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Lindenwood did it again, Wisconsin-Whitewater didn't, and Air Force claimed some additional glory for its long-successful program as the USA Rugby Collegiate Sevens Championships wrapped up Sunday at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO.
Lindenwood took home two national sevens titles for the second year in a row. Led by the try-scoring trio of Wesley White, Deion Mikesell, and Nick Feakes, Lindenwood's men's team was very impressive defensively, giving up its first points in the final after shutting out Missouri, Utah, and Arkansas in pool play and Indiana and Grand Canyon in the knockout rounds.
Meanwhile, Cal showed some fortitude in bouncing back from a humbling D1A final loss just two weeks ago to field a very useful sevens team. Justin Dunn and Christian Dyer had some breakout performances as the Bears went 5-0 to make the final, before falling to Lindenwood 26-12.
Tries: White, Feakes, Mikesell, Schoeman
Convs: Feakes 3
Tries: Tavenner, Coyle
In the women's D1 bracket, the Lions weren't quite as dominant as their men's D1 counterparts. Lindenwood went 2-1 in pool play, hammering Dartmouth, just holding off Central Washington, and losing to Penn State.
In Sunday's semis, Penn State took care of Army thanks to two tries from Tess Feury and scoring from Gabby Cantorna, Kayla Canett, Ellie Fromstein, and Scout Cheeks. Meanwhile, Lindenwood edged Pool B winner Life, with Kodi Barlow's try at the end of the game putting the Lions ahead 15-14. Recently announced Sorensen Award winner McKenzie Hawkins iced it with the conversion.
In the final, Lindenwood owned the rematch with Penn State, shutting out the Nittany Lions and getting four unconverted tries from players who don't always sit atop the scoring stats. It was a complete performance as Lindenwood logged the 15s-sevens double.
Tries: Paogofie-Buyten, Barlow, Lewis, Tarau-Peehikuru
Penn State 0
The U.S. Air Force Academy won the fall D1 title in 15s in 2016 and several overall women's D1 championships in the early 2000s. This time the Zoomies took home the Women's Open Sevens title, blasting through their opening pool games on Saturday.
After shutting out Queen's University and Sam Houston State, Air Force had to battle Chico State and emerged victorious 19-14, thanks to Olufunmilayo Akinlosotu's late try.
It was the same story in the knockout rounds. A blistering 41-0 shutout of Texas A&M set up a rematch with CSU, which had ousted Princeton 36-5. The teams traded tries to a 12-10 Chico State lead at halftime. Sara Cook's try put Air Force ahead 15-12 only for the Wildcats to retake the lead when Darby McFall went over.
As time expired, though, AFA did it again and Jessica Beyer scored to win it all for the Zoomies.
Air Force 20
Tries: Beyer 2, Cook, Other
Chico State 17
Tries: Vicino-Bergerhouse, McFall 2
Wisconsin-Whitewater was looking to make it a two-time 15s-sevens double, having taken the national D2 15s title twice and the D2 sevens title last year. While pool play was characterized by some tight games, Whitewater emerged 3-0. So did UNC-Charlotte and Norwich.
But on day two the very fit Warhawks exploded, shutting out Old Dominion and NC State to make the final. Charlotte also scored impressive wins over Principia and Bloomsburg (which had upset Norwich in the quarters) but leaked tries in those games.
Regardless, the final was all Charlotte. Michael Basnett, who had previously starred at Lindenwood, scored and converted two tries in the opening two minutes. Alex Treuthardt and Jeremy Bartels made a game of it with tries to bring the score to 14-10, but Basnett stuck a third time before the break.
The second half was all UNC-Charlotte, and the 49ers had a national title.
Tries: Basnett 4, Huntley, Jackson
Convs: Basnett 4, Jackson
Tries: Treuthardt, Bartels