A win, a tie, and a loss on day one of the 2011 Pan-American Games will see the USA Men's Sevens team as the #2 seed out of Pool B, which means they will play Guyana (1-0-2) at 10:50 a.m. EDT tomorrow in the quarterfinals.
The games will be shown live on the Guadalajara 2011 webcast.
The quality passages of attacking play from the USA were really quality, giving a preview of the kind of young talent USA Head Coach Al Caravelli has assembled this season.
The three newbies; Unufe, Mauer, and Niua all tallied points in their international debuts against Chile.
"We did fine on attack," said Caravelli, "Considering we had less than 30% of the possession in all of our games." A focus on gaining and retaining possession tomorrow will allow the Eagles to release their speedsters in space.
On the defensive side, the coach cites communication, and a bit of nerves as the culprits for suspect alignment.
"That's an easy fix," said Caravelli of the Eagles' defensive woes. "We just need to communicate earlier and acknowledge what they're being told by the sweeper."
USA v. Chile
A nervous start by the Eagles was compounded by very physical Chilean pressure. The USA didn’t panic, and were able to keep Chile out of the tryzone after several dangerous line breaks.
The USA proved they had a few weapons of their own, namely the speedy national team newcomers, Mauer and Unufe. Unufe cut up the Chilean line and found another gear on his break to leave the defenders in his dust. A successful conversion by another rookie, Folau Niua, gave the USA a 7-0 lead at halftime.
In the second period the Eagles were able to turn the Chilean defense around a few times, but just failed to finish. Rocco Mauer used a quick step to turn a small gap in the Chilean defense into a gaping hole. Mauer got to full speed and outside of the defense at about half way and that was that. See you later, try time for the USA. Chile scored on the last play.
USA v. Brazil
After getting shellacked 45-0 by Canada in their Pan-Am opener, Brazil came out strong against at USA team that struggled in first half. The USA was down 5-12 at the half, with a lone score from Maka Unufe.
The second half saw the USA tie Brazil and take their first lead of the match. Tries from Mile Pulu and Unufe handed the Eagles the advantage, but the resilient Brazilian side tied the match up and it ended with a draw. The USA was 1-1-0, with the last game of their day promising to be the most challenging.
USA v. Canada
A quick try from Canada got the USA backpedaling in the Eagles' final encounter of day one, but some great work at the breakdown from Colin Hawley released Pulu for a loping run down the middle of the pitch for a try. Niua converted and, in quick succession, scored a try of his own. The USA had the halftime lead, but Canada revealed a chink in the Eagles' armor.
The restarts for the USA gave Canada plenty of possession and they did well by spreading the American defense too thin. The result was a rash of Canadian tries in the second half, leaving the Eagles searching for a way to stop the bleeding. They eventually built up some good phases and capitalized on Canadian penalties, setting a charging Mark Bokhoven off through the Canadian defense. With the clock winding down, the veteran scored quickly, threw the ball to Niua who converted expertly as the hooter signaled fulltime. There was enough time for a restart however, the kick was too deep and didn't allow the Eagles to compete. Phil Mack from Canada simply caught the restart and kicked it out of bounds, ending the match.
Team USA 2011 Pan-American Games Squad
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians; Ames, Iowa)
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club of San Francisco; Trowbridge, Calif.)
Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions; Cleveland, Ohio)
Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Milemoti Pulu (San Francisco Golden Gate; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle, Wash.)
Blaine Scully (Unattached; Sacramento, Calif.)
Roland Suniula (Boston; Boston, Mass.)
Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore; San Diego, Calif.)
Zack Test (At Large; Palo Alto, Calif.)
Peter Tiberio (University of Arizona; Naperville, Ill.)
Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors; Provo, Utah)
Head Coach Al Caravelli (Ridgefield, Conn.)
Asst Coach Dave Williams (Denver, Colo.)
Video Analyst Paul Goulding(Aspen, Colo.)
Physio/TC Kristen Douhan (Denver, Colo.)
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