MEGAN COURTNEY | A&E Editor
With a final score of 36-8, Lindenwood defeated Life University and claimed the D1 15’s Elite National Title Saturday night at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, California.
According to the Lindenwood Rugby website, the Lady Lions played a semifinal match the day before and started off strong during the finals. They continued strong into the second half with “great ball possession, attack and defense.”
Head Coach Billy Nicholas said in an email that he couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and commitment the student athletes have put in over the last year.
“It is a great accomplishment to finish as the top team in the nation and win our second national championship in two years time, and we are excited to continue to grow and represent our school to our best ability,” Nicholas said.
Destiny Arena, a member of the team, said in a Facebook message that the “feeling was incredible.”
“The team’s chemistry on the field was phenomenal,” she said. “The amount of hard work we put in this season truly showed when we stepped out on that field. We knew what we were in for and we handled in well and came out with the result we wanted. It gave us a chance to go out there and show our coaches how much we wanted it not just for ourselves, but for them.”
Arena said winning the title is “still such a blur.”
“Being able to do that for senior Ariana Lewis and our coaches makes it that much more meaningful,” Arena said.
Ariana Lewis, another rugby team member, said in a Facebook message that winning almost felt “unreal.”
“From the year when I first started, it didn’t feel like nationals was a possibility and each year I’ve been here, we’ve gotten closer and closer,” Lewis said. “Finally winning the championship was amazing because the team’s hard work has paid off. Being able to experience the result we wanted was awesome.”
Isabel Manu, a sophomore on the team, said in a Facebook message that winning the title was “like exhaling for the first time.”
“It was such a final breath to what my team has worked so hard for. In the moments leading up to it, we were just so focused on finishing the game,” Manu said. “When the referee signaled the end of the game, everything lit up and we were finally able to just breathe and realize we are champions and every moment was worth it for this one.”
The title is the first 15’s for Lindenwood and second overall title after winning the USA Rugby D1 Collegiate 7s title last year.
According to the website, the Lady Lions will play at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, May 18-19 to defend their 7s title.