Life prop Angie Owen against Penn State /// Photo: KJ Feury
Last weekend was a good one for underdogs. Tulane emerged from a 10-year hiatus to win the DII spring championship; Bend upset the previously undefeated Emerald City for the Pacific Northwest title; and BYU won its first game against Central Washington in the DI Elite semifinals. But it was Life University that came so close to overcoming a substantial handicap against the best team in the country, and that was enough for a Player of the Week nod.
Indiana University withdrew from the DI Elite quarterfinals only days before kickoff. With no other options available, USA Rugby was forced to award reigning DI national champion Penn State, Indiana’s Round of 8 opponent, a bye into the semifinals during the double-header weekend. As a result, Life defeated Lindenwood in the closest quarterfinal across the field, and then turned around to face a fresh Penn State Sunday.
The Running Eagles didn’t bemoan their plight, but prepared their heads and bodies for the toughest opponent it would face all year. Leading performances abounded, but one stood out.
“I honestly thought Angelica Owen, our tighthead prop, played the games of her life,” Life coach Ros Chou considered the two-game weekend. “If not for her, we wouldn’t have had that scrum drive try against Lindenwood, or several of our turnovers against Penn State – she initiated several choke tackles that gave us possession.”
Owen is a sophomore who joined the Running Eagles from Saugerties High School in New York. She played 73 minutes against Lindenwood Saturday and then 80 minutes against Penn State Sunday. The prop faced three different looseheads against Penn State, which is renowned for its scrum work. Life loosehead Megan Rom joined Owen in inspirational performances and had the assist on Kaitlyn Broughton’s try against Penn State.
“The front row doesn’t get a lot of recognition, and Angie really was clutch for us,” Chou praised. “She really played out of her mind.”
Life lost to an elite team that is now moving onto the national title match against BYU. In the process, Life impressed the country with its strength of program and for being the toughest American college team that Penn State has seen in years.