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In front of a record crowd of nearly 15,000 fans at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., the first day of the 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship ended with the usual suspects advancing to the quarterfinals on Sunday. Most of the pools boiled down to the final match of the afternoon. Emerging from the six pools, Saint Mary’s, Arkansas State, Lindenwood, UCLA, Cal, and Indiana won their divisions with Kutztown and Life as the wild cards.
Based on standing points and point differential, the cup round matchups are as follows: #1 Cal vs #8 Kutztown, #4 Indiana vs #5 UCLA, #3 Lindenwood vs #6 Arkansas State, and #2 Saint Mary’s vs #7 Life. The quarterfinals begin at 10:00 am EST on Sunday.
In Pool A, the division was decided in the last game of play between Saint Mary’s and Dartmouth. Each club defeated Boston College and Temple earlier in the day so the head-to-head match-up was vital. Dartmouth scored first to lead at halftime, but the Gaels couldn’t be held back in the second half. Saint Mary’s broke out for 26 unanswered points in the second frame to advance to the quarterfinals.
Much like the previous division, Pool B came down to the final test between Arkansas State and Life University. The match went back and forth with Life tying it at 19-19 with no time remaining. Knowing it had the upper hand on point differential, Arkansas State kicked the ball into touch to accept the tie and win the pool. Neither Wisconsin nor Notre Dame had success against the top two teams and Wisconsin won the head-to-head.
After winning the Las Vegas Invitational and the USA Collegiate 7s National Championship, Lindenwood continued to its winning path with a 3-0 record and a +60 point differential. Army finished in second place that included a 17-14 win over Navy in their final game in the stadium. St. Joseph’s was able to pick up a 17-10 win against Navy for its lone victory of the day.
In the most challenging pool on Saturday, UCLA won Pool D over strong teams in Arizona and AIC. After beating Virginia Tech and tying AIC earlier in the day, UCLA emerged the pool a 17-12 victory against Arizona. The Wildcats had a chance to win the pool against UCLA, but could not maintain it lead in the second half. AIC could not be happy with Saturday as the Yellowjackets ended with ties against UCLA and Virginia Tech and a victory over Arizona.
Dealing with many outside factors, Cal focused on the task at hand to win all three of its games in Pool E. The Golden Bears beat Clemson, Penn State, and Delaware in order to finish with a +84 point differential. Clemson and Penn State ended with a victory apiece while last year’s Challenger Cup winner, Delaware, struggled against the higher competition.
The top teams of Pool F waited until the penultimate match of Saturday to determine the division winner. Kutztown and Indiana beat the South Carolina and Tennessee by a combined total of 134-7 with the Bears shutting out both teams. In the match between the Bears and Hoosiers, Indiana built a 24-0 from which Kutztown unable to recover from. The Bears were able to fight back to a 29-19 result to qualify as a wild card in the cup rounds.