By Elena P. Cantorna
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Penn State Women’s rugby team brought home the Big 10 trophy after two hard fought games at Ohio State’s Beekman Fields. On Saturday, the lady ruggers took on the University of Michigan, winning 53-10.
The game started off slowly for the Lady Lions as Michigan forwards picked up a loose pass to score the first try of the game within the opening minutes. However, a strike by inside center Corey Meanix tied the game a few moments later.
The lady ruggers quickly built on that momentum as Elena Cantorna quick-tapped a penalty and used a stiff arm to beat three defenders before moving the ball to speedster Anastasia Worrell for the try. The conversion attempt was missed, leaving the score at 10-5, in Penn State’s favor.
After some more strike lines through the centers, Michigan committed a penalty, which enabled Cantorna to score off a quick tap. Gabriella Cantorna converted the try.
A string of penalties on Penn State allowed Michigan forwards to dive into the try zone to make the score 17-10.
Penn State put two more tries on the board by Taylah Pipkin and Anastasia Worrell, with one of conversion being made.
The third try came from eight-man Kyla Chipman just before the half. E. Cantorna made the conversion to make the score 36-10 at halftime.
A tightly officiated game lead to more penalties on Michigan and lock Pipkin, inside center Kacy Dux, and prop Catherine Benson punished the mistakes with tries of their own. Replacement scrumhalf Brie Barto slotted her lone conversion attempt by drop kick to make the final score 53-10, Penn State.
Penn State moved on to play Indiana University in the Big 10 Championship on Sunday afternoon. There, the lady ruggers came out firing with a try by eight-man Annie Lucas. After a series of penalties on Indiana, hooker Andrea Villanova scored the second of try of the game under the posts and the conversion was made by E. Cantorna to make the score Penn State 12, Indiana 0.
Penn State struggled with penalties and after a long defensive try-line stance the ball was moved to Indiana’s inside center to put the hoosiers on the board.
Shortly after the Penn State forwards fought back and Benson powered in for her first try of the game, which was converted by E. Cantorna – 19-5, Penn State.
The next two tries came from two of Penn State’s speedsters, in center Lauren Barber and wing Bianca Dalal to make the score Penn State 29 to Indiana 5.
After the break Penn State picked up right where they left off with a try by center Olivia Lindsey and Barto. E. Cantorna made one of the two conversion kicks.
However, Penn State again struggled to fight off the penalties, resulting in a yellow-card. Indiana capitalized on the advantage to rush in a try. The conversion was made to lessen the deficit to 29-12.
Dalal quickly struck back with her second try of the game and E. Cantorna made the conversion to take the score to Penn State 48, Indiana 12.
Penn State was able to addd three more tries to the game after two sin bins against Indiana. Captain and flanker Kelsey Harris, Lucas, and Meanix each added five points to round out the final score to Penn State 63, Indiana 12.
“We knew Indiana was going to be a tough team and they were,” said Harris following the game. “We knew that there would be times that they put us under a lot of pressure and they did, but we knew if we stuck to the things we did well we would be successful.”
Penn State looks to the Keystone Rugby Tournament and a match against the Keystone Women. Then the lady ruggers will be hosting USA Rugby Playoffs at West Fields, April 26-27.
The hosts will take on James Madison University in the first round.