On a beautiful day at Drexel University's Vidas Athletic Complex, eight women's teams from the eastern seaboard battled through pool play of the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship. Pool A, which consisted of Penn State, Virginia, Brown and Temple, yielded some fantastic games, which are summarized below and detailed in full in subsequent reports.
|PSU's Lisa Henneman vs UVA's Steph Chubb. (Marvin Dangerfield)|
Heading into the competition, Penn State was the favorite in pool A, and they certainly looked to fulfill expectations during the first two rounds of play. The stars we expected to see perform, did. Lisa Henneman made some seriously bone-crunching tackles that kept the crowd animated and never went to ground with fewer than three defenders attempting to bring her down. Sadie Anderson was as sharp as ever and kept the offense flowing from side to side, often linking up with Henneman for either player's multiple breakaways down the sideline.
The team downed Temple (34-0) then Virginia (26-7) in the first two rounds of play, but UVA posed a bigger threat than the score indicates. It exposed some vulnerability in the Penn State armor, and Brown, which was winless heading into the final round, had nothing to lose against the DI national finalist. In the penultimate match of the day, Brown put together an incredible performance that saw the Elite 8 team hold onto a 12-10 win. Certainly the shocker of the day.
Next in line was Virginia, which ended with a 2-1 record after defeating Brown 17-5 to kick off the day's competition, losing to Penn State, then rallying with a 27-0 victory over Temple. UVA played to expectations, and their first half against Penn State was stellar, yielding a 5-0 deficit after the first seven minutes. Sharlyn Carter had a stellar day and showcased her exceptional breakaway speed. Erica Cavanaugh, though drawn to contact, found enough space to run in her share of tries. Stephanie Chubb at flyhalf also did well to keep the ball spinning.
Temple and Brown both finished with one win on the day, and when they played each other, the underdog prevailed. The match was an example that "any given day" reigns in sevens, and today was Temple's. After being shutout by Penn State in its opening game, Temple finally got to play some offense in its second match against Brown. Deadlocked at half, a surreptitious kick landed right in wing Sarah Link's arms and the speedster raced about 70 meters for the lone try, which Rachel Bandura converted from the sideline, 7-0 and the win.
Every team won today and knows that it has the potential to win Sunday, when the women's teams continue competition inside PPL Park. Since there are only eight teams in the competition, they all advance to Sunday's quarterfinals. Teams played with their lineups some, rested some legs, etc., without huge ramifications. Sunday, however, is a different story, and PPL Park can be assured a good show.
Stay tuned for detailed match reports.
USA 7s Women's Collegiate Championship
Penn State 34-0 Temple
Penn State 26-7 Virginia
Virginia 17-5 Brown
Virginia 27-0 Temple
Temple 7-0 Brown
Brown 12-10 Penn State