BOULDER, Colo. – After a win over Arkansas State and pushing Life University for 80 minutes, Davenport looks like a much improved side. However, it’s Lindenwood that is the team experiencing just its second season of D1A Rugby, and the young Lions believe they have improved tenfold.
From team culture to fitness, Lindenwood has made positive strides in all aspects of the program during the 2014-15 season.
“We’ve stepped up to match the level of competition in our conference, and have fixed a lot of little problems we had last season,” said AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Mike Gierlach. “All of the boys have an equal feeling that we could finish at the top of the conference.”
The Lions have an opportunity tomorrow to display just how much the team has improved when they visit No. 2-ranked Life. As the 2014 Mid-South Conference Champions, Life will be considered top dog in the league until someone knocks them off its pedestal. Lindenwood, however, might not be that far off. No team in the conference played Life tighter last season than the Lions. In fact, in its two head-to-head matches, Lindenwood only lost to the 2013 D1A National Champions by a combined eight points.
Gierlach, who captains this year’s Lindenwood team, believes he knows what he and his mates must do better to end Life’s current Mid-South winning streak.
“We’re going to have to be clutch,” explained the lock. “We fared pretty well against Life, but we weren’t able to finish strong in the final minutes of the game. I believe that aspect of our game will continue to improve.”
Lindenwood hasn’t had a 15s match in four weeks, but did compete in sevens at last month’s Las Vegas Invitational. The team has also been forced to stay indoors due to the typical bitter winter weather Missouri provides this time of year. Still, the team feels like preparation ahead of this match has gone as well as it could’ve hoped.
“It’s been a bit of a concern with the weather and balancing sevens, but luckily we have a very deep squad that allows us to train hard and get quality reps at practice,” said Gierlach.
The March 7 matchup between Life and Lindenwood will kickoff at 12 p.m. ET and will be available via Life University’s webcast: Life Rugby Webcast.