“The girls showed a lot of character throughout the tournament and played some of the best rugby we’ve seen UVic play. It wasn’t the result we wanted in terms of scores or seeding but as far as building our identity and the kind of team we want to be, our experience was successful,” said Vikes head coach Brittany Waters.
Both teams had already qualified for the national championships hosted in Victoria, with the Vikes serving as the hosts and the Dinos as the conference winners. This will be the Dinos’ first appearance on the national stage since the program’s inception in 2009.
“Having two great games under our belt from this weekend and showing that we can fight for 80 minutes will be key for facing our quarter-final opponent. This next week will be crucial though for improving on what let us down today so we can put in our best performance at nationals,” said Waters
The Dinos went a perfect 4-0 during conference play and beat the Lethbridge Pronghorns 50-12 in Friday’s semifinal to get to the Championship game.
A tentative start from both teams, with mistakes stopping early momentum by both teams, but the top seeded Dinos would be the first to strike, Vanessa Graham would put the Dinos on the board and with Elysa Sandron‘s convert the Dinos held an early 7-0 lead, 10 minutes into the contest.
Vikes looked to answer, methodically moving the call down the field and getting into the end zone but the unrelenting Dino defense held the ball up. Off the ensuing sequence, the Dinos were able to steal the ball off a ruck and kick the ball down field to relive the Vikes pressure.
Four-time Canada West All-Star Emily Tuttosi picked up the Dinos’ second try of the half before Sandron scored a try of her own in the 36th minute to give the Dinos a 17-0 half time lead.
Out of the break, the Vikes had some good early pressure but miscues by the Vikes stalled any momentum the Vikes would build. The Dinos dominance in the scrums and rucks also pushed the Vikes back.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Vikes pressure was finally rewarded. Madeleine Graham broke three tackles and sprinted to touch the ball directly under the uprights and Jess Nielson hit the convert to cut the Dinos lead to 17-7.
The Dinos would answer right back with dual-sport athlete Temitope Ogunjimi intercepting a pass, stiff arming the first defender and racing away from the back to score her first try and extended the Dino lead to 22-7.
Ogunjimi was a dominant force in Friday’s semifinal scoring five first half tries versus the Lethbridge Pronghorns.
Again the Vikes were not going to relinquish their crown without a fight, pushing the Dinos deep into their own end, but the Dinos defense held strong, holding the ball up in the end zone for a second time, forcing a five metre scrum.
Off the scrum, the Vikes were able to punch the ball in with Dakota Weir touching the ball down for the try and Nielson hit the convert to cut the Dino lead to eight points (22-14).
It was now Calgary’s turn to respond and they would do just that. The Dinos grinded the ball down the field and 2016 Canada West MVP DeLeaka Menin pushed the ball over to extend the Dinos lead to 29-14 with Sandron’s convert with eight minutes to play.
The Dinos were able to hold off the Vikes for the remaining eight minutes to capture their first Canada West title in program history.
“Calgary has had a great season and put in a very strong performance today. They executed their game plan well and took their opportunities when they came,” said Waters.
The national championship begins on Nov. 4 and runs until Nov. 6 in Victoria, B.C.
“All of the all-stars have contributed to the team in meaningful ways and have been consistent performers. We also have a number of girls who weren’t formally recognized but have had amazing performances. The great thing about this team is we have talent across the board and anyone can be an all-star on a given day,” said Waters.
2016 CANADA WEST ALL-STAR TEAM
POSITION / NAME / UNIVERSITY / ELIGIBILITY / HOMETOWN / PROGRAM
Prop / DeLeaka Menin / University of Calgary / 4th / Vulcan, Alta. / Arts
Prop / Chelsey Minter / University of Victoria / 5th / Victoria, B.C. / Humanities
Hooker / Emily Tuttosi / University of Calgary / 4th / Souris, Man. / Kinesiology
Lock / Sara Haring / University of Alberta / 5th / Sturgeon County, Alta. / Education
Lock / Kasselle Menin / University of Calgary / 2nd / Vulcan, Alta. / Arts
Back Row / Gillian Boag / University of British Columbia / 4th / Calgary, Alta. / Applied Science
Back Row / Julia Folk / University of Victoria / 3rd / Regina, Sask. / Science
Back Row / Temi Ogunjimi / University of Calgary / 4th / Calgary, Alta. / Arts
Scrum Half / Amanda Smith / University of Alberta / 5th / Sherwood Park, Alta. / Education
Fly Half / Jess Neilson / University of Victoria / 3rd / North Vancouver, B.C. / Social Sciences
Centers / Nicole Ronsky / University of Lethbridge / 5th / Calgary, Alta. / Management
Centers / Mackenzie Lee / University of British Columbia / 4th / Langley, B.C. / Arts
Back Three / Madeleine Graham / University of Victoria / 3rd / Edmonton, Alta. / Science
Back Three / Savannah Dubien / Univ. of Alberta / 2nd / Edmonton, Alta. / Campus St. Jean
Back Three / Elysa Sandron / University of Calgary / 3rd / Winnipeg, Man. / Science