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When Concordia’s women’s rugby team won their Quebec final last week against Laval they were happy- but not satisfied. The only way the squad was going to be satisfied was if they had a medal around their necks at Nationals. Sunday at Trent University, the Stingers accomplished that goal- although it was not the colour they had hoped for.
The snow couldn’t stop Concordia as they started the tournament with an impressive win 32-3 over the Queen’s University Golden Gaels. Stinger star Jackie Tittley led the scoring with 12 points coming from three converts and two penalty kicks. Erika Hamilton, Jessie Lapointe and rookie Cara Stuckey all put points on the board.
Although the backs were racking up the points, most of the play stayed within the forwards. Snow and messy conditions offer too many chances for dropped balls and so the Stingers were playing it safe.
The Stingers won the game easily against the battered Golden Gaels, who had played powerhouse University of Lethbridge the day before. The Stingers moved on the face four-time consecutive champions Lethbridge the next day.
Going into Nationals everyone knew that the Lethbridge Pronghorns were the team to beat. That’s exactly what the underdog Stingers did on Saturday in a 19-12 upset. What was especially surprising is that Quebec MVP Tittley was out of the game with an undisclosed illness. Prop Solange De Blois stepped up to score the first try of the game off a five-metre maul but the Pronghorns responded late in the half with their own try.
Lethbridge would take the lead early in the second putting pressure on Concordia to play for their lives. On their patented play the Stingers repeated the five-metre maul, this time captain Claire Hortop was the one to put the ball down. Hamilton converted the try and Concordia drew closer to knocking off the champs. With no time left the Stingers put the nails in the coffin when De Blois added her second try of the game. Hamilton’s convert finished off the scoring and the University of Lethbridge’s chance at a record five consecutive championship.
So the Stingers were off to the finals for the first time in the team’s history. They were assured a medal; the only question was whether it would be gold or silver.
Concordia’s opponent in the final was Atlantic champion St. Francis-Xavier University from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The X-women have appeared at Nationals since the tournament was instituted 13 years ago, but have only won one title. Concordia’s most recent appearance at Nationals was last year where they placed fourth.
The game was hotly contested and was only decided in sudden death overtime.
The X-women opened the scoring putting up a try and a conversion to make it 7-0. Starting hooker Sara Scanlon pushed over the line to catch Concordia up, but the kick for added points sailed wide. Concordia came out of the half with all pistons firing and like déjà vu Lisa Hoffman scored off a five-metre maul. The Stingers kept the pressure on and had every opportunity to widen their lead. Every time they seemed to bounce off the St. FX huge pack and failed to touch the ball down. The X-women wore the Stingers down and took advantage of Concordia’s weariness. The patient X-women inevitably scored when Asya Bartley tied it up at 12.
For almost the entirety of the ten-minute sudden death overtime, the X-women were at Concordia’s doorstep. The Stingers had to make try-saving tackle after try-saving tackle to keep St. FX out of the zone. When it seemed like Concordia had worn the clock down, St. FX’s Olivia DeMarchant barged through the forward pack to secure the championship and hand Concordia their first loss of the season.
Although the Stingers finished short, they accomplished what they set out to do. The Concordia comes home with silver medals around their necks after a nail-biter ending to their near-perfect season.