NOVA had a good weekend. Between the club’s DI and DII sides, NOVA scored 92 points and allowed only five.
Saturday morning, NOVA B (1-0-1) posted a 40-0 shutout against the winless Maryland Exiles (0-2). Fullback/flyhalf Kristina Knopfel led the way, running in four tries, while wing Chelle Schneider and No. 8 Kate Mahoney added the remaining two. Halfback Cat Conroy tacked on 10 points, slotting five of six conversions.
The DI side carried that momentum into their afternoon game against James River (0-3), building a 31-5 halftime lead before finishing with the 52-5 victory.
USA Eagle Erica Cavanaugh was particularly impressive, switching positions twice throughout the match but still managing to score five tries.
“Erica was extra sharp today,” NOVA coach Brian Walker said. “It didn't matter whether she was at flanker or on the wing, she really showed the power and pace she is known for. She put in some crunching tackles and also made a nice pass that put Marcel [Meredith Nelson] away for her try. It was fun watching her and [Sam] Pankey go head-to-head at seven for most of the afternoon.”
Scrumhalf and captain Meganne Atkins got the scoring started, finishing off No. 8 Rosie Daley’s pick from a five-meter scrum. Cavanaugh added a long try barely a minute later, converted by hooker Rachel Primo, and another at the 25-minute mark, 17-0.
With 30 minutes gone, USA Eagle and flanker Sam Pankey lifted her side, beating several defenders on a punishing solo run for the team’s lone score, 17-5.
But the surge was short-lived, as Cavanaugh restored the point differential with her third try (Primo converted), and outside center Sharlyn Carter made a sharp break to open up another long try through the backs. Fullback Amy Kingsbury converted for the 31-5 halftime lead.
Cavanaugh moved back to flanker in the second half and celebrated her return to the forwards with two more tries. Wing Meredith Nelson capped off the flurry of five-pointers, and Kingsbury converted all three second-half scores, 52-5.
“River played us a lot closer than the score might indicate,” Walker said. “They had a good plan, they contested possession well, and they made us work. The second half was very physical. I commend them for stepping up to the D1 ranks this year; I think it will only make them stronger. They've seen all the teams in our conference now, and I think they will improve in their second go round through the league.”
The Capital union is four teams strong, and NOVA has gone through the first round scoring 147 points and allowing just 20.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” Walker looked ahead to the second round of league play. “Now that the teams have seen us, they will make adjustments this second time through. We're very aware that this season is a marathon and not a sprint, and that we have to be ready to peak six to seven months from now.
“The thing that has surprised me most is the relative level that we started at,” Walker continued. “Despite mixing in several new players to the DI side, we started at a higher level of on-field continuity and coordination than I expected. We started fall practice later than usual to give our 7s players a rest following Nationals, and I was expecting a bit of rust and some trouble converting from 7s mode to 15s, but you'd never know it from the way we started the fall. That bodes well for being able to add in new things over the remainder of the fall.”
Both sides are off this weekend, but when play resumes on Oct. 12, NOVA will play Philadelphia, and NOVA B will face Norfolk.