Boston College gave it the ole college try during this afternoon's Women's 7s Championship, but Norwich University were too much for their NERFU counterparts. After a 34-5 win over BC, Norwich is now the first-ever women's college 7s champs.
Coming into the final, BC knew they were the underdogs, as they've been all tournament, but their physical brand of rugby translated well against a field of relatively inexperienced 7s teams.
"We know each other a little, both being in NERFU," Boston College coach Joanne Lui said in advance of the final. "Norwich is quick, fit, disciplined and have more 7s experience than us. they seem to take to 7s more naturally, and they've shown everyone they're a tough team. We have to stay patient, not give them any gaps, and communicate as a team."
Both teams were tremendously aggressive around the breakdown, and any time the ball went to ground, it was up for grabs. That physicality translated to the open field as well, and the crowd was continually "ooh"ing and "ahh"ing as players like Norwich's Katie Hathaway and Vanessa Champagne, and BC's Mayra Cardoso and Thelma Rodrigues punished ballhandlers.
The game got off to a scrappy start, indicative of the massive hits being delivered on either side of the ball. From a wrestling match on the tryline, Norwich's Emily Bushey eventually came away with the ball, spun around her defenders and dotted down, 5-0.
Sophomore Rose Bernheim, who would end the tournament as the leading try scorer with eight, killed Boston College's first attacking opportunity after a lineout in the Cadets' end went awry. The speedy wing beat her opposite then motored 80 meters for the try.
Norwich was dominating the match at this point, but Boston College made the cadets check their confidence just before the half. From a scrum in Norwich's end, the ball worked out to center Cordosa, who attacked the gap between her opposing center and wing, waited for the space to open up out wide, then hit Addison Powell at pace for the corner try, 10-5.
Norwich knew that BC had some comeback power, as seen against Cal earlier in the day, and returned to the pitch decidedly more fierce.
The tries then came in every from - whether a sideline break away from Champagne, who added two in the second stanza; a weakside attack off a scrum, Bernheim's second try of the final; a pretty line off a scrum to freeze and split two defenders (Joya Clark); or a game-ending five-pointer that wore down a scrambling, yet inspired, BC defense (Ferne Ryder).
In the end, Norwich's ability to move the ball away from contact, use the width via crisp passes, and smother BC's attacking options with tenacious defense produced the 34-5 win.
It was a great victory for DII's Norwich, and Boston College put themselves on the 7s map as well. And after five games in two days, both teams have reason to celebrate the first college 7s championship.