It’s a bit unorthodox to name a Player of the Week before said-player has actually taken the field; however, we’re making an exception for Elizabeth Cairns. She has been named field captain for the USA Women Junior All Americans’ game against Canada, the first of four matches at the U20 Nations Cup in Nottingham, England. It's no easy task - first, this is her first international tour and game; and second, this tournament is the program's first major international event in two years.
Cairns, a graduate of the Downingtown (Pa.) program, has been gaining traction the last two years, as the now-junior worked to establish herself on the talent-laden Penn State squads. WJAA coach Danielle Miller took note in 2012 and invited the hard-nosed flanker to the Lake Placid assembly at the Olympic Training Center. Fast forward a year, and “Bitsy” is a confident, terrorizing openside, who can spark her teammates into action or be a calming agent through her steady, sure play.
“Traveling on tour with the team is a completely different experience, which I am so honored to be a part of,” Cairns compared her last two summers with the WJAAs. “I am a little nervous but am reassured by all the talent and skill that this team possesses.”
Cairns is fortunate to not only have five fellow Penn State teammates on tour with her, but all five will be on the field against Canada today. She’ll have Danielle Ciocco and Hope Rogers in the front row, PSU captain Kelsey Harris flanking on the opposite side of the scrum; Brianna Troyer at outside center and Meya Bizer in the backfield at fullback.
“I’m extremely lucky to have so many of my teammates with me on the field,” Cairns said. “It makes me feel just a little bit more comfortable in play. However, at the same time, right now we are all playing for the USA, and all of my teammates play an important role in our success.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Cairns performs with this added pressure. There are certainly players on the field who have more high-level experience, but clearly, Miller sees something special in Cairns.
“I was grateful to be named field captain, especially with so many great leaders on the team,” Cairns said. “Our real goal is to go out and play our game, as well as to problem-solve when we need to. We expect things to go wrong, but I know that this team is capable of working through issues on the field.
“More than anything, I am honored to get the chance to represent my country, and I just hope to be able to help keep the team calm and composed throughout the game.”