Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2018 women’s rugby major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference’s four head coaches following the regular season.

Third-year Axewomen flanker Laura Pfleiderer has been named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player, marking the first time an Acadia player has earned the conference’s top honour since the 2013 season.

UPEI Panthers flanker Brinten Comeau of Halifax, N.S., has been named the AUS rookie of the year.

This year’s recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award is Acadia’s Tomi McCarthy of Barrington, N.S.

And in his 20th season at the helm of the X-Women program, Coach Mike Cavanagh has been named the AUS coach of the year for the 11th time in his career.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Laura Pfleiderer, Acadia Axewomen

Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby’s 2018 most valuable player is Laura Pfleiderer of the AUS No. 2 and U SPORTS No. 7-ranked Acadia Axewomen.

A third-year science student from Williams Lake, B.C., Pfleiderer led the Axewomen to a 4-2 regular season finish and second place in the conference standings.

In five games played this regular season, she scored four tries and added a conversion for 22 points on the season.

Pfleiderer has been an impact player since her freshmen season with the Axewomen in 2016 when she scored three tries and added seven conversions for a 29-point freshman season.

Last season, she was Acadia’s scoring leader with 56 points coming from six tries and 13 conversions.

In three seasons with Acadia, she is already 22nd in AUS career all-time scoring, and fourth in Acadia school history with 107 points scored.

In addition to being named AUS MVP, Pfleiderer was also named to the AUS all-star team today for the first time in her AUS career.

Her MVP win marks the first time an Acadia player has earned the conference’s top honour since 2013, when former Axewomen standout Emilie Chiasson took home the award.

Axewomen alumna Andrea Burk is the only other Acadia player to ever be named AUS MVP. She earned the honour in back-to-back seasons in 2004 and 2005.

Pfleiderer now becomes this year’s AUS nominee for the U SPORTS most valuable player award.

Former StFX X-Women standout Ghislaine Landry is the only AUS student-athlete to have ever won the national award. She earned the accolade in 2008 and 2007.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Brinten Comeau, UPEI Panthers

UPEI Panthers flanker Brinten Comeau has been named the 2018 AUS Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby rookie of the year.

A first-year arts student from Halifax, N.S., Comeau played in all six regular season games and the AUS semifinal for the Panthers this season.

In her inaugural AUS season, she was UPEI’s leading scorer with six tries for 30 points on the season.

She was also named to AUS all-start team today.

Prior to joining the Panthers, Comeau served as team captain of the Charles P. Allen High School team for two seasons.

This marks just the third time a player from the UPEI Panthers has been chosen as the AUS rookie of the year. Current Panthers centre Anneke Dykerman earned the rookie of the year award in 2015 and former UPEI standout Ashley MacDonald won the honour in 2004.

Comeau now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the U SPORTS rookie of the year award.

The most recent AUS player to earn the national honour was StFX’s Ghislaine Landry. She took home the award in 2006.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Cavanagh, StFX

For the 11th time in his 20-year career as the head coach of the StFX X-Women program, Mike Cavanagh has been chosen by his peers as the Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby coach of the year.

Cavanagh has previously won the award in 2017, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2002 and 2001. He was also named CIS (now U SPORTS) coach of the year in both 2012 and 2001.

This season, Cavanagh guided the U SPORTS No. 4-ranked and defending AUS champion X-Women to a 6-0 record and their 16th first-place finish since the 2002 season.


His undefeated 2018 StFX squad allowed the fewest points against in six regular season games this year with 59.

Since 2002, Cavanagh’s career record now stands at 99-3-2 in AUS regular season play. His overall record since 2002, including AUS playoff and CIS/U SPORTS championship contests, is now 147-32-5 heading into tomorrow’s championship final.

He has guided the X-Women to 18 AUS championship titles, five national championship titles, and 20 consecutive national championship appearances.

Cavanagh is one of only two AUS head coaches to be named the national coach of the year, earning the honour in both 2001 and 2012.


Acadia Axewomen head coach Matt Durant is the most recent Atlantic conference coach to win the national award. He took home the honour in 2013.


The 2018 student-athlete community service award recipient is Tomi McCarthy of the Acadia Axewomen.

A third-year arts student from Barrington, N.S., McCarthy played at prop for the Axewomen in their second game of the season Sept. 16 at Saint Mary’s which they won by a commanding score of 77-17.

McCarthy is heavily involved in the community, volunteering her time with several causes. She is the coordinator for the youth outreach program Rec Buddies. This program helps guide at-risk youth in the Annapolis Valley area to make positive and constructive decisions and to embrace leadership roles they can take on to help other youth in the community.

McCarthy is a leader and program organizer for Acadia’s S.M.I.L.E. program (Sensory Motor Instructional Learning Experience), working with children with autism to develop motor, cognitive and social learning skills.

She helps organize and run the Girls Night Out program within the Wolfville community where young girls are paired with female student-athletes from Acadia who serve as role models. She is also involved in the Rookie Rugby initiative, working with Rugby Nova Scotia to introduce youth to the sport of rugby in a fun, face and engaging environment.

McCarthy is just the second player from the Axewomen to be honoured with this award since its inception in 2009. Acadia alumna Kelsey Brumm first took home the honour in 2016.

McCarthy now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the national award.

Brumm is the most recent AUS student-athlete to earn the national honour, which she claimed in 2016.

The following players have been named to the 2018 Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby all-star team:

Front Row/Prop: Valerie Wideski, Acadia (1st year – Richmond, B.C.)

Front Row/Prop: Joanna Alphonso, StFX (5th year – Ajax, Ont.)

Front Row/Hooker: Sarah Boudreau, Acadia (4th year – Middle Sackville, N.S.)

Second row/Lock: Taryn McLachlan, Acadia (2nd year – Batawa, Ont.)

Second row/Lock: Lauren Sheidow, UPEI (5th year – Summerside, P.E.I.)

Back row/Flanker: Laura Pfleiderer, Acadia (3rd year – Williams Lake, N.S.)

Back row/Flanker: Brinten Comeau, UPEI 1st year – Halifax, N.S.)

Back row/#8: Olivia DeMerchant, StFX (5th year – Bedell, N.B.)

Scrum Half: Alison Blanchard, StFX (5th year – Herring Cove, N.S.)

Fly Half/Stand Off: Gillian Bergsma, Acadia (5th year – Delhi, Ont.)

Center: Alysha Corrigan, Acadia (5th year – Charlottetown, P.E.I.)

Center: Sarah Hoerig, StFX (2nd year – Whitby, Ont.)

Winger: Monique Coffey, Acadia (3rd year – Ethelbert, Man.)

Winger: Carleigh Walters, StFX (3rd year – Williams Lake, B.C.)

Fullback: Elish Redshaw, Saint Mary’s (2nd year – Point Edward, N.S.)