The United States Military Academy women's team finally broke through the Penn State/Stanford stranglehold on women's college rugby as the Black Knights held off Penn State 33-29 Saturday in Palo Alto behind a sensational scoring performance from wing Anne Lee.
Army held an impressive 33-19 lead with time winding down and survived a furious Nittany Lions comeback, that featured several balls held up in-goal. However, Penn State did manage to score two late tries to make it interesting.
Penn State's pack exerted control early on and stuffed Army back toward their line. The consistent pressure rewarded Penn State with a try from outstanding prop Lauren Poole. Sadie Anderson converted for a 7-0 lead.
Pool provided all sorts of trouble for Army, and the attention they needed to give her set up a chance for Hannah Gregor, whose try gave Penn State a 12-0 lead.
But then Jess Sexauer and Anne Lee took over. The Army fullback was sensational. She set up Anne Lee's first try, and then set off from her goal line and broke through before sending a long pass for Lee's second.
The combination proved deadly to Penn State, as Sexauer then intercepted a pass five meters from her line and took off, finally handing off to Lee once more as the defense bore down. 19-12 Army led.
Penn State got one back to tie it, but in the second half, Lee scored two more breakaways, converting both, to put her side ahead 33-19.
This is the first time Army has won the national women's collegiate title, although they have frequently been visitors to the final four.
This is the first year since 2003 that a team other than Penn State or Stanford has won the DI title. And that year was also the last time a service academy, in this case Air Force, won.
Tries: Lee 5
Convs: Lee 4
Penn State 29
Tries: Poole, Gregor, Barber 2, Pheil
Convs: Anderson 2