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Penn State Wins 3rd Doubleheader

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Penn State Wins 3rd Doubleheader

Fifth-year senior Hope Rogers started in both matches (Photo courtesy KLC fotos - Travis Prior // USA Rugby)

Reigning DI champion Penn State capped its Big Ten regular season with a 60-12 win over Indiana on Sunday, and takes the top seed into the conference championship on Nov. 7-8. The victory came a day after the team’s 29-14 win over the Pittsburgh Angels, the former DII club champion and a DI semifinalist last spring. The back-to-back games marked the Nittany Lions’ third double-header this fall.

On Saturday, the teams traded tries during the first half, with All American flanker Taylah Pipkin and Eagle prop Hope Rogers accounting for Penn State’s scores. Tess Feury added a penalty to her conversion to give PSU a 15-14 lead into the half.

The second stanza saw Penn State’s fitness take a leading role. Tries from Rogers and a pushover scrum, as well as two more conversions, gave the visitors the 29-14 win.

“The match against the Pittsburgh Angels was one of our hardest games we have played this fall, but I wouldn't say it was the toughest,” Pipkin considered the fall lineup. “Their team had very strong runners and tested our defense.

“I would have to say the weekend we played Lindenwood and Army was our hardest competition,” Pipkin continued. “The game against Army seemed to be the hardest because of the quick turn-around while playing two very physical teams. We made that game hard on ourselves because we weren't mentally prepared at that point in the season for two competitive games back to back.”

With the exception of Rogers and Courtney Williams - who has proven herself a stalwart defender at flanker this season - an entirely different lineup started against Indiana. Team chemistry was not an issue, and Penn State controlled the game, sending Rogers, Williams, Gabby Cantorna, Katie Mueller, Elaine Santiago, and Scout Cheeks in for tries.

Although Penn State is re-acclimating itself to the demands of playoff weekends, Pipkin resisted the notion that the team is getting a genuine feel for what it might look like in the post-season. Unlike last year, when Penn State was building toward the DI fall championship, PSU is competing in the spring DI Elite championship. That means that the Nittany Lions can focus on player development and cohesion during the fall, and postpone that championship build until the New Year, after the inevitable player turnover. 

Even though it was difficult for Penn State to peak during both the fall and spring in the 2014-15 season, Pipkin lamented the omission of a fall championship.

“It is fun having an end goal to look and work toward,” the All American admitted. “Championship drives are bonding experiences that brings you much closer to your teammates.”

All in good time. Penn State will play Navy on Oct. 31 before the Big Ten championship.