Three pools produced undefeated winners Saturday at Founder’s Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. NOVA escaped a competitive Pool B 3-0, the D.C. Furies posted a really lopsided win and a couple of tough victories in Pool C and the Berkeley All Blues managed two shutouts in their 3-0 run of Pool D.
The one pool champion to falter were the defending National Champion San Diego Surfers. After winning big over Philadelphia and ORSU, the Surfers were blanked by the previously winless Boston Belles. Boston’s Ashley Clancy showcased her speed, running in three first-half tries in the contest.
Despite losing so surprisingly and handily, San Diego’s Cara Nocero insisted that her team laid it all on the line in that match, and that there was no loss of confidence following the loss.
San Diego returns just a handful of players from last year’s championship team, but that doesn’t leave the Surfers any less likely to repeat, according to Nocero.
“We have a lot of young new people, but the team vibe and energy is the same, which is always really positive and encouraging one another and playing together and treating it as a family,” she said.
“We picked a few things after each game, whether it was lower tackles or the way we were handling passing or attack, just little things each game and focusing onto the next one and building each game from the previous.”
The Surfers draw the Chicago Lions in the Cup Quarterfinals Sunday. These teams haven’t played each other, and Nocero was impressed by what she saw in Chicago. “They’re really good, so it will be a really good game. We’ll have to come out quick and ready to play. They’re ferocious.”
The Furies, though they went undefeated on Day One, are playing a little more coy about their confidence heading into the knockout rounds.
“It’s a very tough competition right now. Every team will bring it to you,” said Furies coach Tonga Fanueli. “It depends on how we execute our game plan, and I think we did well today. Tomorrow’s a totally different game, totally different day. We have to bring it up a notch.”
The Furies face the Atlanta Harlequins in their Cup Quarterfinal, which should prove to be a stiff test. The Harlequins lost to NOVA, D.C.’s rival, by just two Saturday, played the Seattle Breakers tough and beat Youngbloodz.
Katie Johnson’s Youngbloodz are another second-place pool team to look out for on Day Two. The Minnesota team beat Beantown by a couple of scores and pushed the Furies in Saturday’s final round. Youngbloodz face NOVA in their quarterfinal.
The final quarterfinal is a Pacific Coast rematch between ORSU and the Berkeley All Blues. The All Blues dominated in their opening two matches, shutting out Combined Services and Scion Sirens. But they had all they could handle against a tough and organized Chicago Lions side.
In fact, Chicago almost won the game. They were leading 19-14 when a ball was dropped - forward or sideways? Depends who you ask. Chicago called for a knock-on, the referee said play on, and Berkeley scored the winner.
It was a costly loss to Chicago as they take on the impressive Surfers. The All Blues defeated ORSU 25-10 in the Pacific Coast 7s three weeks ago.