Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

Lindenwood Hosts ASU, Army Hosts Life in Tense East DIA Quarters

irish rugby tours

Lindenwood Hosts ASU, Army Hosts Life in Tense East DIA Quarters

Army is prepped. Walter Schmidlin photo.

The Eastern side of the DIA quarterfinals mirrors the Western side in that one matchup is one we've seen a couple of times before.

Lindenwood, Mid-South Champions, finally, will host Arkansas State. So often Lindenwood has started the playoffs on the road as a Mid-South runner-up. This time they got a bye only for Arkansas State to also get a bye when their Round 1 game with Texas A&M couldn't get scheduled (see here for more on that). For Arkansas State it has been a wild year, with coach Jake Mizell moving on mid-season and the program just keeping really quiet about all that and trying to play games.

The Red Wolves had their moments, pushing Life 19-15 and Lindenwood 17-5, but they also just barely got to this point. They needed to beat Davenport twice, and did so by only two points each time.

Lindenwood Head Coach Josh Macy is under no illusions that this will be an easy game. These two teams know how to ramp up the physicality. He also knows that any team will have been trying to fix issues from the last time.

"Were we a different team in early March than we are now? The players would give a resounding yes," said Macy. "So wouldn't Arkansas State be too? We've got to avoid that fundamental attribution error. We chat about it all the time in regard to scouting and how we handle opponents."

Meaning that you can't assume your efforts exist in a vacuum. You can't assume that you know everything and everyone else knows nothing. Macy has had the players studying the Dunning Kruger Effect, which is a psychological effect in which someone who has a limited knowledge base on a topic tends to overinflate how much he or she knows about a topic. The players loved studying it.

"We want to make sure we aren't at the peak of Mount Stupid by being more confident than we are competent," said Macy. "Then from a coaching perspective, can we coach to deal with our likely next opponent by honing on the similarities between them and the team in front of us? That, in this case, would be ... box kick, physical pack, making the most of transition opportunities."

On the training field Lindenwood is just busy taking it to Lindenwood. While the coaches are getting their main playoff squad ready, those who think they should be considered are taking it to the more experienced players and showing what they can do.

"They are playing a playoff match every session and are not shy about it," said Macy.

Life University had the toughest go in the opening round of the playoffs, holding off Navy 26-13. What Head Coach Colton Cariaga was happy about was his team's tenacity. It hasn't been the easiest season for Life, but no one expects Life to be easy. And they weren't. They had to defend, scrap, claw, and hold on. Sometimes that's what you need.

"The men delivered on the defensive side of the ball when it counted," said Cariaga. "We will certainly build from that effort. [I was] really pleased with the impact the subs brought. A mix of physicality and a positive rhythm to our attack. That's what we want from the bench and we will need that type of impact again." 

Navy led 13-12 50 minutes into the game before a Julian Roberts try nudged Life back into the lead. After Donovan Law's try seemed to ice it, the Running Eagles had to defend for the final 10 minutes, and barely hung on.

Against Army, it will be much of the same. Army has been preparing for this spring with a series of tough games, including one against these Running Eagles. Beating Queens University, life, Arkansas State, and Central Washington, but all in competitive matches, the Black Knights have put themselves into a much better position to move in the playoffs. 

"I wouldn’t say we’ve been fine-tuning anything," said Head Coach Matt Sherman. "We're just continuing to work hard at getting better at everything as fast as we can. I’ve absolutely loved this teams' desire to improve, and that has been consistent and relentless from Day One to the present. I suppose if there’s been one prevailing theme recently it would be work rate off the ball, but really improvement on all facets of our game have been in play for us."

This is the first time Army will host a playoff game since 2019 and the atmosphere promises to be ... loud. 

Kickoff Noon ET April 16. Watch Here>>