Life West Wins DII

Life West Wins DII

by Jackie Finlan Photo: USA Rugby Life West won the DII club national championship 66-20 over 2015 titleholder Wisconsin today at Glendale’s Infinity Park. The trophy is a mighty achievement for the NorCal side in its first official season, but the outcome is unsurprising considering Life West’s consistently dominant performance this spring. The trouble started right from the kickoffs. Flanker Mele Taumoefolau was a beast in the return and necessitated gang tackles to stop her forward momentum. Scrumhalf Nikki Kenyon kept that ball moving away from the contact point, as did flyhalf Megan Foster, who on more than one occasion angled through the line herself. Wisconsin lost its flyhalf, Elisa Becker, during Friday’s captain run, and that field presence is irreplaceable. The Gladiatrix shone in open play. Ballcarriers were well supported and looking for that offload, confident in their timed passes, and powerful enough to fend or spin out of contact to keep the ball in play. After that first missed tackle, the fast phases followed, and Life West was nearly impossible to stop. The scoreboard lit up one minute into the match as inside center Fina Toetu’u went on the first of several exciting runs. A slipped tackle on the sideline saw wing Angelina Lomu score the first of her three tries. Prop Catie Benson accounted for the following two tries, capitalizing on breakaways from No. 8 Jennifer Sever and fullback Cameo Motley. Benson later scored a breakaway try of her own, outpacing the pursuing defenders for close to 70 meters. Wisconsin got on the board approximately 15 minutes in when a missed switch deep in Life West’s end...
Gladiatrix Best in the West

Gladiatrix Best in the West

By Jackie Finlan Photo: City View Photography (Aubrey Huey) Thus far, Life West has made the most of its first official season, advancing to the DII club national championship after back-to-back wins last weekend. The Gladiatrix traveled to sunny Tucson, Ariz., and bettered Ventura and Houston Athletic by a combined 159-37. But it wasn’t all bright skies for the Hayward, Calif., side. In its quarterfinal against Ventura, Life West lost two influential contributors: flanker Morgan Rovetti to a broken leg and center Jenn Sever to a strained calf. The forwards shuffled around, as hooker Aubrey Huey moved to flanker, and Sarah MacArthur came off the bench to slot into the front row. Hali Deters bumped in from the wing. Nevertheless, Life West played the fast, wily game for which it’s known and defeated the Outlaws 62-29 (read more on the quarterfinals). Ventura surged in the second half and logged the most points-against the Gladiatrix all season. “They did put us under some pressure – more so than we’ve had in the back half of the season,” Life West coach Alex Houser said. “They put a good number of points on us. “It was a combination of making a couple [personnel] changes and maybe a little mental drop-off,” the coach spoke to the fourth-quarter scoring. “The Ventura girls kept fighting and running hard. They didn’t hang their heads at all, despite being down quite a bit at half.” Houser welcomed the day-one pressure, as Ventura illuminated some areas on defense that needed refinement. The coach reviewed the need for better scanning and wider spacing, and the team did well to...
Life West Gladiators Prepare for USAR Playoffs

Life West Gladiators Prepare for USAR Playoffs

Coming off of an exciting win in the Pacific Coast Championship, the Gladiators suit up and polish their skills going into the next week’s playoffs. I spoke with fullback Tyler Harrison to get the latest news on the team’s mindset going into next week’s game.   “We scored a try in the last three minutes of last week. The guys showed a lot of heart,” says Tyler. “It was a win but we played well in spurts. Going into next week’s game we expect to play an excellent 80 minutes and we expect to win, just like last year.” I asked Tyler how he plans to defend Life West’s title, and he said “We have to have the right battle mind set. All eight teams will be well prepared and we’re going to have to fight. We need to focus on the fundamentals, and hold composure in crunch times.” The team gets some of its toughness from their captain Akuila Uaisele, who leads by example and is one of the hardest tacklers in the league. Guys have really stepped up lately. With Zach Tannous at the lock position playing very well and making big tackles, and Calvin Nell scoring three tries in the last three games, Life West is going for the win. Josh Drake has had many good carries as of late, and Anthony Munoz runs like the wind and “makes the game fun to watch.” Hopes are high for the Gladiators, but they won’t be satisfied with anything but a win in next week’s USAR Championship game....
Gladiatrix Pumped for Nationals Debut

Gladiatrix Pumped for Nationals Debut

By Jackie Finlan  In a certain regard, Life West is like many teams. The Gladiatrix dominated their local and – as last weekend showed – regional competition and have had to rely on each other and the staff to challenge themselves. But Life West is a new entity, playing in its first official NorCal season, so every step deeper into the DII national post-season is a first. The program itself is young, but the roster’s experience isn’t. The ranks are filled with players who have competed in elite, high-pressure games, ranging from international tests with the USA 15s team, to the Women’s Premier League, to DI college and high school national championships. “We have girls who have been in quite a few playoff games and high-level matches, and it’s great that they can provide leadership on the field,” Life West coach Alex Houser said. “They drive the standard and expectations of the squad. Across the board, everyone – even some of the lesser experienced girls – have set high goals for themselves.” Loose forward/lock Megan Pinson and scrumhalf Nikki Kenyon are responsible for driving the on-field performance. They keep the squad focused during run-away games and attentive during training. “Any time you’re in a situation with a team that is winning by large margins, players can sometimes close off their ears to messages from the coaches and things like that,” Houser said. “All in all, they’ve been pretty receptive to what we’ve been telling them, that we’re going to run into a team that is as good if not better than us. And we need to be prepared.” The...

LIFE WEST STAYS PERFECT IN D1 CLUB SCORE BREAKDOWN

By Evan Lappen With five weeks remaining until the start of the DI Men’s Club National Playoffs, the race to the next National Champion is coming into focus. The divisions are sorting out their seeding to get ready for conference championship play. Life West Gladiators remains undefeated after this weekend’s matchups. In the last weekend of the regular season for NorCal, Life West (10-0) stomped the EPA Razorbacks (7-2-1). With the NorCal Conference playoffs starting next week, this was the last Saturday to sort out any kinks. Life West ran away with the conference a long time ago and the other divisional leader, Santa Rosa, ended the regular season on a down note losing to the Sacramento Lions, 50-7. In the first round of the playoffs, Life West plays the Lions....