Team USA Women’s Day 1 Results
The USA women’s team met Ireland to start things off at the USA Sevens. The Americans began on the right foot with an early try from captain Alev Kelter. The captain converted her own try to give the Eagles a 7–0 lead. A converted try a short while later by Ireland drew the match level. Ireland was able to strike once more before the half to take a 12–7 lead at the break.
In the second half, the Eagles took the lead after a astonishing run from Naya Tapper found the edge of the Irish defense, allowing Tapper to score in the shadow of the post. Nicole Heavirland slotted the simple conversion for the slim 14–12 advantage. The Eagles looked to be in control a short while later when Kelter added her second try of the match. Perhaps more impressive than the physical effort to cap off the try was the long-distance conversion to push the lead to two scores. Despite time winding down, Ireland had the resilience to fight back. A quick converted score drew Ireland within two. The restart came with a minute and a half left in the match. An inability for the Americans to bring in the restart kick allowed Ireland to instantly get on the front foot and dot it down in the far right corner. Ireland won a penalty in the process. Ireland was able to boot to touch in lieu of the kickoff. With just enough time for the lineout, the Irish won another penalty and was able to kick into touch to end the match: Ireland 24, USA 21.
The loss will haunt the Americans because it was a match that they could have won. Fortunately, there remain two more matches on the day, and wins in the next two matches will keep team USA on the path to return to the final as they had in Sydney last month.
The Eagles jumped on Spain early with a try from Katherine Zackary from the stolen kickoff. With under three minutes left in the half, Spain caught the edge of the American defensive line setting up a converted score for the lead. On the stroke of halftime, American captain Alev Kelter continued her phenomenal start to the tournament with a steal and try for the narrow lead at the half. In the second half, Spain threatened numerous times but committed too many errors to add to their score line. The best opportunity for Spain ended up in a disaster ours reversal when sloppy ball carrying led to a Naya Tapper end-to-end run for a try under the post. Nicole Heavirland slotted the conversion to put team USA in front 17–7. Zackary would soon add another try for herself to extend the lead to 22–7. With only thirty seconds remaining, Spain continued to press to cut down on the margin off loss, and looked likely to do so when Kelter was sent off with a yellow card for a high tackle. Instead, despite playing a woman down, it was the Americans who looked most likely to add another score. With the board showing zeroes, a Spanish ball carrier was dragged into touch to end the match.
The victory was crucial for team USA’s hopes of reaching the quarterfinal. Boasting a plus-twelve point differential, the Eagles may still be able to advance even with a loss to Fiji to end the day.