An incredible game evolved between the reigning DI champion, Army, and Ivy League champion Brown during today's Northeast women's DI College Championship. After a couple of lead changes and multiple tied scores, Brown pulled away in the final quarter to win 36-17.
Army took an early 7-0 lead off a five-meter lineout, but Brown didn't waiver and soon evened up the scoreline when Shakeela Faulkner took it in from the wing. Flyhalf Chelsea Garber converted.
Brown continued to get some nice forward movement thanks to some heavy-hitting runs from Michelle Vander Ploeg and breaks from freshman wing Patty Ekpo. Solid rucking from Lucy Fernandez, Chahney Hinds and Vanessa Munoz kept the ball in Brown's hands, and Nay did a good job of disrupting Army's lineouts.
Two minutes before the break, Brown began with a midfield lineout, then set the forwards to work with some picks and goes before mauling toward the tryline. From two meters out, the ball worked out to Ekpo, and the youngster scored to go up by five.
Army did not let the deficit dampen their spirits, and scored two minutes into the second half. The cadets took the lead from a 10-meter lineout, and although Faulkner looked to have her hands beneath the grounding, Army found some green and went up 17-12.
That would be the last score for Army, as Brown turned it on with four tries to close out the game. After tying it up 17-all, Brown was awarded a penalty try for tripping Garber, who converted the score, 24-17. Although the battle raged on, the door closed when Ekpo scored her second try of the game, and Blaine Martin dotted off a ruck, 36-17.
With the win, Brown will take the #1 NRU seed to nationals and will play the South #2 team in the first round. As the NRU #2 seed, Army will see MARFU's #2 team, likely a weighty opponent like Navy or Virginia. Princeton finished third after defeating Radcliffe 23-10 and returns to nationals after a long hiatus, but will have the biggest challenge of all Northeast teams in facing MARFU's #1 team, most likely Penn State.
Stay tuned for player and coach feedback.