RIO DE JAINERO – Former University of Wisconsin women’s hockey and soccer standout Alev Kelter led the United States Women’s Rugby Sevens team to the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics after battling Australia to a 12-12 draw, but fell to New Zealand 5-0 in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
The Eagle River, Alaska, native and the U.S. started their day against Australia in the final match of pool play.
The United States advanced to the quarterfinals of the rugby sevens competition at Deodoro Stadium as the best third-place seed of the three pools. The Americans earned six points from three matches in Pool A – including the loss to second-seeded Fiji and shutout of Colombia – beating out Brazil and Spain’s five.
Australia, the No. 1 team in the world rugby sevens series standings, opened scoring with a try at 3:42 in the first half for a 5-0 lead that was held through halftime. The United States’ Jessica Javelet scored a try at 1:56 following Kelter’s tackle-and-steal combination to tie the score 5-5 before Bui Baravilala converted to give U.S. the 7-5 advantage.
Javelet scored once again at the 4:02 mark to give the U.S. a 12-7 lead but Australia tied it up 12-12 in the final seconds of the match.
Kelter, who was in the starting lineup in all four of the U.S. matchups, kicked the restart to the 10 to open the quarterfinal against New Zealand.
The nation’s first try-scorer in the rugby sevens competition, Kelter did not allow extra meters for Kayla McAlister and Portia Woodman in the third minute, before the U.S. gained possession from a kick Woodman could not beat to the touch line.
The lone score of the game came late in the first half as the Kiwis capitalized off of an American turnover for the game’s only try.
The U.S. had multiple scoring chances, including one on a power play with mere minutes to go, but the American were ultimately shut out by the defending Rugby World Cup Sevens and three-time World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series champions.
The U.S. will not compete for a medal but will play two games Monday for the opportunity to be ranked fifth in the world at the Olympic Games. The U.S. looks to avenge its loss to Fiji as the two teams meet in Monday’s Placing Semifinal at 12 p.m. CT on NBCSN.