A lot of movement has occurred in the Women’s Club 7s rankings, as teams have gotten more time on the field to distinguish themselves. But the most exciting evolution is the addition of both 7s-only teams and established 15s teams that have decided to take a more serious approach to 7s.
Last ranking, we talked about Beantown, but now ORSU has joined the race. Led by San Juanita Moreno and Molly Luft, the Portland side finished second at the Pacific Northwest championships last weekend. They’re certainly a work in progress, and new coach Charles Sanderson is trying to merge the three strata of interest – from social, to indecisive, to competitive – to rally around committing to nationals. Should that occur (the Pacific Coast Championship occurs this weekend), we might see influential athletes like Anna Symonds, Sharon Blaney and Beckett Royce on the field.
ORSU lost to Seattle in the PNW final, as the Breakers continue to impress. Carrie White was at the heart of Seattle’s come-from-behind victory, and Asinate Serevi was nearly impossible to contain during the course of the tournament. The youngster headlines the torrent of new talent flooding the “Serevi Empire,” as Sanderson described them, and is bolstered by newly capped players like Megan Bonny. The Washington State star will be unavailable at nationals due to selection to the Nations Cup roster.
But no team will be so affected by the Nations Cup as Berkeley. Jossy Tseng, Katy Augustyn and Phoebe Boone are among the All Blues who will be unavailable for nationals, and the northern California team has been pushing newer players like Erin Overcash, Jenn Sever and Genevieve Ireland to step into those ranks. Berkeley fell to a solid, strong San Diego at last weekend's Santa Monica 7s, 34-7 in the final.
That show of force was enough to propel the Surfers, the current 7s champions, into first from third, moving NOVA I and D.C. Furies down a spot. The Mid-Atlantic leaders have continued their ongoing battle, but NOVA I has managed to edge the Furies in the last two finals, winning Cape Fear and Ruggerama. In between, D.C. won Harrisburg with a depleted side and NOVA I hit the road to Lakefront 7s in Milwaukee, where the side lost to the Chicago Lions in the final.
The Lions have made the biggest impression over the last few weeks. After starting slowly in the first Midwest qualifier, the team has won Lakefront and last weekend’s Rock n Roll 7s, which ended with a 41-22 win over the Youngbloodz. Led by Kate Daley (who will be at the Nations Cup for club 7s nationals), Christiane Pheil and Brittany Biedenbender , to name a few, the Chicago-area team leads the Minneapolis-based team by one point in the Midwest standings.
“We have certainly come together and improved throughout the season, and do not boast any true super stars,” Daley said. “Every score and every win we have is hard fought and a team win. It's been a great experience and wonderful opportunity to practice along the men’s side not only because of the excellent coaching and play, but the wonderful team culture and expectations of success that the program has.”
There are a couple other teams of note – namely Atlanta, which decided after its solid performance at Cape Fear 7s to take the South seed to nationals. Up until that point, Southern Exposure was the lead contender for the spot, but numbers once again prevented their inclusion. But adding the Harlequins to the national lineup isn’t a concession; they’re the better team and just needed a couple of things to fall into place before committing.
Scion is the Black Horse of the Mid-Atlantic. After turning heads at the Harrisburg 7s, the team won the Cheesesteak 7s last weekend. Formed by Farrah Douglas and Joanne Lui, this squad pools athletes from a wide range of teams – from as far as Severn River, to Keystone, to Penn State. They have their share of current and former Eagles – Carmen Farmer (who will be at Nations Cup), Ida Bernstein, Devin Keller – and rising stars in Elena Cantorna and Bianca Dalal. Some impressive firepower, but we’ll see how they stack up against the regimented NOVA and D.C. Furies at the MARFU championship this weekend.
That’s what makes these rankings difficult. Some of these teams really suffer from fluctuating lineups. The Northeast is a prime example. The Boston Belles are the most consistent, and if they flounder one weekend, it might be because they’re working their depth and within a season-long process. And then there’s New York, which won Monmouth 7s over the Belles, but didn’t have numbers for the first qualifier and now is questioning whether it’s worth the late push due to the series points spread. And Beantown – we know their top lineup is much better than 14th. They won the first NRU qualifier, but then finished fourth to Morris in the next and aren’t traveling to the third series event, New Jersey 7s, this weekend. So it’s teams like Morris that were invigorated by their nationals experience last year, committed to the NRU series this year, and will benefit in the standings from simple participation. The truth is that Morris isn't the second-best team in the region, but they're committed, focused and deserve the NRU nod.
Most of those questions – who’s heading to nationals – will be answered after next Saturday, and then we'll take a serious look at who's available to travel and how that will affect expectations in Pittsburgh.
Women Club 7s Top 15 – July 16, 2013
1 (4) San Diego. Won Santa Monica 7s, defeating Berkeley 34-7 in final
2 (1) NOVA. 2nd to Chicago Lions at Lakefront 7s, won Cape Fear 7s
3 (2) D.C. Furies. Won Harrisburg 7s, finished 2nd at Cape Fear (12-10 loss to NOVA)
4 (5) Seattle. Won Pacific Northwest championship
5 (3) Berkeley. Finished 2nd to San Diego at Santa Monica 7s
6 (unr) Chicago Lions. Won Lakefront 7s over NOVA, and Rock n Roll 7s over Youngbloodz
7 (7) Boston Belles. Finished second to New York at Monmouth 7s; won Cape Cod 7s
8 (unr) Atlanta. Recently committed to nationals; split games with NOVA and lost a close one to DC Furies at Cape Fear
9 (8) Youngbloodz. Lost 41-22 to Chicago Lions at Rock n Roll qualifier
10 (unr) Scion. Won Cheesesteak 7s over Philadelphia
11 (unr) ORSU. Finished 2nd to Seattle at PNW Championship
12 (unr) Morris. Finished 3rd at Monmouth 7s
13 (10) Detroit. Finished 3rd at Rock n Roll; played Chicago Lions and Youngbloodz closely
14 (6) Beantown. Finished 4th at Monmouth 7s. Won 2nd tier of social division at Cape Cod 7s
15 (9) Emerald City. Finished 3rd at PNW Championship