Panthers repeat as Women's DII National Champions

MARIETTA, Ga. - Fall Champion Davenport University scored early and often to defeat Kennesaw State University, 71-5, in the Women's Division II National Championship Final Saturday at Life University.

The Panthers' second consecutive trip to the USA Rugby College 15s National Championships ended in similar fashion to last year's, when they beat University of Southern California by 61 points to win its first National Championship just weeks before conquering the College 7s field.

The Owls of nearby Kennesaw State won a Spring title a few weeks ago with a successive win against Tulane University, last year's Spring Champion at the DII level. The home-town tournament was not enough to give them an advantage against Davenport, however, and succumbed to three tries within seven minutes. All-American center Danielle Ordway provided the final pass to Madison Sparks for first- and second-minute tries, the latter set up by a restart return from lock Allison Miedzielec, before Amy Plembeck finished off a set of crashes for a 17-0 lead.

Kennesaw State did offer a test with ball in hand when it could secure possession, but was unable to cross the try line in the first portion of the half. The Owls did not contest the breakdown in an attempt to slow down Davenport's play, but the Panthers' size and patience won out for four more tries in the span of 12 minutes. The Owls drew penalties, however, and sent prop Chelsea Jones over the line in the 34th minute from a quick tap stemming from a Madison Baldwin yellow card.

Sparks rounded out the half with her hat-trick try for a 42-5 score line. No. 8 Brenna Donahue added five more points five minutes into the second half, and Kennesaw State kept Davenport from furthering the advantage for 20 minutes, at which point the Panthers dotted down four more tries for the 71-5 final.

While Sparks ran in five tries on the day, Ordway was recognized as the Final's Most Valuable Player. She recorded three tries herself in addition to the line-breaking runs that set up teammates. Scrum half Olivia Ortiz and Plembeck scored twice apiece.