A change, big plans for Eagle women in Sydney

A change, big plans for Eagle women in Sydney

Still 3rd in the World Sevens Series, the U.S. Women’s 7’s team is in excellent position to claim one of the four automatic spots at the 2024 Olympics; but 1st is also in his mind.

The Eagles have been third twice and second once (last week). This performance by Hamilton was interesting because his defense was outstanding, as was his discipline: no penalties were conceded in the 10-7 victory over Australia in the semi-final. But they also found Michaela Blyde and New Zealand a bridge too far.

So this week in Sydney has to be about a) doing the job to stay away from No. 4 Ireland and b) trying to get the teams ahead.

Leading the way for the USA in many ways is relative newcomer Sam Sullivan. Sullivan was (along with Cristian Rodríguez) the first winner of the Prusmack Award as the best collegiate 7s player, given in 2019.

Watch video Alex Goff interview with Sam Sullivan and Cristian Rodriguez>>

Sullivan achieved this thanks to an MVP performance in the CRC and an overall brilliant performance for West Point. The North Carolina native, who had hoped to play soccer at West Point, found herself out of the sport and then quickly snapped up by the ever-vigilant Bill LeClerc, head coach of the women’s rugby program there. Sullivan was a three-time NIRA All-American (NCAA Varsity Rugby), and also an NIRA All-Academic recipient. In his entire West Point career, in 7&15, he scored 122 attempts, and that’s despite the 2020 7’s season being canceled due to COVID.

Smart (majoring in computer science), physically tough and athletic, Sullivan was tracked into the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program and somehow managed to do so without pressure to make the US 7 team from the start. COVID and the interruption of the World Series allowed him to get to work and establish himself as an officer in the US Army (see photo above).

But now what we see is a growing confidence. Sullivan sees an opportunity, takes it. The leadership engendered at the US Military Academy (his brother was also a cadet and his father a Green Beret) is evident here. Hierarchy is about getting the job done. The result has been 11 runs in his first three tournaments, good for most on Team USA and 7th in the World Series.

Sullivan isn’t the only star, of course. Ilona Maher is among the leaders in the DHL Performance Tracker and has done so by forcing defenses to commit to her. This has resulted in fewer attempts for her and more for those on the receiving end of a Maher download: Cheta Emba, Naya Tapper.

Tapper, meanwhile, reaches the 30-tournament milestone this weekend in Sydney. Co-captain of the team still has pace, but can also fight in the trenches.

#change #big #plans #Eagle #women #Sydney

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