two (19-17). With no time left in regulation, Mudhens speedster Sarah Falk dotted down the go-ahead points for the shocking 22-19 win.

Shocking to everyone but the Mudhens.

“We knew the Belles were projected to be in the top four, but that didn’t translate into any intimidation on the pitch,” Emerald City’s Kammi Lopez said. “We didn’t feel like the underdog. We typically struggle with our first game, but we were feeling more confident and prepared for our second game. When we play the style of 7s we want to play – getting the ball wide, attacking and playing defense hard – we can compete with any team out there.”

Meanwhile, the Youngbloodz disposed of Philly 21-7 to stay undefeated through two rounds. With one game remaining, the Belles had to defeat the Youngbloodz if they wanted a shot at the Cup quarterfinals, since Emerald City was forecasted to win their game against Philly in round three.

The Belles appeared fired up – Amy Daniels was at the core, rallying her teammates and stealing a ball or two from the breakdown; and Ashley Clancy planted some potential breakaways around the corner. But so were the Youngbloodz, and even more important, they were moving in sync.

“We struggled in the first two games,” said Christy Ringgenberg. “We wanted to play 15s-style. But once we saw how easy it is to play when we move the ball through the hands, it really came together.”

Once the Youngbloodz committed to moving the ball from sideline to sideline before attacking through the middle, the opportunities to strike became more numerous, especially for Ringgenberg (who will be joining the USA 7s residents as a contracted athlete this September). The flyhalf ended with four tries.

The defense focused on Daniels, who is such a threat with ball in hand, and relied on the stifling pressure that Syvlia Braaten, Stacey Bridges and Katie Johnson exert of offenses.

It took some time to fully break the Belles’ spirit. Down two tries, the Boston side ended the first half on a high note, as Daniels picked off an outlet pass, then dished to Kate Augustyn, who returned the ball to the Youngbloodz’s half.

The final blow came early in the second half, when a Youngbloodz scrum near the Belles’ 22 meter, worked to Johnson, who dummy-switched with wing Rachel Lentsch, and then dished to Ringgenberg looping inside as Clancy wrapped up the center. Ringgenberg dotted down and the Belles couldn’t recover. The Youngbloodz won 27-0.

“There’s going to be more pressure,” Ringgenberg said of tomorrow’s Cup quarterfinals. “We have to make sure we stick to the gameplan of moving the ball wide before we attack in the middle. That will make or break us tomorrow. We have to maintain our composure under pressure.”

The Youngbloodz will play Chicago North Shore in the Cup Quarterfinals, while Emerald City will see the Seattle Breakers. Philadelphia moves onto the Bowl Quarterfinals to see NOVA 2.

The best the Belles can do is finish 9th overall, but that journey won’t start until the Bowl Semifinals. As the Pool B #3 finisher, they were poised to face Pool A #4, which is automatically the absent Sacramento Amazons. So the Belles get a buy through the quarters and will play the winner of Belmont Shore v Falcons.

DAY ONE STANDINGS

Pool B

W

L

T

Pf

Pa

Pd

Pts

Youngbloodz

3

0

0

63

19

44

9

Emerald City

2

1

0

55

41

14

7

Boston Belles

1

2

0

62

49

13

5

Philadelphia

0

3

0

14

85

-71

3