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Eagles take down China

TOKYO — The USA Women’s Rugby Sevens Eagles are off and running in the Olympics.

The team opened pool play with a 28-14 win over China on Thursday morning at Tokyo Stadium.

China pulled ahead early but the Eagles tied it at 7 before the break. The USA countered with 21 unanswered points in the second half before China scored a meaningless try late.

“It wasn’t easy at all, so it just showed us that every team is going to bring it and don’t doubt any team,” first-time Olympian Ilona Maher said. “Every game we play, the next game is the biggest game. I think we have one of the strongest teams America has ever put out. That was a little wake up call we needed, to play when it’s time to go. Every team is going to bring it. So I think each game we’re going to bring it more and more and you’ll see us getting better and better.”

Kristi Kirshe led the Eagles with two tries.

The United States will play Japan at 5 a.m. to wrap up the first day of women’s rugby. Pool play will conclude with Australia at 9:30 p.m. today.

2003 East Palestine High School graduate Liz Strohecker is the operations manager for Team USA.

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