Women’s rugby does Concordia proud

The Stingers women’s rugby team showed up to London with a cemented underdog status. They left the nationals without a title but with an earned respect that came from three hard fought games and a 1-2 record in the CIS national championships. Game 1 vs Guelph The Guelph Gryphons got an early scare but were able to emerge from a battle against the Stingers with a 24-12 victory.

The Stingers women’s rugby team showed up to London with a cemented underdog status. They left the nationals without a title but with an earned respect that came from three hard fought games and a 1-2 record in the CIS national championships.

Game 1 vs Guelph

The Guelph Gryphons got an early scare but were able to emerge from a battle against the Stingers with a 24-12 victory.
Playing in the round robin stage of the CIS national championships, the scrappy Stingers showed they belonged with the other top rugby teams in the country. After an early try scored by the Gryphons, the ConU attack woke up and pushed as a unit deep into the opposition’s territory.
Within ten yards of the Guelph goalline the Stingers gained possession off a scrum and launched a lineout to the left side, where Patricia Lapierre flipped the ball to Kim Whitty for the tying score. Lapierre then made the convert to give her team a slim two-point advantage.
While superior in size, the Guelph players were frustrated by a Stingers team that rejected all of their attacks and forced them play defensive rugby. With the score 7-5 Concordia kicked a perfect ball deep and over the head of the Guelph defender. The ball was eventually repossessed by Guelph’s Jaycee Murphy. Murphy tried to kick the ball out of her team’s zone but was denied by Sydney Theriault when she leapt up and blocked the clearing attempt.
The Stingers controlled both the pace of the game and the Gryphons offence for much of the first half. Any offensive push by Guelph would end in a dropped pass or a missed assignment that gave possession to the Stingers, who promptly kicked it deep into the Gryphons territory where they had to start all over again. The tenacious Concordia offense nearly scored again in the closing minutes of the half as a Stingers scrum overpowered the opposition and marched the ball twenty yards to within a few inches of the goal. The Gryphons would gain possession though, ending the half.
The highlight of the game came early following halftime. Jennifer Rosenbaum scored a big try for her team when she got the ball in open space and began running down the right side of the field. Before a Guelph defender could tackle her Rosenbaum punted the ball perfectly forward and caught up with it as it bounced past the last line of defenders. With the entire Guelph team running to catch up with her Rosenbaum, a former soccer player, calmly booted the ball a few metres past the goal line and fell on it for the score.
Staring at a 12-5 deficit, the Gryphons dug in and produced a trio of unanswered tries with two converts in the final twenty minutes of the game.
“We had great momentum going throughout the first half,” said Rosenbaum, who was named the player of the game. “They were on their heels and we were taking advantage of them. In the second half they came back really strong and we had trouble handling the pressure.”

Game 2 vs. St. FX

Only an hour after their game against the Gryphons. Concordia pulled a tough assignment when they played against the CIS defending champions St. Francis Xavier X-Women. The Stingers opened the game by committing a mistake when on the kickoff a Stingers player let the ball bounce off her shoulder right to the X-Women, who took possession and held it for the first ten minutes of the match.
The X-women, who had beaten the Gryphons 15-0 earlier in the day, showed flashes of the explosive offence that won them a national title in 2006. However the Stingers played determined and gritty defence and did not relinquish any points from the pressure that St. FX put on them early in the game.
The underdog Stingers provided a surprise of their own when they put up the first points of the match. Midway through the first half Robin Hunter stole the ball away from the X-Women and scampered twenty yards to put the opportunistic Stingers up 5-0.
“Concordia came out and played very tough the first half,” said St. FX head coach Mike Cavanagh. “They played very well defensively and gave us all kinds of trouble.”
The second half saw a terrific try scored by W-Woman Courtney Malcolm. After her team closed a long possession with a try on a tired Stingers squad, Malcolm caught the ball near midfield and made a few great cuts on Concordia’s defenders on the way to a fifty-yard strike and a made conversion to put her team up for good 14-5.

Game 3 vs Waterloo

The Stingers got their first victory of the tournament on Saturday when they beat the Ontario University Athletics finalists the Waterloo Warriors 17-5 in the fifth place game.
Concordia came out firing right from kickoff, drawing first blood five minutes into the game off of a try from Larissa Andrusyshyn. Andrusychyn found daylight coming out of a twenty yard scrum drive and dove over the goal line for the score.
The gritty play that Concordia used to nearly beat both Guelph and St. FX continued through to this game. The Stingers’ defenders made strong open field tackles and forced the Warriors to commit a number of turnovers in their own territory. On a push by Waterloo the Stingers showed more tough play on defense as they turned back the attack and put up a drive of their own.
After coming within inches of scoring another try Concordia was given a scrum five yards away from the Waterloo goal. A renewed physical presence by the Stingers succeeded in overpowering the Waterloo defence, allowing Andrusyshyn to fall across the goal, taking the ball and four Warrior defenders along with her as she put her team up by ten points.
Stingers flanker Vannessa Ng would score another try, getting both her first try of the year and her team’s last try of the season.
Although they did not advance out of the round-robin stage, Concordia showed that they belonged in the tournament, playing two hard fought losses against perennial contenders such as Guelph and St. FX.
“Overall we’ve really stepped it up,” said Stingers captain and 2007 CIS All-Canadian Sydney Theriault. “This is the level of rugby we want to be playing at and it speaks of the talent on this team and just how far we’ve come together as a team.”

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