Lindenwood made it three Men’s National 7s titles in a row Saturday, defeating AIC 36-0 in the final in Tucson, AZ.
The Lions shut out an AIC team that had been very impressive throughout the weekend, a program that used to be coached by current Lindenwood head coach Josh Macy.
“It was pretty cool and a little weird to play them,” said Macy. “I recruited some of their players and coached some of them. Obviously they’ve developed a lot since I coached them, but it was really great to see them and to meet Fletch.”
Fletch would be T. Fletcher, the YellowJackets’ new head coach, who has AIC playing some of its best sevens in a while.
“The Lindenwood guys know I coached there and they understand it’s such a tight-knit place there, so they’ve always been AIC fans as well,” added Macy. “So we were happy for them that they got to the final.”
Getting to the final wasn’t a sure thing for Lindenwood. The opening game of Friday saw USC almost upend the defending champs in a 17-14 decision. Lindenwood them picked it up through pool play to take the top seed in the knockout rounds.
“Sevens is tough and if you’re not ready it can hurt you,” said Macy. “I think we didn’t start either day very well. We wanted to manage minutes for everyone and have every player be in a game playing an important role. But then you’ve got [All American] Christian Rodriguez in street clothes carrying water against USC and they’ve got a chance to beat us.”
It was perhaps a bit of a wakeup call, and while Saturday’s quarterfinal against Ohio State wasn’t quite the same—Lindenwood won 22-7—it wasn’t a runaway, either.
Then came the semis, where the Lions trailed Central Washington 14-5 at halftime, and 14-10 with two minutes to go.
That’s when Connor Burns cut through after a somewhat confused passage of play, and scored to secure a 17-14 win.
“I think we all kind of felt like Central should have won that game,” said Macy. “We certainly didn’t feel like it was a winning performance.”
Against AIC, the Lindenwood team was fired up, and unstoppable. Wes White charged over in the first minute, and was over the tryline again soon thereafter.
The powerful forward was good for another either side of halftime, and eight minutes in Lindenwood led 29-0 and cruised 36-0.
For AIC it was just one game too far on a day that saw them upend Arizona and Davenport. Lindenwood, however, was on a level all their own.
“They just got more confident and more disciplined as the day went on,” said Macy.
USA Rugby D1A College 7s Final Standings:
4. Central Washington
5. Ohio State
7. Notre Dame College, Grand Canyon
10. Cal Poly
11. Indiana, Minnesota