Women's Eagles
6 6
New Zealand
67 26
Women's Eagles  @ Soldier Field
The Rugby Weekend
Match 1

Women's National Team taken by World Cup Champion Black Ferns at The Rugby Weekend

CHICAGO, IL. - The U.S. Women's National Team faced a harsh challenge today in a historic match against World Cup Champion New Zealand at Soldier Field. In the opening match of The Rugby Weekend's blockbuster tripleheader, the Black Ferns torched the pitch for a 6-67 victory over a U.S. team filled with young, up-and-coming debut players. 

Captained by Kate Zackary, the Women's Eagles saw 13 players earn their first cap in the team's first appearance since Women's Rugby World Cup 2017. While the gap on the scoreboard may indicate one thing, the overall picture paints a clear depiction of a program that has officially set sail toward its future. 

Captain Kate Zackary said: "We knew it wouldn't be about the scoreline today, it was all about the experience. Everytime we got together, just kept kept reminding the team to keep having fun, keep trying out new things and just believe in themselves and work hard."

Head Coach Rob Cain said: "The players kept on working for each other. We do have a long way to go, we've only had a couple of days together. I think the pleasing thing is that we were creating opportunities, but combinations take a bit of time to [work] in and they just couldn't see space sometimes. But I'm really proud of them, they stuck to the task really well."

The Black Ferns were first to draw blood with an opening score that came within the first minute of the game. Unhindered by the early dominance, the Eagles fought back, winning three points off a penalty kick to narrowly edge the gap. 

For some time, the United States maintained a stronghold on possession, attacking deep in New Zealand territory before the Black Ferns pushed back. Space became its own contentious battle as the USA's opposition pushed the Eagles far behind the halfway mark. 

With the pressure on, the U.S. kicked to touch. New Zealand came back with a win at the lineout and found the space to notch their second try of the game, 3-14. On the restart, the Black Ferns moved right back into Eagle territory and won a second-consecutive try off a similar lineout to make it 3-21. 

While possession was a United States strength at the beginning of the match, the reigning World Cup Champion had turned the tables and captured control. 

In a moment of precision and clear sight, USA Captain Kate Zackary locked eyes on space, broke the line, and made a beautiful offload to Jordan Gray-Matyas. Gray-Matyas broke two tackles with strength before a kickchase rolled past the touchline and stole opportunity away from the United States. 

New Zealand recovered the ball immediately after, darting to the edge of the tryline before a monster U.S. tackle stopped them meters before the line. The Women's Eagles remained physical, winning a turnover that allowed them to kick to touch and avoid another 7 point gain. 

In a turn of events, the valiant effort was cut short when New Zealand converted their third deadly maul to a 3-26 lead. 

As time ticked down, the U.S. Women's National Team gave fans another show of faith, forcing a scrum penalty on New Zealand that allowed Kimber Rozier to kick for points. 

Though the Black Ferns owned the scoreline, the first half of the match showed many bright moments for the Women's Eagles. 

As soon as the second half began, the Black Ferns capitalized on a grubber kick to win a penalty and score on the edge, 6-31. A bobbled pass, plucked back up from the open ground gave New Zealand another try right after, increasing their lead to 6-38. 

A convincing attacking drive pushed USA beyond their own 22, but the referee called a penalty that gave the Eagles' opposition back the ball. 

New Zealand would score four more tries before all was said and done, taking advantage of the United States to drive in as many scores until the final victory, 6-67. 

The U.S. Women's National Team will now regroup and look ahead to another full week of preparation before traveling to Europe to face England at Allianz Park on Nov. 9. With more time to spend together as a group and valuable experience gained from today's contest, the Women's Eagles will back in full force. Watch the match against England LIVE on FloRugby.

U.S. Women's National Team Staff

Head Coach | Rob Cain
Assistant Coach | Richard Ashfield
Assistant Coach | Kate Daley
Assistant Coach | Jamie Burke
Head of Physical Performance | Ian Jones
Head Performance Analyst | David Gardner
Assistant Performance Analyst | Craig Wilson (Chicago)
Head Athletic Trainer | Bri Sparks
Assistant Athletic Trainer | Katherine Henry
Technical Halfbacks Coach & Team Manager | Jenny Lui (Chicago)

U.S. Women's National Team Schedule | November Internationals 2018

vs New Zealand | 6-67 (L)

vs England
Fri, Nov. 9 | 2:45 PM ET
Allianz Park, London, England

vs Ireland
Sun, Nov. 18 | Time TBC
Energia Park, Dublin, Ireland