This weekend the MARFU Under 23 Developmental team competed in the Capitol City Ruggerfet, in Washington DC. The team played 3 club sides (Chesapeake- D2, Maryland Stingers - D1, and Furies B - Premier), and one touring side (Back in Black). Players represented 11 different teams in the Mid Atlantic RFU.
Teams were broken into 4 pools of 4, and pool play commenced on Saturday with the following results:
MARFU U23 Dev v Chesapeake (10-0, W)
MARFU U23 Dev v Stingers (27-14, W)
MARFU U23 Dev v Furies Gold (63-0, W).
MARFU placed first in their pool and qualified for the semifinals against Back in Black, a womens touring side made up mostly of select side and national team players from the 80s and 90s (instead of positional numbers, they wear the year they were born on their backs). Back in Black has won their division every year the tournament has been played in my memory, and make the smarted and fastest decisions ever. So the semifinals pitted the crafty, experienced, but slightly aged "old girls" against the fast, and feisty "Young 'FU"). FUN FACT: One of Back in Black's players had the joy of competing against her daughter, on the MARFU U23 Dev side.
MARFU did a great job in the first half, trading tries with Back and Black and going into the half behind a penalty kick and a try, 22-14. MARFU dominated in scrums, played hard and physical at the tackle contest, and played excellent man to man defense, But Back in Black, wily vets that they are, figured out how to exploit our slower reaction time. After the half, it was clear that they had identified our weaknesses, and exploit them they did, moving the ball very quickly into space on penalties, and using their ability to deliver long, accurate passes lightning fast from the break down to isolate our defenders and outflank the defense. The second half saw MARFU shut out and 3 unconverted trys by Back and Black, for a final score of 37-14.
The tournament, as a developmental event, was a rousing success - each game the team's cohesiveness and teamwork showed improvement, and each individual player improved. From the Friday orientation practice (with a short session on breakdown skills by Eamonn Hogan) to the semi final game, there was continual learning. Though it was certainly tough to lose the semi, it was a tremendous learning experience, and hopefully everyone takes away from it how important foundation skills are.
The youth of this team (birth years indicated below) shows great thing ahead for the program, and will surely create a very competitive selection environment for the May 23-24 tryout. It's worth noting that only two players are NASC veterans from last year.
Next on the schedule is a workshop, May 10th, 9am-12pm, at American University, on playmaking, evasive running, and open field support. After that is open tryouts May 23-24 at the University of Maryland (tentative). I'm looking forward to both and I hope the enthusiasm generated by this tournament brings out MARFU players in droves.
Two players were given the "Spark" award for saturday and sunday. Unlike an MVP award, this award singles out a player who's actions energize their teammates and provide a spark that results in everyone stepping up.
Hannah Bennet - Drexel (scrumhalf) - 89 SPARK WINNER FOR SATURDAY
Elaine Bigelow - Princeton (back row)- 88
Loretta Charles- George Washington (back row) - 87
Rebecca DeMoor - Philly Women - 86
Mia Escobar - 87- Drexel (front row) - 87
Tanya Gouws - University of Maryland (center) - 88
Liz Hilliard - American (front row) - 89
Katie Hunt - Temple - (back row) - 87
Laura Miller - St Mary's BC-(lock)- 88 VICE CAPTAIN AND SPARK WINNER FOR SUNDAY
Ugochi Madubata - Princeton (lock, back row) - 87
Danielle Monica - Temple (wing) - 87 MARFU 2008 NASC VET
Shantel Nelson - American (wing) - 89
Trish Nowlan - George Washington (front row) - 89
Kate Rada - Westchester (flyhalf) - 89
Kaitlyn Rooney- American -(back row) - 89
Nicki Scheurch - Temple (fullback, wing) - 87
Moira Somerdyk - Temple (center) -88 CAPTAIN and MARFU NASC 2008 VET
Hannah Strayer - West Shore United High School - 91
Molly Walter - Mary Washington( front row) - 88
Angela Yue - Princeton (wing) - 89
* indicates MARFU NASC Veteran
Special thanks to American University and George Washington University for allowing their players to participate at very short notice, to Eamonn Hogan for the great session on Friday night, to Emily Sabato, our manager, and to Roshna Wunderlich, my fabulous assistant coach.
Head Coach, MARFU U23