Women's Championships Set
Championship Matchups set for Collegiate Women
- Norwich tops Washington State in a thriller
- Winona State pushes past Shippensburg
- Penn State crushes Cougar Women's Rugby
- Stanford rides the home team advantage past Brown
STANFORD, Calif. - The rugby and the weather were sizzling at Stanford University on day one of the Emirates Airline USA Rugby Women's College DI & II National Championships. The finals are now set, and there is little doubt the best teams in the country will be duking it out for the title.
The action started early on Friday when National 7s Champion Norwich took on Washington State, who won the DII Championship in 2010.
From the get go, the crowd knew this match was going to be intense. Hard hits and long runs for each team signaled a fight to the finish, but poor handling and little possession gave Washington State the upper hand. The Cougars jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first half, and looked to be in the drivers seat. Norwich had other ideas.
As the temperature rose and the game wore on, the fitness of the Cadets started to prove dividends. Norwich would get on the board just nine minutes into the second period when Meghan Weppner dove over the line thanks to some quick ball out of the ruck following a long run. 12-7 Washington State, but the momentum had shifted. Norwich would go on to claim the come from behind victory 28-15 in a thrilling affair.
On the other side of the DII bracket, Winona State looked strong and crisp in a 24-12 defeat of Shippensburg. The Black Katts rode the momentum from two tries from their Flyhalf Ashley Nelson, and steady attacking pressure to pull away from Ship early in the second half after leading 12-5 at the half. Winona will face Norwich for the DII title tomorrow at 1pm. The match will be web-streamed LIVE on the USA Rugby Ustream channel.
In DI, the winning teams made easier work for themselves en-route to tomorrow's championship match. Penn State looked polished in a 46-15 dismantling of a strong Cougar Women's Rugby (BYU) team.
The Nittany Lions used their dominant forward pack to control the Cougars, and two props: Nwakaego Onyekwere and Lauren Poole barreled over the line for tries in the first twenty minutes to set the tone of the match. The precision of the Penn St attack would ultimately be the downfall of BYU in the eight tries to three victory. Penn St will have their hands full tomorrow when they take on a Stanford outfit who also won convincingly over a strong opponent.
Stanford Coach Matt Sherman knew his team would be in for a fight against a talented Brown team. The Cardinal, however, were able to shut down the Brown attack and keep their skilled players generally at bay.
Brown Flyhalf Chelsea Garber, a skilled distributor and excellent tactical kicker, formed the core of the Brown attack, and the only try of the day for the Bears. Stanford's defense proved the difference however, and the Cardinal was able to use their pace out wide to finish off several well-worked tries. Smriti Sridhar, a fleet-footed freshman wing from the Philippines burned two tries around the corner for the Cardinal. Sridhar is deceptively fast and proved too much for the Bears to contain.
Stanford will carry their home field advantage into the Championship match tomorrow when they square off against Penn State at 3pm in Steuber Rugby Stadium.
Saturday is a massive day for rugby all across America, with Stanford right in the middle of all the action. The High School Girls kick off action tomorrow as well in the Invitational Championship. All Collegiate matches tomorrow will be webcast LIVE at ustream.tv/usarugby. Below is a full schedule of Saturday's events in Palo Alto.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Fallbrook v Amazons
Washington St v Shippensburg
Catholic Memorial v West Carroll
DSHA v Downingtown
Women's Cougar Rugby v Brown (Brown Forfeit)
Kent v Lakewood
HS Match 5 (SF Consolation)
College Match 7 (DII Championship)
HS Match 6 (Semi Final)
Penn St v Stanford
HS Match 7 (SF Consolation)
HS Match 8 (SF)