The University of Victoria Vikes’ up-and-down season ended on the upside four time zones away from home.
The Vikes, who entered this weekend’s U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship with a modest 4-3 record, defeated the Queen’s Gaels 24-15 in the consolation final Sunday afternoon on windswept Raymond Field. The victory secured fifth place for the Vancouver Island school in the eight-team tournament.
“This was a great way to end a tough season that didn’t start very well,” noted Victoria’s lock Zoe Goodwin-Sutton, who tallied two tries and tackled with a fiery assuredness en route to earning Player of the Game kudos. “We played with a lot of heart.”
The Vikes, who lost two of their opening three games this season, didn’t mind being the perceived underdog against the Gaels (4-2 coming into the tournament), hoping by chance they might be taken lightly by the Gaels. Which may well have been the case.
“We didn’t come out the way we should have against that team,” remarked Queen’s fourth-year prop Pippi McKay, selected the Gaels’ Player of the Game. “I don’t want to say that we emptied the tank against (consolation semifinal opponent) Calgary, because every team here has had difficult games, but at the same time we needed to match Victoria’s level of intensity, especially in the first half.”
Goodwin-Sutton said the Vikes used their underdog role as motivation.
“We hoped they’d underestimate us a bit,” said the third-year player from Ottawa, who scored a pair of tries in the contest.
Maddy Aberg notched the other try for the Vikes and engineered one of Goodwin-Sutton’s tries. She also added three converts and a penalty – the latter kick, a dead-centre boot from 24 metres out late in the match, cemented the triumph.
Sofie Kennedy, Nadia Popov and Bridget Peros registered unconverted tries for the Gaels, who trailed 14-5 at halftime.
Vikes head coach Brittany Waters was impressed with her team’s performance this season, in what would be somewhat of a rebuilding campaign.
“Losing eight starters from last year’s team, getting off to a slow start, it was a very interesting season,” she said. “But this team never quit. The girls rallied and came together as a team.”
Despite the nine-point lead advantage at the break, Waters said she implored her troops to be more defensively sound in the second half.
“We knew we had to be better defensively, and we were better, especially our back row.”
VIC 14-10: 24
QNS 5-10: 15
QUE – Nadia Popov try 47th
VIC – Maddy Aberg try (Aberg convert) 58th
QUE – Bridget Peros 62ns
VIC –Aberg (penalty goa) 81st
Players of the game
VIC: Maddy Aberg
QUE: Pippi McKay