Norwich, Penn State, Cal, and James Madison are the last four standing in USA Rugby's Women's College 7s Championships.
Only Penn State really emerged comfortably from their quarterfinals. Norwich opened Sunday's play with a try in the first couple of minutes as Jacqueline Derocher blasted through a hole and kept on going. But Indiana battened down their defense and after equalizing midway through the second half, had Norwich very worried.
But the Cadets pressured and, with Indiana's Caroline Waters in the sin bin, Norwich sent Rebekah Bernheim over to seal the game 10-5.
Penn State, which passes probably better than any other team in cold, raw conditions that made catching very difficult, seemed the most offensively adept. But even they had trouble getting the ball to their runners out wide. The cold weather made for an up-the-gut day, and while Penn State scored three tries - Bianca Dalal, Anastasia Worrell, and Lauren Shissler doing the honors - Head Coach Pete Steinberg wasn't exactly dancing a jig after the game. Penn State won this replay of the Women's CRC in June, beating Ohio State 21-7.
Cal scored right off the bat, and then gave one right back to Davenport, before Lauren Butler's try gave them to lead to stay at halftime.
Jessica Lewis scored two for the Bears in the 17-5 win.
"The cold made it really difficult to catch and pass, so we went back to concentrating on the very basics, and bunching up our line a bit more to make sure we got those passes," said Lewis. "And on defense, it's tough to wrap up. We adjusted, though, just as we adjusted to the time zone change and playing at 5am West Coast time. We have been working to finish strong and we hope we'll do that."
Cal has been training or playing scrimmages on Sundays through the fall in order to prepare for Day Two of a tournament, said coach Brandon Sparks. It has all been designed to train the players' bodies to perform on a Sunday.
Meanwhile James Madison saw Stanford score early and then slowly crept back. The game was 7-7 until just at halftime, when JMU scored to take the lead. Most of the middle ten minutes of the game was a long struggle for JMU to bust through. They, too, had trouble getting the ball wide, but they recycled well.
"We pride ourselves on our defense and on being able to be patient with the ball," said captain Callie Radday. "When we gave up that try we weren't worried. We didn't change anything. We knew we would come back on them."
Stanford scored late after JMU started committing a series of penalties that seemed to be because of fatigue more than anything. Still JMU advanced 17-12.
Norwich plays Penn State at 1:40pm Eastern Time, and JMU takes on Cal at 2pm.