GREENSBORO, N.C. – Norwich defeated James Madison 17-10 Sunday night in the finale of the 2013 USA Rugby Women’s Division I College 7s National Championship at Bryan Park Soccer Complex.
In its third year at College 7s, Norwich had a perfect 17-0 record with two national championships going into the Cup Final. The Cadets used dominating wins against Davenport, Georgia Tech and Princeton in pool play Saturday to earn a spot in the Cup Quarterfinals. A narrow, 10-5 win against Indiana, followed up by a 17-5 defeat of Penn State in the Cup Semifinal set up the Cadets’ match-up with the Dukes.
James Madison finished pool play 2-1 with victories against Oregon State and Clemson and a 17-7 loss to Penn State to earn its Cup Quarterfinals spot. The Dukes upset unbeaten Stanford 17-12 before repeating the feat 15-12 in the Cup Semifinal against California.
Chelsea Wilkins scored the first half’s only try in the Final for James Madison in just the second minute. Both teams dealt with the cold temperatures in Greensboro fairly well, but it could be seen some hands were a bit stiff.
After the opening 10-minute frame, Kayla Cook took no time in extending the James Madison lead to 10-0 with a try in the 11th minute. Norwich’s Hannah Bell drew the Cadets within five with a try in the 14th minute and USA Rugby AIG Women’s Collegiate All-American Joya Clark’s try two minutes later tied the match. Bell successfully kicked the conversion, putting the Cadets ahead 12-10.
With James Madison threatening as time ticked away, Rebekah Bernheim – who scored eight tries in the tournament leading up to the Final – put the nail in the Dukes’ coffin with a try in the 19th minute, bringing the final score to 17-10.
Bernheim was named the Women’s Division I Most Valuable Player for her performance at College 7s, the second consecutive year she as received the honor. Women’s Eagle and all-time cap leader Jaime Burke presented Bernheim with the MVP trophy.
Penn State beat Ohio State 21-5 in a Big Ten match-up in the Cup Quarterfinal before the defeat to the eventual champion in the Semifinal. The Nittany Lions trailed California 15-12 late in the Women’s DI third-place match, but USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-American Elizabeth Cairns gave Penn State the 19-15 win with a try in the 12th minute.
Indiana defeated Davenport 12-5 in the Shield Final after narrowly escaping a 15-14 win against Ohio State. Texas beat Virginia 14-12 to win the Bowl, while Princeton shut out Clemson 22-0 in the Shield Final.
“The event here USA Rugby has put on, and the coverage, has been phenomenal,” Women’s Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. “To see how far we’ve come – it’s impressive. I love the fact men and women are here together.
“I think one of the great things we’ve seen today is the game gets competitive. There’s no one dominant team. We’re looking forward to next year’s sevens already.”
Watch the replays of the 2013 USA Rugby College 7s National Championships on the USA Rugby TV YouTube Channel. The Women’s Division I All-Tournament Team will be selected in the coming days.