by Ali Lee,
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s rugby team finished 1-4 in the 2014 Canada West regular season with their most recent victory, Oct. 4 over UBC, being the only one they needed to book their spot to the conference Final Four. Second-year fly half Jess Neilson has brought her international experience with Canada’s Under-20 team to the table leading the Vikes in scoring all season. Vikes head coach Mark Hall, in his third season, has also added the coaching expertise of Team Canada members Brittany Waters and Julianne Zussman as the Vikes will enter the conference championship ranked No. 4.
The Vikes will kick off against hosts and No. 1 seed the Calgary Dinos, Oct. 17, with the winner going on to play for gold on Oct. 19, and the loser playing in the bronze-medal game.
Calgary climbed to No. 5 in the CIS top-10 rankings after they upset the now No. 3-ranked Alberta Pandas on Oct 5. The Dinos took a 19-15 edge to tie the Pandas with a 3-1 record in the conference. The win, though, gave Calgary the No. 1 spot entering this weekend’s Canada West Final Four.
The Vikes opened their season with a 26-8 loss to the Calgary Dinos in the annual Jenny Vincent Memorial Game at UVic’s Wallace Field. The team then fell 34-5 to the defending CIS Champions, the Alberta Pandas on Sept. 26. In their Sept. 28 match up against the Lethbridge the Vikes lost 24-22 in an exciting battle that set them up to improve to a 22-10 victory over UBC to capture the points they needed to qualify for the post-season.
The new-look 2014 Vikes will look to second-year Vikes Tiffany Picketts, Julia Folk, Nicole Crowley and Sya Trafford, while veterans Alanna Cryer, Caitlin Harvey and Laura Crowe-Hutchon will also be the depth the team needs. The Vikes added 15 rookies to their squad, building for the next wave of the program. Among them are fullback Gurpreet Dhaliwal, flanker Adrienne Saari, centre Angela Thompson, fullback Sheridan Davis and wing Chelsea Palman.
This will be the Vikes’ first appearance in the Canada West post-season since 2011; while the last time they medalled was in 2001 where they finished second. The Vikes will first meet hosts Calgary, Oct. 17, with the winner moving on to play in the gold-medal game on Oct. 19.
The Vikes will play Calgary at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time in Calgary.