Penn State dominant in Division I Fall Championship win over Norwich

PALM COAST, Fla. – Penn State’s storied program is one step closer to its 10th National Championship after defeating Norwich, 42-5, Sunday, Dec. 7, in the USA Rugby Women’s Division I Fall Championship Final hosted by ACRA.

The two juggernaut programs reached the Final after Norwich crushed Indiana and Penn State surged past Quinnipiac just a day earlier.

The Nittany Lions wasted little time to get on the board, as flanker Rebecca Henn recorded her first try of the weekend. Norwich showed plenty of resistance, preventing Penn State from adding to its lead despite several try-scoring opportunities. The resilient defensive stand finally broke when Women’s Eagles full back and Penn State standout Meya Bizer scored the Nittany Lions’ second unconverted try of the half for a 10-0 lead.

Desperately seeking relief, Norwich finally managed to get the ball into Penn State’s half, but a secured lineout by the Nittany Lions would put the reigning champions back on the front foot. Led by Women’s Rugby World Cup prop Hope Rogers, Penn State drove a maul back inside the Cadets’ 22-meter line. Taking advantage of an overload to one side, Bizer stepped past a Norwich defender and fed freshman winger Tess Feury for a try. The score was Feury’s fifth of the weekend after dotting down four times against Quinnipiac. Bizer’s conversion would hit the crossbar and Penn State went into the break leading, 15-0.

The second half of the Women’s DI Fall Championship Final took a similar shape as the first 40 minutes. Penn State did well to starve Norwich of possession, while the Cadets did a phenomenal job of preventing the Nittany Lions from making the most of their ball retention.

Following a converted try from AIG Women’s Collegiate All-American Elizabeth Cairns, Feury and Bizer were back at it. Following an offload from the freshman sensation, Bizer raced 50 meters for a try and pushed her team’s lead to 27-0.

The relentless Penn State attack continued to add to their lead with tries from center Gabriella Cantorna and wing Rachel Ehrecke. True to form, Norwich refused to be shut out on the day and earned a try from wing Alanna Giradin late into the second frame. Ehrecke would add a penalty kick for the Nittany Lions and make the final score 42-5.

With the win, Penn State will be in a familiar place as they are now destined for the May 9, 2015, College National Championship, where they will face off against the Women’s DI team that prevails in the Spring Championship tournament.

Quinnipiac recovered from its loss to Penn State with a 55-32 win over Indiana. The consolation match was not as easy a win for the Bobcats as the final score would indicate. The Redstorm closed the first half on a 17-0 run that led to a 20-12 lead at intermission.

Back to full strength following a first-half yellow card, Quinnipiac exploited gaps in Indiana’s defense for several long tries in the second 40 minutes, including two from WCAA Natalie Kosko.

The top performers from the DI field were recognized with a place on the Fall Championship All-Tournament Team. Penn State led the following list with five Nittany Lions receiving the All-Tournament nod:

Hannah Bell – Norwich University
Meya Bizer – Penn State University
Riley Blankenship – Norwich University
Elizabeth Cairns – Penn State University
Gabriella Cantorna – Penn State University
Vanessa Champagne – Norwich University
Masie Duncan – Indiana University
Shannon Durkin – Quinnipiac University
Rebecca Haight – Quinnipiac
Allison Hale – Indiana University
Natalie Kosko – Quinnipiac University
Allyson Murphy – Norwich University
Hope Rogers – Penn State University
Lauren Shissler – Penn State University

MVP: Tess Feury – Penn State University