Vikes crowned Canada West champions for third consecutive year

With Paige Farries in the driver’s seat, the University of Victoria Vikes pulled into the left lane, stepped on the gas and were never seen from again.

The Vikes handled the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds rather easily, to the tune of 29-0 on Sunday afternoon at Wallace Field in the gold medal game of the UVic 7s tournament.

By going 3-0 through round robin play yesterday, the Vikes clinched their third consecutive Canada West banner. They made it official and capped off their second undefeated season with a win in the semis and gold medal game in front of a strong home crowd.

“It feels great. I’m really proud of our 7s program and it’s great to see the continued success of not only our program, but the growth around the league this year as well,” said Vikes Head Coach Brittany Waters.

In a rematch of the UBC Tournament final, there was a feeling out process for the first few minutes. Then, graduating winger Paige Farries took over for the Vikes.

A pretty passing play started by Shalaya Valenzuela, to Renee Gonzalez, got finished off by Farries down the right sideline.

“We felt like there wasn’t a lot of pressure on us entering this game, so our girls went out, played free and had some fun. It was great to watch,” said Waters.

Moments later, it was the fifth-year Farries at it again from Valenzuela, as she raced down the opposite sideline to put the Vikes ahead 12-0 at half.

“We came out really energized and ready today. The girls were buzzin’ out there,” said Farries. “UBC is such a quality side; they are so much fun to play against. They are a dynamic group of athletes and we definitely brought the energy just by knowing how good UBC is.”

The other graduating player Maddy Aberg made some solid moves before half, but got brought down deep in T-birds territory.

When action resumed, the Thunderbirds were shorthanded, as Rori Wood earned a yellow card at the end of the first half.

Given extra running room, Valenzuela cut across the length of the field before turning up field for her first try on the day.

Relentless tackling by the Vikes snuffed out Thunderbirds drives. Gonzalez body slammed her check near midfield. The massive hit allowed the Vikes to regain possession and takeoff down the field. Once again, it was Farries finding her way past the try line, as she pulled off the hat trick.

“This was definitely a dream ending (to my career), but I was only able to score today because of the great work the rest of my team did stopping UBC and moving the ball up the field. The girls played great today,” said Farries.

With two minutes remaining, Gonzalez put the finishing touches on the scoring frenzy with a try of her own.

The last time the Vikes went undefeated through a Canada West season was in 2018, when they went 18-0.

The Vikes were lucky to appear in the gold medal game, as they trailed by one score late in the semifinals against the University of Alberta Pandas.

Heidi Farley and Savannah Dubien each produced a try, as they staked the Pandas to a 10-5 lead deep into the second half. Both converts were missed, which left the door open for a late comeback by the Vikes.

“It’s always difficult against Alberta. They are a quality side and one of the best in the league during the breakdown. We always play close games against them and I wasn’t surprised to see that the game could have went either way,” said Waters. “But give credit to our team for putting their head down and working the entire game.”

Farries saved the day once again with a try to tie and Maggie MacKinnon split the uprights on the game-winning conversion with time expiring.

“Alberta is also a quality side. They are very physical and have a lot of speed, so they are difficult to prepare for. I think we spent the first bit of the game on our heels and were a little lucky to get away with that one,” said Farries. “It could have easily been them instead of us in the finals.”

Up next for the Vikes with be the National University Rugby 7s on March 20 and 21. The national tournament is not a U SPORTS sanctioned event. The Vikes won the national title in 2017 and 2019. There was no national tournament in 2018.

Semifinal #1
Alberta Pandas (10) vs Victoria Vikes (12)
              1            2            T
ALB        0            10          10
VIC        5            7            12
Scoring summary:
VIC Try – #9 Sasha Guedes (#9 Sasha Guedes convert missed) VIC 5-0
ALB Try – #4 Heidi Farley (#14 Heidi Peake convert missed) TIE 5-5
ALB Try – #6 Savannah Dubien (#14 Heidi Peake convert missed) ALB 10-5
VIC Try – #14 Paige Farries (#4 Maggie MacKinnon convert) VIC 12-10

Gold Medal Game
 UBC Thunderbirds (0) vs Victoria Vikes (29)
              1            2            T
UBC       0            0            0
VIC        12          17          29
Scoring summary:
VIC Try – #14 Paige Farries (#4 Maggie MacKinnon convert) VIC 7-0
VIC Try – #14 Paige Farries (#4 Maggie MacKinnon convert missed) VIC 12-0
VIC Try – #7 Shalaya Valenzuela (#4 Maggie MacKinnon convert) VIC 19-0
VIC Try – #14 Paige Farries (#4 Maggie MacKinnon convert missed) VIC 24-0
VIC Try – #2 Renee Gonzalez (#9 Sasha Guedes convert missed) VIC 29-0

TEAM    ALB Tourney      UBC Tourney     VIC Tourney       TOTAL
VIC                       15                        15                        15                        45
UBC                     8                           12                        12                        32
ALB                      12                        10                        8                           30
LET                       10                        8                           6                           24
CGY                     6                           6                           10                        22
TWU                    4                           4                           4                           12
UFV                     2                           2                           1                           5
UBCO                  1                           1                          2                           4