The second Cup match in Texas' women's DI college unfolded yesterday, and now that Texas A&M has evened the score after a 34-0 win over Texas Tech, a final third game is now necessary. Had A&M lost yesterday's match, then Tech would have locked up Texas' seed to the Western playoffs.
"They were just too big and powerful in the forwards and dominated the rucks, both ours and theirs," Tech coach John Middletown said. "Just when we seemed to cover some ground they would blow over our rucks and steal the ball. We just couldnt stop them."
It was an aspect of Tech's game with which Middleton had been concerned after its loss to New Mexico in a friendly a couple of weeks ago. In the off-season, Tech focused on its fitness and agility, but New Mexico's physicality elucidated a weakness in the team's contact skills.
But it was that focus on fitness that turned around Texas A&M's game. Having lost 6-5 in the first Cup match last fall, A&M had something to prove.
"We've been working really hard to get ourselves in shape, knowing that Tech was going to come at us hard try to end things with this game," A&M president Kelley Storey said. "We've been working hard together and played together on Saturday, and it paid off."
A&M was more consistent with the ball in contact and stabilized possession with solid rucking. The team was also prepared for Tech's kicking game, which hurt the home team in the squad's first match-up.
Fullback Jo Hargrove accounted for the backs' two tries, while No. 8 Caitlin Robinson added five points from a quick tap penalty, and prop Nick James barreled over the line for two tries. Wing Amanda Mikeska converted three tries.
"It was definitely a team effort from the first kickoff to the final whistle," Storey said. "We rucked, tackled, passed and kicked better than we did in November, and that's why we were able to come out and win."
The win was doubly impressive, as the team recently lost head coach Jimmy Schreiner to relocation. Captain James has assumed many of the coaching responsibilities, and forwards coach Jessi Halligan, who has been with the team several years is still working with the team. A&M is also receiving help from alum Lenae Boykin.
This weekend, the two Texas team will face off in the final Cup match, will send one team to West playoffs and the other into friendly season.