MARIETTA, Ga. – Life University simply has Davenport’s number this season, as proven by its latest win over its Mid-South rival – a 44-0 blanking of the Panthers.
Zander Van Shalkwyk was one of two Running Eagle try-scorers in the first half, and fellow midfielder Cody Melphy slotted two penalties to help push Life out to an 18-0 advantage at halftime.
Forwards Alex Maughan and Jason Riekena were among the players to get on the stat sheet in the second half. The 26-point scoring output in the final forty minutes was impressive, but it was a gritty team-led effort on defensive, including playing a man-down for 10 minutes, that made the Quarterfinal win so extraordinary.
“Holding a good team like Davenport to zero points wasn’t easy at all,” Van Shalkwyk admitted.
It was the Canterbury D1A Top 20’s No.1-ranked team’s second shutout of Davenport this season – results that could have only been produced by a combination of a well-executed game plan and a sheer want-to by the players between the lines.
“Our coaches really had us focus-in on being disciplined on defense, and made sure the mentality and aggression was there,” added the junior center.
In order to reach their fourth consecutive D1A National Championship, the Running Eagles must beat yet another Mid-South team in the Playoffs – Lindenwood. The Lions fought-off a talented Indiana side 36-28 to set up a Semifinal against Life for a second straight season.
“In a tough conference like the Mid-South, it’s business every week in training and on game day,” Van Shalkwyk said. “It has to be.”
The tireless preparation does come with its rewards, as the players are relishing its undefeated season.
“Being bale to play a game we all love with a great group of guys makes the games fun,” concluded Van Shalkwyk.
Life will host Lindenwood April 30 with a trip to the May 7 D1A National Championship Final on the line. The last time the to two highly ranked teams met the Running Eagles barely got past the Lions, 23-21.