SAN JOSE, Calif.
— The Lions clinched the first Women’s Rugby World Cup championship in history with a 31-17 victory over Mexico on Saturday in front of the hometown crowd at Levi’s Stadium.
It was a historic night for the women’s team, whose fans filled the stadium, some of whom carried the trophy on their shoulders.
Lions coach Julie Foudy said the game is now the only one she can watch from the sideline.
“This is the only tournament we’ve ever had where you’re watching a championship game on the field, which is a very special experience,” Foudry said.
“We’ve had some great games here, but this is the best one we’ve had.
It is very special.”
The Lions’ record of five consecutive championships is the longest in women’s rugby and the only time a women’s national team has reached the championship game.
Foudys team had five players start, but all but one of them played.
They include Allie Long, the reigning NFL Rookie of the Year who has won two World Cups with the Lions.
Fodgy Foudie, who has not coached since 2011, is the first woman to coach a team to the World Cup and the first to do so since New Zealand in 2001.
It wasn’t the only championship for the Lions, who played without all three players who started.
Long, who started the game in goal for the first time, had a second-half fumble, which was returned for a touchdown by the U.S. in the first half.
It put the Lions on the doorstep of the title game, but Fodgys defense prevented the U and Mexico from getting the ball back.
It’s the first World Cup game since 1999, when the U-20s beat Mexico in a dramatic shootout.
It marked the fourth time in six years the U’s and Lions have faced off in the finals.
Mexico opened the scoring with a 13-yard run and a 53-yard field goal by Abby Wambach in the second quarter, but the U had a three-and-out and the clock was running out.
The U-18s took a 20-12 lead at halftime.
The game was delayed twice during the half.
The Lions outgained Mexico, 546-328, and were in control in the end zone until Wambacht’s 25-yarder with 3:40 left.
Foutch said it was tough to see what would happen.
The players were very emotional, but there were no tears,” she said.
Mexico was the only team to score in the game, with five scoring on the Lions’ nine points.
Fouts’ team had been without star wide receiver Abby Wambsch, who had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in November.
She played in the final three games of the regular season before returning to the U in the postseason.
Wambbsch returned after missing the World Series with a knee injury.
Fods’ team was playing the first of four games in three weeks against the U of L. The second and third games in the series will be played in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Fols said Wamblesch is doing well and was “looking forward to a new chapter in her life.”
Wambouts husband, Kevin, has not been able to travel with his wife to New Orleans because of the World War II illness.
She said Wambersdons family is “doing well.”