The NAI 7s is wrapped and there were more than a few surprises.
Here's who came out on top.
Men’s U20s - Canadian Misfits
The U20 bracket was top-heavy going into the knockout rounds on day two. Before the last round-robin match, it seemed EIRA and the Upright Rogues were on a collision course for the final. But somewhat below the radar, the Misfits put up a sneaky 44-5 win over Arizona. The point differential meant the Misfits needed to beat the undefeated EIRA squad in the last match and they had to win by 18 points or more. The Misfits put in their best performance of the tournament and won 31-7 over EIRA securing themselves as the top seed in the pool.
After some deliberation over head-to-head losses and point differential, the two teams to advance to the final were the teams that had just played: EIRA and The Misfits. The Misfits didn’t look like the favorite after day one but on day two they outplayed the Americans twice and brought home the cup.
Boys U18 Elite - Upright Rogues
The Canadian teams might not have had blistering speed but what they had was high-class playmaking ability. The Upright Rogues were losing to Atlantis in the semifinal but back to back tries from Jordan Ng advanced the Rogues to the cup final.
The Rogues were pitted against their Canadian rivals, the Misfits. Before the match the teams shook hands and paid their respects. When the teams took the field the rivalry was hot. The defense was on display in this match as both teams had several rangy tacklers. With no time left it was the hero from the semifinal, Jordan Ng, who scored the game-winning final. After both matches Ng was carried off the field, both as celebration and injury assistance.
Boys U18 Open - Evolution
The Evolution program carried their Great Northwest Challenge momentum from 15s over to the 7s competition and went unbeaten on the weekend. The Ethan and Kyle Van Tonder combo was on center stage once again. This time the lethal Van Tonder brother combination had a stellar supporting cast.
Jeremiah Sio played for the Washington Loggers in the Northwest RCT final against Evolution, but Sio teamed up with Evo 7s squad and turned out to be the best center in the open competition.
Boys U14 - USA South Panthers
How ‘bout them U14 Panthers? The USA South program recognized before the tournament that they were in a rebuilding phase. On the higher levels the South made the calculated decision to choose younger players over older players in the effort of building core chemistry. But if these U14 Panthers can stick together they will be a force to reckon with for years.
In the Cup Final the Panthers were down 7-5 to the Celtic Barbarians of Canada. With zero seconds flashing on the scoreboard the Panthers were granted one last scrum inside their own 22-meter line.
Boys U16 - Barbarians
Led by a snappy halfback combo of Jones and Davies, and using a smart combination of ball movement and attention to some of the finer points, the Barbarians handled a fast but indisciplined Belmont Shore to win it all.
Girls U18 Elite - Atlantis
The Atlantis girls team lost to South Bay, a local SoCal team made up mostly of sophomore girls, and then rebounded to beat those self-same Spartans and emerge champions. Led by Clara Lemal-Brown and Kate Buzby, but with some excellent work, especially at halfback, the Atlantis team rebounded from adversity to win it all.
And so did South Bay, brushing off that semifinal loss to dismantle the Barbarians and take third and finish an impressive 5-1 weekend.
Susan Adegoke put her hand up as a superstar at the high school level. She is a speedy wing with offload and stepping ability years ahead of her peers. She will be on the NAI Dream Team.
Girls U18 Open - United
United and Kahuku slammed into each other in the final, and in the end, United produced a smooth, integrated performance that put the Utah team through.
Girls U16 - Barbarians
In a round-robin league format, the Barbarians swept all before them, giving up only 27 points in six games, and 20 of them were to the hard-hitting Land Park Harlequins.
Girls U14s - More Barbarians
The Barbarians program was everywhere, and in the U14 bracket the girls were perfect, only being challenged by the Lady Barbarians (similar name, different team).