GREENSBORO, N.C. – The 2013 USA Rugby College 7s National Championship kicked off Saturday at Bryan Park Soccer Complex in the Men's Division I, Women's Division I and Men's Open Division brackets, with forty-eight teams delighting a large crowd in Greensboro.
There was plenty of excitement in the Men’s Division I ranks during Day On. Five of the six pools were not decided until the final match for each under the lights at MacPherson Stadium.
Reigning champion Arkansas State proved the loss of multiple All-Americans due to graduation would not slow the team down in 2013. The Red Wolves scored in bunches while only allowing five points on their way to winning Pool A and advancing to Sunday’s Cup Quarterfinals. Speedster Zin-Zan Elan-Puttick was every bit explosive as advertised for Arkansas State, scoring two tries in each of its three matches.
Saint Mary’s was the only team that had its pool sealed up going into its final match of the day. The Gaels defeated Middle Tennessee, Arizona State and Oklahoma on their way to their third consecutive Cup Quarterfinals. Cooper Maloney and Joe Reavey could not be kept from the try line, while Garrett Brewer provided devastating tackles all afternoon.
Pool C saw two teams advance to the Cup Quarterfinals in Lindenwood and Air Force. Playing for the top spot in the pool, Lindenwood jumped out to a 17-0 lead against the Zoomies. Lindenwood, playing two men down in the final minute, eventually held off Air Force behind the strong play of Morgan Findlay.
Pool D produced a highly entertaining match between Davenport and Central Washington. Davenport did just enough to beat the Wildcats 10-7 and win the pool. Central Washington’s dominating shutouts against San Jose State and Auburn snuck the Northwest Conference Champions into the Cup Quarterfinals based on point differential.
Dartmouth was not tested until they met Cal Poly in Pool E’s final match. Two-time USA Rugby AIG Collegiate All-American Madison Hughes willed the Big Green to a 22-17 victory against Cal Poly with his blazing speed and accurate foot. The Mustangs from San Luis Obispo surprised many with their tremendous play, but did not quite do enough to reach Sunday’s Cup Quarters.
The 2011 College 7s National Champion Life University will have an opportunity to play in its third consecutive Cup Final after winning Pool F. The Running Eagles had their way with the rest of the field, including a 38-12 win against Navy in Day One’s final match. Freshman Harley Davidson had a coming out night of sorts making several brilliant dashes down the sideline throughout the day.
Eight teams in all remain in the hunt for the 2013 College 7s National Championship. The Cup Quarterfinals will kick off at 9:00 A.M. ET Sunday when Arkansas State takes on Air Force.
In the Women’s Division I bracket, Norwich and Penn State won all three of their respective pool matches.
The Nittany Lions were off to the races in their first match against Clemson, with Brianna Troyer scoring the opening try in just the first minute. The Tigers could not keep up against the likes of Women’s Eagles Hope Rogers and Amelia Bizer, who each scored a try in the first half alone. Penn State defeated Clemson 41-0, Oregon State 36-0 and James Madison 17-7. The Nittany Lions will start their hopeful Cup run against Ohio State Sunday.
Rebekah Bernheim scored six tries in Norwich’s three matches Saturday. The Cadets – winners of both the 2011 and 2012 College 7s National Championship – beat Davenport 31-5 in the opening match and followed it with big wins against Georgia Tech, 45-5, and Princeton, 22-0. Indiana is the Cadets’ first opponent Sunday.
Stanford was Day One’s other unbeaten, but Texas spoiled the Cardinal’s bid for a third win in the last match. A back-and-forth match, the Longhorns managed to hang on for the 14-14 draw with the help of a Stanford yellow card in the 11th minute. Stanford will face 2-1 James Madison on Day Two at MacPherson Stadium in the first Women’s Division I Cup Quarterfinal.
California and Davenport, both 2-1 in pool play Saturday, will meet in the other quarterfinal. The Golden Bears were handed their only loss by Virginia 12-7. California scored the first try, but Texas replied to tie the match and scored in the 13th minute for the win.
USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-American Chidinma Chukwueke scored a hat trick of tries in Georgia Tech’s 24-12 win against Princeton, but the Yellow Jackets lost their other two pool matches to descend into the Bowl Semifinals. Virginia will be their opponent, while Oregon State and Texas will fight for the other Bowl Final spot.
In a first for College 7s, eight teams contested the Men’s Open Division Saturday. University of Wisconsin-Stout finished pool play undefeated with wins against New Hampshire, Sonoma State and James Madison to advance to the Cup Semifinals. The Blue Devils and Lafayette will meet in one Semifinal matchup, with Principia and Sonoma State in the other Semifinal.
The remaining four teams will contest the Bowl in the Men’s Open Division. Emory and Elon will kick off the day on Field 2 at 8:00 A.M. ET and New Hampshire and James Madison will follow.