Before the first senior girls rugby practice of the season at Abbotsford Collegiate, coach Peter Cannon told his players they had the potential to win a provincial championship.
The Panthers made a prophet out of Cannon – twice over.
The Abby Collegiate girls won the B.C. high school sevens title last month, and went on to complete an undefeated season by winning the 15s AA championship on Saturday at North Vancouver’s Klahanie Park.
The Panthers were clearly the class of the field – they out-scored their opponents 192-3, with victories over Valleyview of Kamloops (90-0), Mission’s Heritage Park (60-0) and Brentwood College of Mill Bay (42-3).
“This is an exceptionally focused and committed and talented group of young ladies,” marveled Cannon, who coaches the team along with Stephanie Doan and Matt Myers. “We laid out a game plan to beat Brentwood, and they followed it to perfection. It was just amazing to watch.”
Abby Collegiate saved its best game of the year for the B.C. final, routing a very good Brentwood team. Brentwood boasted more bulk on their roster, but the Panthers used their superior speed to carve them up.
Gurpreet Dhaliwal (3), Junnaya Murphy (2), Tiffany Picketts (2) and Natalie Teteris scored tries in the title game, and Picketts picked up player of the game honours. Lauren Arthur was named to the President’s 15 all-star team.
The last time the Panthers won the B.C. girls rugby crown was 1995.
“17 years later, we got the championship again,” enthused Abby Collegiate co-captain Kayla Van Veld. “We’re really thrilled with everything that happened, and so happy with what we accomplished the entire year.”
BRONZE FOR BATEMAN
The Robert Bateman Timberwolves also climbed the podium at AA provincials, finishing third after beating Heritage Park 32-10 in the third-place game on Saturday.
It was an emotional day for the T-Wolves, who had suffered a bitterly disappointing double-overtime loss to Brentwood in the semifinals. Furthermore, Saturday was the birthday of Cheryl McCormack – the Grade 12 Bateman rugby player died in December after having taken the drug ecstasy.
“She was to be the co-captain of the team this year,” T-Wolves coach Jen Ross said. “So it was a game of mixed emotions for the girls – it was tough dealing with that. But they played for themselves, and they also played in memory of Cheryl.”
Madison Borrows of the T-Wolves was named to the President’s 15, while other Bateman standouts included Lauren Kerr and Kay Olsen.