PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Two USA Rugby National Champions were crowned on Saturday, May 4 at Steuber Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif. Penn State and Washington State fought their way to the finals and came away with big wins to be named the Emirates Airline USA Rugby Women’s College DI and DII National Champions, respectively.
The remaining six teams also battled it out in near 80-degree heat to claim the second through fourth place national rankings. The morning started with Quinnipiac and Buffalo facing off for the DII third place title. Quinnipiac finished 22-10 over their opponents with the help of Natalie Kosko. Kosko, a freshman, made her debut for the USA Eagles Sevens squad in Las Vegas this year and had four of Quinnipiac’s five tries on the day.
Navy and Stanford played a very close DI Bronze match marked by good defensive stances, but continued offensive handling errors, which left both sides with little points on the board. The match ended with Stanford utilizing lessons learned from Friday to hold on to the win.
The final minutes came down to a repeat of their semifinal game against Norwich in which Stanford held the lead and just needed to run out the clock—they succeeded the second time around and finished third in the 2013 Women’s DI season. The final score was 19-17.
What started out as a sloppy handling game overall eventually ended with a lopsided win for Washington State in the DII final. Winona controlled the ball at points during the match, but couldn’t use their powerful forwards and quick backs like they had on Friday to convert tries.
By the end of the first half, Washington State was leading by 25 points. Fly half Ashley Nelson scored Winona’s only try of the day in the sixteenth minute but by the second half Winona was slow to get up and unsuccessful at stopping Washington States steady offensive grind. Washington State center Megan Bonny had a hat-trick and was named MVP of Women’s DII Championship match.
The final competition of the day ended in another lopsided score with Penn State defiantly claiming the Women’s DI National Title. Penn State finished with a final score of 65-10, with eight of their players carrying the ball over the try line. Seven of those tries came from the Penn State forwards who played a very dominant game in both the scrums and the open field, including a five meter scrum which they drove in for a try in the first half.
Despite the score, Norwich gave Penn State trouble with many damaging runs and fierce competition in contact. Hooker Christine Aye and fullback Rebekah Bernheim scored Norwich’s two tries in the first 40 minutes, but by the second half Penn State’s defense and Norwich’s own knock-ons left the title in the hands of the defending champions.
The win for Penn State marks their eighth national title and their fourth in the past five years. Prop and sophomore Hope Rogers earned the game’s MVP award for her leadership in the pack and three tries in the game.
All matches of the 2013 Emirates Airline USA Rugby Women’s DI & DII College Championships were streamed and will be archived on USA Rugby’s Youtube channel. Special thanks to Emirates and Gilbert for their support of the live coverage.
Photos from Friday, May 3, 2013:
Buffalo vs. Washington State: http://bit.ly/UBvsWAS
Winona Vs. Quinnipiac: http://bit.ly/WINvsQUI
Penn State vs. Navy: http://bit.ly/PENvsNAV
Norwich vs. Stanford: http://bit.ly/17CO6it
Photos from Saturday, May 4, 2013:
Quinnipiac vs. Buffalo: http://bit.ly/QUvsBUF
Winona vs. Washington State: http://bit.ly/WINvsWSU
Navy vs. Stanford: http://bit.ly/NAVvsSTA
Norwich vs. Penn State: http://bit.ly/NORvsPEN