Sophomore Jessica Watkins was looking around for a non-varsity sport when she arrived at Stanford for her freshman year. She found rugby at the activities fair. Call it kismet.
Watkins, who only started playing the sport last year, has developed into one of the top women players in the country. She showed that again on Saturday when she scored on the final play of the game to give Stanford a 15-10 victory over Penn State in the USA Rugby Collegiate Cup Division I national championships at Stanford.
Stanford won its third national title in four years, beating defending champion Penn State in the title match.
Cardinal senior Jossy Tseng, a graduate of Palo Alto High, scored a try to give Stanford a 10-0 lead and help avenge last year's 22-21 loss to the Nittany Lions in the national finals.
Tseng started all four years for Stanford and helped her team win all three of its national crowns.
Tseng and Watkins are both members of the full United States Eagles national team.
Watkins scored five tries in Stanford's 40-20 win over Navy in Friday's semifinals.
She only scored twice on Saturday, and that's all it took.
The speedy Watkins gave Stanford a 5-0 lead early with an outside run. Tseng followed with a run up the middle, giving Stanford a 10-0 lead at halftime.
The Nittany Lions clawed back and tied the match with three minutes left.
Watkins, with no time left, scored a loose play try for the victory.
Brent Milleville had four hits, including a home run, as third-ranked Stanford beat visiting San Jose State, 9-1, in a nonconference game on Saturday.
Jason Castro added a career-high four RBI, while Toby Gerhart added two doubles for Stanford, which stopped a three-game slide.
The Cardinal (26-15) travels to San Jose State for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday and then hosts Pacific on Monday night at 6 p.m.
Austin Yount allowed four hits over seven innings to earn the victory.
Junior shortstop Maddy Coon hit a pair of home runs and drove in three runs and Michelle Smith added one of her own as Stanford downed host Oregon State, 4-2, in a Pac-10 game on Saturday.
Smith hit her 39th career homer, second on the all-time Cardinal list to Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza.
Missy Penna struck out 11 and needs 10 more to tie Dana Sorensen's 2004 single-season mark of 358.
Stanford (9-8, 44-10) plays at Oregon State on Sunday at noon. A victory would give the Cardinal its first ever sweep of both Oregon schools in the same season.
The last of Stanford senior goalkeeper Laura Shane's season-high 17 saves proved the most critical.
Shane, named the tournament MVP, stopped a Denver shot from a free position with nine seconds remaining to play to seal the Cardinal's 9-8 victory over the Pioneers in the championship match of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament on Saturday in Berkeley.
Stanford hopes for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament that begins May 11. The bracket will be announced on Sunday.
Megan McClain, Katharine Fox and Dana Lindsay were also named to the all-tournament team.
Julie Christy's goal with just over five minutes to play gave the Cardinal (12-8) a 9-5 advantage.
Christy and Sarah Flynn each had three goals and Daphne Patterson recorded four assists as Stanford won its third consecutive MPSF tournament title.
Karen Nesbitt was also announced as the MPSF's Newcomer of the Year on Saturday, while Shane, Patterson, McClain, Christy and Bri Ned were honored on the all-MPSF team.
Senior Sara Lowe made her final appearance for Stanford a memorable one. She was part of three gold-medal efforts at the U.S. Nationals on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.
More importantly, Stanford shared national team honors with the Santa Clara Aquamaids, each with a score of 40. The Cardinal won the U.S. Collegiate title earlier in the season.
Lowe won the solo event with a 95.667 and then teamed with Courtenay Stewart to win the duet title with a score of 96.00.
Lowe then completed the trifecta with her part of the team event victory; with Stanford scoring a 96.083.
The Cardinal had two other pairs place among the top eight in duet. Poppy Carlig and Melissa Knight finished fifth with a 92.583 and Debbie Chen and Taylor Durand were eighth in 90.833.
Erin Bell, Corinne Smith, Gayle Lee and Michelle Moore joined Carlig, Chen, Durand, Knight, Lowe and Stewart for the team event.