Quins Keep Heads Up at National Championship

The Pittsburgh Harlequins may not have defeated their opponents Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco for the National Championship but they showed the crowd, and especially themselves, that they were not a fluke to have been invited.

Woodland Exiles

The Quins first game on the weekend had them against the Woodland Exiles, a team that would go on to win all of their games Saturday.  The first four minutes of the Harlequins first appearance in the Seven’s National Championship had them inside their opponents 22-meter line, with the highly favored Exiles scrambling to keep the Harlequins out of their try-zone.

Perhaps it was the prolonged offensive assault, or perhaps their nerves go the better of them, but a quick intercept led to a 70 meter try by the Exiles- followed quickly by another.  A third try just at the half left the score 19-0.  The Harlequins threw everything they had at the team from Houston, including some gutsy kicking, to no avail.  The Exiles had no less than 3 breakaway’s that should have come away bearing points had not the Harlequins chased down every break- defense in this aspect was second to none in the tournament.   With 3 minutes left in the game, Anthony D’Antonio found himself with some open green and made a dash to the 50, where he offloaded during the tackle to Justin Heinle (California University of Pennsylvania)- who showed throughout the weekend that if you gave him a look at the goal you would NOT catch him.  The unconverted try was too little too late, but the Quins had a National Championship match under their belts in which to be proud.  Final 19-5.

Atlanta Old White

The Second match for the Quins Saturday at Treasure Island had them pitted against an East Coast team with no shortage of National Championship experience.  The team from Atlanta came out of the gate big and fast, and showed why the sport is bound to be a favorite at the upcoming Olympic games.  The First half was completely dominated by Atlanta, scoring 33 points and looking poised to score at will throughout.

Halftime gave the Quins an opportunity to make some strategic substitutes for fresh legs, and the Pittsburgh defensive focus shut down every opportunity for Atlanta to gain ground. with four minutes to go Ben Paul (University of Pittsburgh) collected a free ball close to tryline, crossed the field picking up twenty yards, lined up a defensive player and showed an aggressive and powerful running style.  Creating a gap, he offloaded to Vals who was already at full pace-  70 meters later Heinle trotted across the line for the Quins only score of the game, uncontested.  Final 38-7

Middlesex

With little to lose and still feeling the sting of the loss to Old White- The Harlequins came out fast and furious against a rather flat-footed opponent- with Justin Heinle getting his third of the day.  Middlesex got the cobwebs out and showed why they were in Sanfrancisco; collecting two unforced handling errors by the Quins into long breakaway scoring runs.

The firsthalf, which had the growing crowd of Pittsburgh Supporters cheering up and down the sidelines, gave way to a second half frought with tough mistakes by the Quins.  Middlesex was no longer flatfooted, having been rudely awakened by the underdogs, and went on to show their athleticism and skills, thwarting a steady barrage of offense by the Harlequins late into the day.  Final 17-7

(Sunday)  Denver Barbarians

With the fog hanging entirely around the SFGG facility, the Quins took the field for the final time this weekend against perennial powerhouse Denver Barbarians.   Two very quick goals by Nick Koon and Justin Heinle had everyone on their feet cheering the young Harlequin Squad.  Denver Rallied and capitalized on passing errors by the Quins, and tied the score.  A beautiful break at midfield by Heinle near the half would have giving him a second in the Match, but the bounce didn’t quite go his way as he chased it into the tryzone.

The score stood even at the half, but the Barbarians came out fresh and relaxed in the second half, and patiently waited for any opportunity to capitalize on a mistake.  To their extreme credit, not a single Harlequin player let up the pressure as the Barbarians slowly pulled away.

The Quins were clapped off the field by all of the waiting teams in the team tent area.  Tough to come away without a win, but leaving no doubt that they should plan on leaving a spot open next year for the Pittsburgh Harlequins at the National Championship- we’ll be there.

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