Ohio State is the first to qualify for the Women’s USA 7s CRC final, and the prospect of playing inside PPL Park tomorrow is fitting quite nicely into the team’s plans.
“Just being here, showing we’re made of, that’s our goal,” OSU captain Stephanie Bowers said. “We want to be on the map, because we haven’t been for 10 years. So many of our players are underrated because they’re not being seen by those nationally ranked coaches. We’re here, we’re ready to play, and we’re ready to dominate.”
OSU faced their toughest competition in the first round of pool play, taking on Texas and eking out a 15-14 win.
“Even though I’ve been playing rugby for a long time, I was super nervous,” Bowers reflected on the first kickoff. “We had no idea what we getting into, since we’ve never played any of the teams in our pool before. Texas had one fast girl, and we thought we could take her, but she gave us a run for our money. We were able to change up our game to account for her, but we almost met our match against them.”
Ohio State has a fast girl, too: Akua Adu-Gyamfi. The power runner distinguished herself during last year’s USA Rugby College 7s Championship and has continued to impress in Philadelphia. Teammates Brittany Latham, an imposing prop who can slot a dropkick from anywhere on the field, and 15s flanker Caitlin Martin have also left lasting impressions on the field.
OSU plays a good team game, though, and that’s what saw them to a 29-5 semifinal victory over Georgia Tech this morning.
“We have everything,” Bowers said. “We all pass well, tackle low, have speed – and we’re so good at supporting each other. We have all the components; it’s just putting it together.”
Ohio State has been focused on this 7s event arguably longer than the rest of the field, and that focus will certainly help in the final.
“After nationals in December, we realized that 7s is our thing,” Bowers said. “Then the CRC came up and we wanted to qualify. Our spring 15s season ended super early so after that we immediately started training for 7s – all-day practices on Saturdays – to take on this tourney.”
Now that PPL Park is on the horizon, the team is slightly overwhelmed that they’re realizing their goals.
“Like I said, I’ve been playing for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play at a huge event,” Bowers said. “Especially with the men playing there – it’s awesome. Women never get this opportunity and we’re just so excited.”
The women’s final will be contested Sunday, June 2 at 12:40 p.m.