Abby, Yale, Bateman claim medals at provincial girls rugby championships

The Abbotsford Panthers finished with AA silver, Yale claimed bronze in the AAA championships and Robert Bateman won silver in Tier 2.

A Yale Panther fights through a tackle during the squad's 29-0 victory over Semiahmoo Saturday at the provincial AAA girls rugby championships.

A Yale Panther fights through a tackle during the squad's 29-0 victory over Semiahmoo Saturday at the provincial AAA girls rugby championships.

The Yale Lions, Abbotsford Panthers  and Robert Bateman Timberwolves all claimed podium positions at the provincial girls rugby championships this weekend in North Vancouver.

The Abbotsford Panthers came up just short in their quest to retain the AA provincial championship crown, following 27-10 to top-ranked Brentwood College in the final.

The Panthers entered the game having won three straight AA provincials, and the loss was only Abby’s second in four years.

Co-coach Peter Cannon paid tribute to Brentwood College, whom he said earned their win.

“Give them full credit for playing very, very well.”

The Panthers entered the game hoping to retain possession and drive the ball downfield through the forwards. But while Abbotsford moved the ball to within five yards of the scoring area several times, the Brentwood defence held strong. And when the ball went wide, their backs took advantage of their speed, with Roy scoring three tries.“I am very, very proud of our girls,” Cannon said. “They could hold their heads up and not feel that they lost the game, but the other team won it.”

Nakisa Levale and Paige Pedersen scored tries for the Panthers, and Levale was also named to the Presidents 15 team.

“It would have been nice if we could have made it four [in a row], but three in a row plus second isn’t that bad either,” Cannon said.

Yale’s AAA Fraser Valley championship-winning squad claimed bronze after falling in the semifinal 17-15 to Carson Graham from Vancouver. The Lions rebounded in the third-place game with a 27-0 demolition of Semiahmoo.

With gold the goal for Yale, team manager Marisa Meola said the semifinal was a disappointment, with several controversial decisions and a late Yale drive deep into Carson Graham territory that failed to result in points.

But the final saw redemption, with Kyla Knox, Mackenzie Carson, Anna Lowrey and Emily Pollastretti all scoring tries and Sapna Deo adding two converts and a penalty kick.

Pollastretti was also named the Lions’ representative on the Presidents 15 slate of the tournament’s best players. Sydney Stoltz, Shalaya Valenzuela, Alex Motoc, Alice Ned and Sarah Klok also had big games for the Lions.

“What stands for me is the quality of leadership that our senior girls show,” head coach Larry Colby said. “They will be missed. The abundance of talent from our younger players gives us a very bright future ahead.”

Meola added: “We are a big family both on and off the field. The girls work hard and we have all gotten to know each other well.”

And the Robert Bateman Timberwolves grabbed a silver medal in the Tier 2 competition with a 22-10 victory over Clayton Heights. It was an emotional game for the senior players, whose club rugby teammate Chantal McLean died in a car crash in the fall.

Kadeja White led the Wolves with nine tries in three games and their starting lineup featured seven Grade 9 players in their first year of senior rugby.