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Women's College Finals Latest

College Women

Women's College Finals Latest

Penn State held off BYU. Michael Geib photo.

Here's the latest from three championship finals in women's college rugby Saturday.

In the DII Spring Final, fall winners Davenport hammered Southern California 61-0. USC was a late addition to the game when spring champions Tulane was unable to afford the trip. So #3 USC showed up and played hard, but Davenport, who won the fall championships last December, was dominant. With four tries from center Dani Ordway and three tries from No. 8 and game MVP Hunter Moreland, Davenport powered through the much smaller USC team. Flyhalf Ashley Byrge was brilliant and scored a try - although her ability to set up tries was more important. Wing Maddy Sparks also touched down, while fullback Hannah Tennant kicked 16 points.

The unsung hero for Davenport would have to be flanker Brenna Donahue, who rescued several poor possessions, made smart passes, and tackled efficiently.

And in the DI Elite Final, Penn State defeated BYU 15-5. BYU held superiority in the scrum, but had trouble holding onto the ball in open play in a hugely physical game. The hits were think and fast and few hit harder than Penn State's freshman prop Azniv Nalbandian, who thumped player after player to the ground, and scored a try on a maul. Flyhalf Gabby Cantorna directed play well and set up the opening try with a grubber on the wet grounds that wing Scout Cheeks chased down..

Cheeks got another in open play, supporting Tess Feury. Nalbandian was the game MVP, but Cantorna sealed the game with her kicking from hand. Bitsy Cairns, Feury, and Beth Rose were also excellent.

For BYU, they had moments of brilliance, but couldn't finish off their attacking movements. Scrumhalf Nicole McCullough and fullback Jessie Beck - who put in a try-saving tackle on Fuery when Feury was over the line - were good for BYU. Prop Rebekah Boaz Hebdon scored late in the game for BYU, but Penn State prevailed 15-5.

 

And in the DI spring final, Virginia eventually ran out to a lead based on the speed of wing Joy Jefferson and their excellent rucking. UC Davis had moments of promising moves, but could not secure the ball at the breakdown. Jefferson scored three tries and tries from Summer Harris-Jones and Cary Wingo put Virginia up 25-13.

But late in the game Davis started to find gaps in the Virginia defense. Flyhalf Becca Lerhman started to find gaps in the defense, and flanker Erin Martin continued to run hard. And suddenly the tries started to come for UC Davis. Diana Nguyen scored her second, and then hooker Carol Sequeira tapped and ran in on a penalty to tie the game at 25-25.

With time up, Lehman linked on a short ball with center Eric Hipp, and the junior, who had contributed with a try and some aggressive defense, cut back against an overpursuing defnese and ran 50 meters for the game-winner.

"I just wanted to get there because no one wanted to play overtime," said Hipp.

UC Davis won the DI Spring Championship 30-25 over Virginia.