The 2017/18 D1A Rugby Championship match has been set. After this weekend which featured a toughly fought set of semifinals, Life and Cal have advanced through to duke it out for the title. Life had to pass through a Penn State team that had shown resiliency all year round, and Cal was pushed for the full eighty by a strong Lindenwood side.
Penn State travelled to Life over the weekend, to take on the only undefeated team left in the competition. Life got off to a hot start, scoring within the first minute of the game. The entire first twenty minutes, in fact, was all one-way traffic with Life crossing for five tries to take a commanding 29-0 lead. However, Penn State had found themselves in situations like this throughout the year, and always found a way out of these predicaments. On Saturday, they looked as if they could be on their way of digging themselves out the hole they were in. However, when they crossed in the line in the 29th minute to cut the lead to 22, Life had an immediate answer for them. Life’s ability to suffocate any of Penn State’s risings throughout the game, was a major factor in their ability to win the match. Going into the half Life lead, 41-7. Penn State were able to tighten up defensively in the second half, but Life still proved to be too dominant for the men from State College. Life advances to Santa Clara via a 69-14 score line.
In the second semifinal of the weekend Cal took on Lindenwood in Moraga, CA. It was the Lions who dominated the first ten minutes of the match, playing it all down in Cal’s half. The deadlock was broken by Lindenwood, after a brilliant piece of counter attack spread the Cal defense thin and the Lions dotted the ball down under the posts. Cal bounced back, and did all of the scoring in the next thirty minutes, putting up twenty-four unanswered points. Despite the scoring outburst, the game was much closer than the score line appeared and it was Cal’s ability to score from anywhere on the field that predominantly separated the two teams. A bit of luck, however, on the stroke of half time helped Lindenwood reduce the deficit, as a charged down kick landed in the hands of a Lions player cutting Cal’s lead at the half to ten.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, with Lindenwood getting on the board first, via a penalty. Still, Cal was able to show off their prowess and respond immediately scoring another fourteen unanswered points to push their lead out to a secure twenty-one points. Lindenwood struck back with ten minutes left to bring the contest within 16 points, but a try to Cal with five minutes left was the final nail in the coffin. Cal advances to the Champion match after putting away a determined Lions side. Final score 43-22.
This will mark the 6th consecutive year that Life has found its way into the D1A Championship match, and it will mark the first time that Cal has appeared since 2011, when they were crowned champions.