Wednesday, March 2, 2016

LVI: Stacked Women's Division Will Be Tough

A quick look over the Women's Elite bracket at the LVI and it's easily apparent that this is the most talented tournament outside of the Women's Sevens Series. Not only is the U.S. fielding a team, but several of the top players will also be present either on the Northeast Academy, the ATAVUS All-Stars, the Stars, Atlantis, or the Scion Sirens. Couple that with international teams from Great Britain, Canada, France, Japan, South Africa, and Brazil and this is a deep, deep tournament.

The Falcons, which is what the U.S. women are going by at this tournament, feature many of the names that have played on the Series this year. Alev Kelter, Lauren Doyle, Kelly Griffin, and the like get the weekend off but into the team are Hunter Griendling, Ryan Carlyle, Ashley Perry, Richelle Stephens, Jessica Javelet, Kristen Thomas, and others. It's a stacked team that has high expectations.

Take the jump to read more.

The Falcons are in Pool C with South Africa, Brazil, and the Stars 2. After being a regular on the Series for a couple of years South Africa hasn't played in either Dubai or Sao Paulo. However, they have qualified for the Olympics (whether or not they are going is a huge question) so they can't be taken too lightly. Brazil aren't a core team but they did finish in eighth in Sao Paulo. Finally the Stars would seem like a team to take lightly on the surface but that would be a mistake. They have a lot of talented club players on the team and have loads of international experience.

The Falcons will be expected to compete for the overall title but they are going to have competition, especially from Pool A that has Great Britain, the ATAVUS All-Stars, Rugby Quebec, and Mexico. Great Britain are fielding a combined side for the first time in preparation for the Olympics. Expect them to take this tournament seriously as players push for a spot in Rio. The ATAVUS All-Stars have a stacked team with former, current, and soon-to-be Eagles. Kelsi Stockert could have her major breakout party while players like Hannah Lopez, Kathryn Johnson, Nathalie Marchino, and Deven Owsiany all want to prove they deserve to be Eagles again. Quebec and Mexico could surprise but expect Great Britain and ATAVUS to finish in the top two spots.

Pool B has France, Japan, the Scion Sirens, and Florida. Japan are a very organized team that have used the LVI to grow their team in recent years. They won the Bowl in Dubai and then were Bowl runners-up in Brazil. France were fourth place in Dubai and won the Plate in Brazil. They are going to be a very strong team. The Scion Sirens are one of the best club teams in the country.

Lastly, Pool D has the Maple Leafs, Stars, Atlantis, and the Northeast Academy. Maple Leafs, aka Canada, are bringing a strong team themselves. They finished as runners-up in Sao Paulo and they finished sixth in Dubai. This is a team that sits second in the Series standings and is a legitimate threat to win the gold medal in Rio. Expect the Maple Leafs to make the final.

Atlantis usually field a very strong side themselves but with many players taken by the Falcons and other teams they may be missing their usual strength. The Northeast Academy has completed a year of having a women's program and they are expecting to see a lot of growth. It's doing to be a fight between the Stars, Atlantis, and the Northeast Academy to grab one of those second place spots.

Pool play starts Thursday morning and then wraps-up on Friday. The Cup and Bowl quarterfinals will also be on Friday while the semi-finals and finals on Saturday. The only exception is the Cup semi-finals and final which is on Sunday. That means that top teams will have played six matches over four days.

Pool A: GB Select, ATAVUS All-Stars, Rugby Quebec, Mexico
Pool B: France, Japan, Scion Sirens, Florida
Pool C: USA Select, South Africa, Brazil, Stars 2
Pool D: Maple Leafs, Stars 1, Atlantis, Northeast ODA

Falcons: Carmen Farmer, Meya Bizer, Kate Zackary, Ashley Perry, Nicole Heavirland, Irene Gardner, Ryan Carlyle, Hunter Griendling, Richelle Stephens, Jessica Javelet, Kristen Thomas, Naya Tapper

ATAVUS All-Stars: Sylvia Braaten (Twin City Amazons), Kelsi Stockert (Seattle), Kathryn Johnson (Youngbloodz), Deven Owsiany (San Diego Surfers), Chelsey Sveinsson (Seattle), Lilly Durbin (Fallbrook), Nathanie Marchino (Berkeley All Blues), Jane Paar (Navy Alumni), Amy Naber (Life West), Hannah Lopez (San Diego Surfers), Cameo Motely (Life West)

Northeast Academy: Sarah Bounopane, Tess Feury, Tara Harten, Rosalie MacGowan, Deanna Nash, Sophia Peduzzi, Kat Ramage, Morgan Roberts, Lisa Roselin, Paige Stathopoulos, Tiana Stroughter, Miranda Wakimoto


Dana Alimena - fly/center/prop - Claremont Foxes, Claremont, USA
Missy Bass - center- University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada
Ida Bernstein - prop/center/wing - At Large, Colorado Springs, USA
*Lizzy Bristow - scrumhalf/flyhalf/hooker - Chicago Lions/ARPTC, Chicago, USA
Tahlia Brody - prop/center - SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, USA
*Ashlee Byrge - hooker/scrumhalf.wing - Davenport University, Grand Rapids, USA
Kelly Dean - center/scrumhalf - San Diego Surfers, San Diego, USA
*Emilia Ferrara - prop/center - Notre Dame College, Cleveland, USA
Frieda Fetuu - prop - Berkeley All Blues, Berkeley, USA
Erica Fowler - flyhalf/center/prop - Queensland University, Brisbane, Australia
Autumn Garibay -center/prop - Wichita Valkyries, Wichita, USA
Mickey Ghannam - prop - ARPTC/Little Rock Stormers, Little Rock, USA
Jacque Harrell - wing - HARC, Houston, USA
Tee Kawaihoa-Marquez - prop - Lady Harlequins, Honolulu, USA
Gianna Khoudary - scrumhalf - Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, USA
Erica Legaspi - wing - Budd Bay Bandits, Olympia, USA
Josephine Maejiirs (Bavatu) - wing/prop - Sydney Rams, Sydney, Australia
Melanie Marotta - wing/center - NJ Blaze, Rockaway, USA
Nita Maynard - scrumhalf/wing - Sydney Rams, Sydney, Australia
Dana Meschisi - scrumhalf/prop/center - At Large, San Diego, USA
Madeline Midas - wing - Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, USA
Tina Tela - flyhalf/center - Utah Vipers, Salt Lake City, USA
*Sarah Thomas - prop - Wisconsin Women, Madison, USA
*Amy Verdonik - scrumhalf - University of Scranton/NEODA, Scranton, USA
Angelina White - prop - Buffalo Women, Buffalo, USA
*Justine Wypych - wing - Wisconsin Women, Madison, USA

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