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Melissa Kanuk is on the road to World Cup

What wasn't different was Kanuk's role. Like her career as a midfielder on Bethlehem's varsity soccer team, she was placed in a role on the rugby field where she orchestrated the offense " a role she carries on today.

"In a lot of team sports, what makes you successful is that you can see the whole field," said Kanuk. "That's no more truer than in rugby. You have so many different types of players that you have to rely on each other to do what they are supposed to do in order to be successful. Everyone has to work together."

After graduating from American University in 2003, Kanuk still wanted to play rugby. So she signed on with the Maryland Stingers, a club that plays in both a Mid-Atlantic region league and at national tournaments.

"We do travel a bit," said Kanuk, who has played matches as far away as Florida and California. "Being in the east, there are a lot more teams, so we don't always have to travel far."

While playing for the Stingers, Kanuk built up a reputation that got her placed in the National Team pool. Her first call-up to the elite team came last winter.

"It is an honor to be part of that (elite team), but you have to keep working hard to improve," said Kanuk. "When you're part of the (National Team) pool, you have to continue to improve both yourself and as a team."

The Women Eagles have a lot to live up to as they prepare for the 2010 World Cup. The United States finished fifth in the last World Cup in 2006, and the team is looking to break into the top four.

"We are a good team, and we have great potential," said Kanuk. "So when we do get together (to practice), we work really hard to get better."

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