The Stampede returned to the wood courts of the Houston Cougar Recreation Center today looking to improve upon their 1-1 record. The first match had Texas paired against in state competition North Texas Cowboys. The Cowboys looking for their first win of the tourney featured 2 former athletes who played for Texas, Andy Burton and Shane Crider. The duo had left in 2010 to join a new Dallas side and this team was the fruit of their labors.
The Stampede bolstered by the picking and grinning of Jeff "Probie" Butler would start Symons Waker Curtis and Butler against the metroplex team. "We had planned to go with a different line" said coach James Gumbert "but this was a unique chance to challenge one of our young players and we took it". Ben "the lineman" Waker got his first start of the tourney and had some great moments on the D side of the ball. "He did everything we asked of him" said Gumbert.
Both sides exchanged goals and a few early miscues from the Stampede offense saw Texas slip to a 2 point deficit. "we were really hurting ourselves" said Gumbert. Burton and Krider stepped up their defense and put big pressure on Mason Symons. The end result saw the Stampede stumble to a 4 goal deficit at the quarter.
Looking for a change the Stampede came out with a line of Meredith Curtis Garcia and Butler. "It was by no means our best line but we had to regroup and get everyone on the same page" quipped Gumbert. Getting everyone on the same page proved a time consuming challenge and the team would end the half down by seven.
Many teams at this point would pack it in and be grateful that some young players were going to see time. "We elected to try and start at 0-0 and win each line and quarter" said Gumbert. The move would prove to be just the answer needed. A great 3rd quarter highlighted by great role play of Curtis and Garcia and Butler brought the match to within 3 at the end of 3.
The boys from Texas sensing a comeback flipped the tables on former teammates Crider and Burton and forced them to have some critical turnovers. With 3:28 in the fourth the boys in burnt orange pulled the match to even. The Stampede took advantage of an errant pass and recovered it and went in for the score. Managing the clock and using a strong key defense at the end proved too much for the Cowboys and the Stampede win a thriller 43-40.
"You can't measure heart on the court but if you could you would have seen that was a big difference in the end" said Gumbert.
The afternoon matinée was a rematch between Houston and the Stampede. Both sides were looking for a win to propel them in to Sunday's finals. Texas led behind Symons, Meredith, Garcia and Butler would square off in a match that was tight off the tip. "We knew we would have to play flawless ball" said Gumbert "we knew our D would work if we could get to where we needed to be". It wasn't their D however that held them back this time. It was the offense. "We had Butler and Garcia running the rock and as good as they are TIRR eventually caught up with us" said Gumbert.
The Stampede managed to keep the 1st quarter within striking distance 10-12 but could never muster a comeback. "It is a matter of consistency at some point" said Gumbert. "We need to play all 4 quarters not just one". While the game would show a large margin of victory for Houston big steps were seen by Meredith Waker and Curtis as the game progressed. "Everyone got something from the game" said Gumbert. "In a game like this teams and individuals have to find motivations and victories (individual and team) in different ways". " The team did that and never quit fighting". "That is all you can ask for from a young team". Final TIRR 54 Stampede 31.
Texas returns for the final game of the Cougar Cup at 9am tomorrow. Watch www.fearthesteer.com for results and a full wrap up.