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USA Rugby Names 3 7s Champs

  • 28 May 2019
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DII champ Bryant / All photos: Alex Ho (hoiho.net)

Lindenwood University, Air Force Academy and Bryant College won three separate divisions at the USA Rugby College 7s National Championship. Lindenwood and Air Force are repeat winners, while Bryant won its first title in its first appearance at 7s nationals.

RELATED: Elite Pool Play and Knockout Results

ELITE

The Lions came in as the favorites for the Elite trophy, having claimed the top prizes in 2018 and 2017, and coming off a repeat DI Elite 15s national championship as well. The St. Charles program beat AIC and Penn State 70-0 to start the day, and then dropped a three-point game to NIRA 15s national champion Dartmouth College.

The Big Green beat the Yellow Jackets and Nittany Lions 54-19 to finish atop Pool B, and fellow NIRA finalist Harvard University won Pool A with wins over Central Washington (17-5), Davenport University (29-12) and Life University (22-19). Dartmouth eliminated the Running Eagles with a 26-7 Cup semifinal win, while Lindenwood beat the Crimson 36-7 on day two for a berth to the final.

Photo: Alex Ho

The Lions took control of the final, sending well knowns Nika Buyten Paogofie and Teresa Bueso Gomez for tries, while Annakaren Pedraza knocked over the extras. Dartmouth freshman Ariana Ramsey kept it interesting with a try early in the second half, and Camille Johnson’s conversion made it 12-7 with five minutes to play. But then repeat MVP Caring De Freitas added a momentum-shifting score, and after a yellow card disadvantage, Lindenwood added a fourth try from Bueso Gomez. Pedraza’s two-pointers afforded a 24-7 win and national title.

Read Lindenwood’s recap of the final; read Dartmouth’s recap.

Harvard finished third with a 14-12 win over Life, while Central Washington finished fifth with a final 34-7 win over Davenport. Penn State beat AIC 34-7 for 7th place.

MVP Caring De Freitas / Photo: Alex Ho (hoiho.net)

DIVISION I

For a second-straight year, the DI fall and spring 15s champions met in the 7s final, and once again, the Air Force Academy triumphed.

During pool play, the cadets shut out teams from three different regions of the country – Northeastern (Mass.) 36-0, Iowa State 38-0 and UC Davis (Calif.) 34-0 – to top Pool A. Virginia Tech achieved similar successes, defeating Sam Houston State (Texas) 28-7, Colorado 29-0 and Princeton (N.J.) 19-10 to win Pool B.

On day two, Air Force made quick work of the Tigers, 32-5 in the Cup semifinals, while a knockout performance from All-American 7s player Jetta Owens helped the Hokies to a 15-5 Sunday win over the Aggies.

Photo: Alex Ho (hoiho.net)

The final opened with a tense five minutes, and Air Force hurt its cause with a yellow card. But the defense withstood the Hokies onslaught and once back to full strength, sent Adrienne Yoder into the try zone before the break. The conversion afforded a 7-0 lead.

Virginia Tech got on the board after the break through Nadja Ross, but then two more scores from Yoder, a 15s flanker, and conversions from Jacqueline Hamby afforded a sustainable 21-5 lead. Senior Sara Cook was named MVP, and Air Force wrapped up its second-straight national 7s title.

Princeton finished 3rd with a 43-10 win over UC Davis, and Northeastern took 5th with a 27-12 win over Sam Houston State. Colorado beat Iowa State 20-10 for 7th.

DIVISION II

It was Bryant College’s first appearance at 7s nationals, and the Rugby Northeast team had to face four Californian squads – programs that the Bulldogs would have no opportunity to see outside of 7s nationals. And unlike its Elite and DI counterparts, the fight to the DII final was tightly contested throughout.

In Pool B, San Jose State, Bryant and Cal Poly finished 2-1, and point differential sent the Spartans and Bulldogs to the Cup bracket on day two. Claremont Colleges was the best team in Pool A, going 3-0 and beating second seed Fresno State – the DII spring 15s champion – 28-15.

On day two, Bryant set the tone early in its 27-7 win over Claremont, and Fresno State claimed its berth to the final with a 26-10 semifinal win over fellow West Coast conference member San Jose State. The Foxes ended their trip to Tucson with a 45-19 3rd place win over the Spartans of NorCal.

Photo: Alex Ho (hoiho.net)

Again, in the final, five intense minutes elapsed, and then back-to-back tries from Jennifer Rosinski and Margaret Mellitt put Bryant up 10-0 into the break. Fresno State’s case worsened as a yellow card produced a penalty try, 17-0 with the second half to play.

Fresno State – also the Bulldogs – rallied well, as Meaghan Gallagher (2) and Chetna Kumar-Naicker scored tries, and REgan Garner added conversions. But a crucial fourth try from Nyatasha Jackowicz saw Bryant hold on for a 22-19 victory and title. Melissa Mallahan was named MVP.

In addition to Claremont finishing third over San Jose State, Cal Poly topped Bloomsburg (Pa.) 40-19 for fifth. Babson (Mass.) beat Stony Brook (N.Y.) 27-10 for 7th.

Photo: Alex Ho (hoiho.net)

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