USA Women’s Eagles to close out 2023 with final match against Italy

Shaun Roy
Shaun Roy

Interim Head Coach Milton Haig announced today the USA Women’s Eagles Match Day 23 who are set to meet Italy in the final WXV 2 match in Cape Town. USA v. Italy kicks off at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 28, live on RugbyPass TV. 

Haig made several changes to Saturday’s roster putting hooker Paige Stathopoulos on the starting 15 with Kathryn Treder as a finisher. Keia Mae Sagapolu also starts as the tight head prop. Katana Howard joins the starting squad as inside center, while Summer Harris-Jones is named right wing. On the bench, Alivia Leatherman will have a chance to earn her first USA Eagles cap. Leatherman, a standout from Notre Dame College, played well with the USA Women’s U23s during the tour of Brazil this summer, earning an invite to the WXV camp. 

Veteran Catie Benson will step out for her 40th cap this Saturday, becoming only the 5th USA Women’s Eagle to achieve that mark. Benson will start at prop for all three matches this tour. In another benchmark, No. 8 Rachel Johnson will also earn her 25th cap against Italy. 

Summer Harris-Jones also steps into the starting 15 for her first appearance of WXV2, adding some strike to the outside and speed the USA will look to engage for the final fixture.

The USA’s last meeting with Italy was in their opening match at the 2021 Rugby World Cup one year ago, where Italy upset the Eagles in a 10-22 win. Italy heads into this weekend with two wins in South Africa  and leading the WXV2 standings, so will be looking to notch one more win and secure first place. The USA are not mathematically eliminated from winning the tournament, needing to beat Italy with a bonus point and see Scotland fall to Japan for a shot at the top spot. With renewed spirit and a solid combination of veterans and youthful energy, the Eagles will either way be looking to end their tour in South Africa on a high note.

Head coach Milton Haig on the Italy roster:

"We're excited about this selection, it gives a few players an opportunity to show what they've learned over the last three weeks and gives some of our younger players an opportunity as well. This is a really big game for us. We've had an eight day turnaround, so have had plenty of rest and time to do our preparation to put a good game plan in place. We're excited about the opportunity to play on Saturday, and we're hoping the athletes that put on the jersey this weekend get us a win for the USA."

USA Women’s Eagles Roster | USA v Italy

Name Club Caps
1. Catie Benson Sale Sharks 39
2. Paige Stathopoulos Beantown RFC 3
3. Keia Mae Sagapolu Leicester Tigers 5
4. Hallie Taufoou Beantown RFC 13
5. Erica Jarrell Beantown RFC 4
6. Freda Tafuna Lindenwood University 5
7. Tahlia Brody Leicester Tigers 6
8. Rachel Johnson Exeter Chiefs 24
9. Taina Tukuafu Lindenwood University 5
10. Gabby Cantorna Exeter Chiefs 23
11. Lotte Clapp Saracens 12
12. Katana Howard Sale Sharks 16
13. Kate Zackary (C) Ealing Trailfinders 34
14. Summer Harris Jones USA Sevens 2
15. Tess Feury Leicester Tigers 21
16. Kathryn Treder Loughborough Lightning 14
17. Alivia Leatherman Notre Dame College Debut
18. Charli Jacoby Colorado Gray Wolves 23
19. Jenny Kronish Beantown RFC 11
20. Rachel Ehrecke Colorado Gray Wolves 9
21. Carly Waters Colorado Gray Wolves 22
22. Kristin Bitter Rhinos Rugby Academy 2
23. Emily Henrich Beantown RFC 11

USA Women’s Eagles Traveling Staff | WXV 2

Head Coach | Milton Haig

Assistant Coach | John Haggart

Assistant Coach | Melodie Bosman

Coach Intern | Karameli Faaee

Strength & Conditioning | Sylvia Braaten

Strength & Conditioning Assistant | Owethu Durban

Analyst | Caitlin Singletary

Doctor | Rebecca Rodriguez

Lead Physio | Katherine Henry

Physio | McKenna Medders

Team Manager | Tiffany Lopez

Team Liason | Jongi Nokwe

USA Women’s Eagles WXV 2 Schedule

All matches live on RugbyPass

Saturday, Oct. 14

v. Samoa | 36-26 (W)

Friday, Oct. 20

v. Scotland | 14-24 (L)

Saturday, Oct. 28

v. Italy | 11 a.m. ET