While there may not be a Pool of Death, per se, at the Women Club 7s National Championship this weekend, Pool B is looking really tight.
Pool B: Atlanta (South #1), Detroit (Midwest #3), NOVA (Mid-Atlantic #1), Seattle (Pacific Coast #2)
Not much can be said about NOVA that hasn’t been said before; the Virginia side is the epitome of a successful 7s program. That said, the perennial contender has fallen short of a title the last couple of years.
“I have been telling the team all season the winning or losing is not as important as developing in each game,” NOVA captain Meganne Atkins said. “We believe that if we can do this consistently, wins will follow.”
The veteran leadership of USA 7s Eagles Beth Black and Lauren Hoeck have helped drive that development throughout the summer, as NOVA traded wins with MARFU powerhouse D.C. Furies. Megan Hanson and Monique McQueen were also great examples of the tenacious brand of 7s for which NOVA is known. The younger class of former University of Virginia stars – like M.C. Anderson and Sharlyn Carter – soon grew into their roles and added an exciting layer of youth.
As Atkins predicted, the wins did come, and NOVA ended its season with a solid win over D.C. in the MARFU championship.
“Our performances this season have been a true team effort and now that we are at nationals, our focus is on our pool play,” Atkins said. “We’ve been refining our overall skills and fine-tuning our game plan through video work and training sessions. … We have also gone out looking for higher-level competition all season, which has really prepared us for nationals.”
Diversifying their competition has been key, and NOVA got a sneak peak at Pool B mate Atlanta during the Cape Fear 7s. The Harlequins joined the 7s race late in the game, but after their promising showing at Cape Fear – where they beat NOVA in pool play – Atlanta became invigorated for a nationals showing.
The Harlequins took the South seed uncontested when Southern Exposure backed out due to numbers again. But the DI 15s champion didn’t take the berth lightly and are bringing a star-packed squad to Pittsburgh.
Patty Jervey is the undeniable veteran, but teammates like Eagle 7s and 15s pool player Jess Wooden, Tia Blosser, Tristan Likes, former Southern Exposure leader Jess Peterson, Liz Snodgrass and Laketa Sutton are all exhilarating athletes.
Atlanta will have their work cut out for them, however, as they’ll face two teams with which they have little knowledge. Seattle is the 2012 runner-up, and while the Breakers have missed playmaker Megan Sanders, an influx of players, sharpened by the Serevi influence, have been groomed into a solid squad.
A Serevi coach, Evan Haigh has returned to the helm of this burgeoning program, and he is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead in Pittsburgh.
“It is a really tough pool,” Haigh confirmed. “NOVA looks really well organized, Atlanta are super-talented, and Detroit will be highly physical. We are in for a really tough start to the tournament.”
But the Breakers are prepared to deal out some punishment, too.
Eagle 15s scrumhalf Carrie White is the game-changer, and she directs a talented cast like only a veteran halfback can. Asinate Serevi, who just graduated Kent High School, is on the verge of breaking into the USA 7s team, having attended high performance and developmental camps over the last year. Parisa Asgharzadeh is one of our favorite mobile forwards, and Washington State star Carly MacKinnon is one we’re eager to see in the senior sphere.
The team proved to be the Pacific Northwest team-to-beat, but they were overwhelmed by Berkeley in the Pacific Coast championship final. Consistency is the key to closing that performance gap, and the Breakers won’t have a warm-up match in this pool to first establish it.
But of all the teams in Pool B, it’s Detroit that will add the surprise factor. The Midwest #3 seed played in its first serious 7s season and battled top finishers Chicago Lions and Youngbloodz all summer. Always playing close games with the aforementioned, Detroit did bank a couple of underdog wins and have the potential to shake up their more established 7s opponents.
Not too many familiar names on the Detroit roster, save Shaunna Day, who has a simple, yet well tested approach to victory this weekend: We want to gel and play together, off one another, like we know how to play.
That said, Detroit will be well tested for a win, and they’ll have to play perfectly to defeat NOVA, Atlanta or Seattle. We’re hoping for some upsets in this pool, but this is how we see it shaking out heading into knockouts:
Atlanta (B #1) v D.C. Furies (C #2)
NOVA (B #2) v Beantown (C #1)
Seattle (B #3) v NOVA II (C #4)
Detroit (B #4) v Youngbloodz (C #3)
Pool A Preview
Pool C Preview
Pool D Preview
See footage of NOVA beating DC at the MARFU Finals.