The long awaited International match between USA and Canada Women's National Teams kicked off Saturday evening at Infinity Park in front of nearly a thousand fans.
USA started strong, working together and really putting pressure on the Canadian defense. Just five minutes in, Canada was called for pulling down a USA maul which awarded the Eagles a five meter line out. The line out throw went to jumper Blair Groefsema who then hit Beckett Royce around the weak side who scored in the corner.
Stephanie Bruce was unable to convert the kick, but USA was energized with a 5-0 lead.
The Eagles continued to attack with strategic kicks which almost allowed Ashley Kmiecik to score in the corner. Referee, Natalie Amor of England, commanded the field well and kept a tight leash on both sides which was first witnessed when punches thrown by Canada resulted in the first yellow card of the night. USA tried to increase their lead with another Canada penalty for not wrapping, but Bruce just missed the PK from 22 meters.
Finally, around 20 minutes in, Canada found a hole and scored on a perfectly executed backline play. The conversion was no good and the game was tied 5-5. Canada’s celebration was soon stifled when their inside center received the second yellow card of the half. USA’s defense continued to hold strong and the match was a back-and-forth battle.
USA soon felt the referee’s pressure when Kristin Zdanczewicz received a yellow card for breaking off the scrum early. Canada tried to take the lead with this penalty, but the PK from 22 meters was no good. The USA defense strengthened with chants from the Eagle Alum, “USA! USA! USA!” and they were able to hold on until halftime 5-5.
During halftime, USA Rugby honored the Eagle Alum. On the field, each was named and received a cap from Anne Barry.
The second half started with the Canada team taking advantage of a USA penalty. While no kicker from either team had made a penalty kick thus far, both teams still took every opportunity to score. This PK from 30 meters was also not converted by the Canadian kicker. The final yellow card came at the 50th minute when Groefsema was sent off. Canada again, elected to take a PK and finally was successful putting them up 8-5.
With a player short and the pressure on, USA tried to hold a solid defensive line, but Canada’s No. 14 slipped through and scored in the corner. A lucky conversion kick that hit the post and fell through put the score at 15-5. Soon after, Canada would score again after a miscommunication on defense. This conversion would again be no good and the score would stand Canada 20, USA 5 with just about 20 minutes remaining.
USA continued to push forward and with another Canada penalty on the 22 meters, Bruce would attempt another PK.
Unfortunately, the kick was not good and play resumed with a Canadian drop 22. Groefsema was brought back on and USA surged forward refusing to let up. Vanesha McGee received the ball after great patience by the forwards and quick passing through the back line. She sized-up the Canadian defender, took the corner and scored with less than 10 minutes remaining. Bruce was able to make the toughest kick of the night putting USA down by only eight.
Canada kicked off and pursued with flat line pressure hoping to hold on to their lead. USA received a line out five meters from their goal line. With a missed connection between thrower and jumper, Canada was able to steal the USA throw. Canada quickly set up a maul and drove over the line to score one last time. The conversion was no good putting Canada up 25-12.
With little time on the clock, the Eagles continued to play hard never letting up. Reserve wing Victoria Foyalan broke through tackles and weaved her way through numerous defenders to touch it down for USA’s final score of the night. Bruce’s final kick of the night just missed and the final whistle blew and the game ended with Canada holding the advantage 25-17.
I have been working with Sara John at USA Rugby to get a copy of the video and was just alerted today that they will not be able to provide me with a copy as agreed upon.
They do say that they will be uploading it to the USA Rugby Media Center in the next few days. When it is posted I will let you know the link ASAP. In the meantime you can check out the audio here and the pictures that The Girl took here. Also make sure to check out the highlight reel from the USA A vs Canada A game on the Canada Women's Rugby site here.
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