Philadelphia - Everyone loves an upset, especially when it's the hometown team. As the only DII team in the women's USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship, Temple knew it had its work cut out for it. The Owls were taxed early, when it had to begin its day with Penn State, losing 34-0, but were rewarded for their resiliency in the following game.
|Temple moved the ball more vs Brown. (Marvin Dangerfield)|
With some room to breathe, Temple was finally able to play some offense, and it became clear early on that the Owls wanted to attack with its wings.
"We have really fast wings, so we knew that if we could get it down the line and draw in the defense in the center, they'd get around the defense," Temple captain Rachel Bandura said.
"We're in a unique position," Temple coach Owen Jones added. "All of our girls are fast but we have three or four who can really send anything away."
Brown seemed more the confident squad, with crisper passes and better pace onto the ball, but an onslaught of penalties kept Brown from nearing the tryline. Breaks from Sara Linke, Nikki Schuerch and Korin Tangtrakul kept Brown's defense on its heels, and the Owls nearly crossed the tryline after Tangtrakul streaked down the sideline but then couldn't finish in the offload.
The half ended 0-0, but the scoreboard was dying to light up. The opportunity arrived from a Temple scrum deep in its zone. Temple put on a great drive over the ball - almost too good, as the ball was exposed quickly and allowed Brown to foul up the attempted outlet pass. Skirting along the ground, Brown's Garber kicked the ball ahead in hopes of running onto it, but it landed right in the arms of Linke.
"It was an exciting, heart-wrenching, turn-my-hair-grey try," Jones reflected. "When we saw that ball go in the air to Sara, we thought: As long as she catches it, we know she's going in."
And that's precisely what she did. She motored about 70 meters to dot down in the corner, and Bandura made a great sideline conversion for the 7-0 lead.
Brown battled on to the final moments, ending the game nearly stealing a Temple scrum on the goal line, but instead watching the clearing kick to touch signal the end of the game.
"It feels incredible," Bandura said after the win. "We came in as the underdog and to come away with one win gives us such a confidence boost. It's so exciting."
"We knew that no matter what the results were that we'd play on Sunday, but we're still fighting for a good seed like everyone else here," Jones said. "We want to put our best foot forward and we did that.
"It would be great to get another victory, but it's all about progressing," Jones added. "We caught a lot more of our balls, on kickoffs as well, decisionmaking on whether to pass or go into contact was better - and as long as they're getting better as players, the win/loss isn't as important."
It was a peak performance for Temple, which went on to lose to UVA 27-0 in the final round. Brown went on to beat Penn State 12-10, meaning anything's possible in the world of 7s.