|Posted by Eric Ingram on March 25, 2014 at 3:30 PM|
Well the rugby season has come to an end and I can say without any doubt in my mind that it has been the best one I've ever had. We came into the season with nothing on our minds other than making it to nationals and having success there. We competed in 5 regular season tournaments, with each one bringing more and more successes, ending with a regular season record of 23-3 (by far the most winning season I've had).
This took us to Sectionals here in Houston where we went 3-3 and earned a spot in Nationals, our main objective for the season. This forced us to set new goals, new challenges, and we all knew at that moment we wanted a championship. The TIRR Texans were seeded 4th for DII nationals and 12th overall, so we knew we had to prove ourselves.
Our first game was vs the Carolina Crash from Charlotte, NC. The pressures of the big stage disrupted the smoothly running machine we had during the season and caught us off guard. Even though we perhaps played the sloppiest game of our season, we only fell to the Crash by 2 points, 45-47. Starting off with a deficit was a horrible way to enter nationals and it was as much a mental battle as a physical one to prep for our next game.
The second game of the day had us facing the Indy Brawlers from Indianapolis. We knew we had to play as a team to right our ship, still with a championship trophy in mind. All on the same page, we played with a resilience that I've never been a part of before. Every part of our game was crisp and the end result showed it, as we beat Indy 51-40 to get our first win and finish the day 1-1. It wasn't the first day we wanted, but it still kept us in the competition for 1st.
Day 2 brought us up against familiar foes as up first we met the Tucson Roadrunners. We played Tucson twice only 3 weeks ago at Sectionals where they first beat us by 6 and then only by 1. We had developed a game plan to win in that second game, but just couldn't implement it in time, now we knew what to do. The TIRR Texans and I focused on our game and our individual tasks to ensure a victory, and when we absolutely needed to, we took them down 48-41. Now with our record for the weekend 2-1, it forced a 3 way tie in our pool (Tucson and Carolina also were 2-1). The tie was broken using the head-to-head match-ups of the teams as well as point differential in the scores, leading to the Texans being first in our pool, followed by Tucson and then Charlotte, with Indy in 4th. Even with the loss on Saturday, we were still in a position to win everything, something we didn't think was possible.
Later that day brought the crossover game against another foe we faced earlier in the season, the Nor Cal Quakes. We had met the Quakes 2 times previously this season in tournament championship games, and they bested us both times. If there was ever a moment to overcome a seemingly impossible obstacle, this was that moment. We had to overcome the past and overcome anything else that stood in our way to win the game. That's exactly what we did. We had never played a better game before this. Everyone was calm, everyone was focused, and everyone gave 100% for the whole 32 minutes. Despite everyone's preconceived notions of how they thought the game would go, we emerged victorious, taking down the Quakes 54-43.
Winning the crossover got us to where we only dreamed of getting, to the championship game. In my 9 year career in the sport, this was my first chance to play for the title, it was an awe inspiring moment that I won't forget. Sunday, at 12:15 EST on March 23, 2014 we were set to play for the Division 2 National Championship versus the San Diego Sharp Edge.
We all did our pre-game rituals as close to normal as possible, trying to treat it as any other game we've played in, but you could feel the tension. Every one of us felt the gravity of the situation and we could feel the energy around us. We went on stage and warmed up as normal, then it became real. We huddled as a team to prep for the moment, to take in our surroundings and mentally prepare ourselves. As begins almost all great sports moments, the National Anthem was sung, further enhancing the nerves and butterflies within all of us. Then each member of the team was announced and each of us went to shake the hands of the officiating crew and then the opposing head coach. Now was the time, all that we had worked for this season, all of the practices, all of the training, exercising, preparation, came to this. It was game time.
The TIRR Texans and I had played Sharp once before this season. They weren't quite full strength, but were still tough as we edged them out by I believe 6 points. This would not be the same situation, they were full strength and wanted to seize the championship every bit as much as we did. The tip off happened and then it's mostly all a blur to me. There were ups and downs and neither team, at any point, had a clear advantage. It was hard hitting, evenly matched and an amazing game to be a part of. It was a battle every second of every quarter and after 32 minutes...it was a tie. This forced the only overtime of the weekend. We would have 3 more minutes to find out who would prevail. The overtime tip off went to Sharp as they scored the goal to put us at a 1 point deficit to start. For those 3 minutes we fought as hard as we could and left everything on the court. A missed pass with 16 seconds left on the clock would seal our fate as we fell to Sharp 51-50 in overtime. It was an amazing game and I am proud to have been a part of it.
The TIRR Texans and I would finish the tournament 3-2, taking our post season record to 6-5 and our overall record to 29-8. We are now ranked 2nd in Division 2 and 10th overall in the nation. This was the best season I've ever had and it is all due to my team, the coaches, staff and fans. I thank you all for your support and encouragement over the year and look forward to all of our accomplishments next season.