Aside from a narrow B team loss in September, the Lindenwood women’s rugby team has been without a single defeat going into the last month of the season.
The Lions have won eight out of ten matches total this season, with only one loss and one tie. Their winning streak has been going on since they won the Division I 15’s Elite National Championship in May. Two weeks later, the Lions successfully defended their Sevens title to become back-to-back national champions.
The Lions continued their dominance in June when they traveled to Pennsylvania to compete in the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Sevens Championships and won the title for the first time in the history of the program. Lindenwood defeated Penn State with a 21-12 score. This win would make them three-time national champions.
“It feels so good [to have won], I’m so proud because we achieved what we wanted and what the program looked for so long,” Caring De Freitas, a sophomore from Caracas, Venezuela, said. “Winning a triple crown is incredible because it means all of our efforts that we have put into this team were worth it and are giving results.”
Head Coach Billy Nicholas said that the experience was “a dream come true.”
“It truly was a surreal experience and still feels as such,” Nicholas said. “It was a collaborative outcome of all of our alumni and coaches that founded the program and the work they put in along with our current staff and players.”
Also during the summer, several Lindenwood rugby players were selected to compete in the Team USA 15’s Senior National Tour, and two represented their home countries in the Rugby World Cup in July
Coming back to Lindenwood in September, the team started off the season with a 38-24 win against Life University in Oakland, California.
According to the Lindenwood Athletics website, Life was on a winning streak and had defeated tough teams before encountering Lindenwood, making it one of the hardest matches the Lions have participated in.
The next weekend, the Lions B Team traveled to Colorado to play against the Glendale Merlins and came out with a 29-17 win.
Following this match, the Lions hosted two matches against the Kansas City Jazz Women’s RFC and the St. Louis Sabres. The Lions defeated the Jazz 82-14, scoring 50 points in the first half and 32 points in the second half, while shutting out Kansas City. However, the B team match against the Sabres presented a tougher challenge.
The Sabres started with an early lead 21-17 in the first half. On the second half, Lindenwood managed to score several times in a row to gain a short lead, but the Sabres pushed through and ended up with a close 46-43 win. This was the B team’s first and only loss of the season.
“We know a loss will occur as is inevitable in all sports, but we are focused on staying present and putting all we can into each training session or lift and looking to get to our best level of play rather than focusing too much on upcoming opponents,” Nicholas said.
With their heads held high, the Lions competed in a DI Elite Conference match against Central Washington in October. The Lions scored 17 points in the first half, while the Wildcats struggled to score. On the second half, the Lions secured the win by posting another 43 points to sweep the Wildcats 60-0.
The Lions faced a significant challenge in their Oct. 14 match against the Elite national champion Penn State in Indiana.
Once the match started, the Lions didn’t waste any time and accrued an early lead of 22-0. Penn State struggled to score at all, giving the Lions the advantage to score another 44 points, sweeping Penn State 66-0.
The Lions are now 5-0 overall going into the last two tournaments of the season. They will travel to Arkansas for the Arkansas 15’s tournament before hosting the Stars 15’s on Nov. 18.
Nicholas said he expects the team to keep growing and developing their skills by trying different combinations on the field and giving the athletes play time.
“The want to win is always there by every coach and player, no one goes into a sports contest without that desire, but our focus will remain on continuing to make our minor tweaks and adjustments as we move towards our spring season,” Nicholas said.