Cascades Women’s Rugby Squad Finishes Sixth At Home Tourney

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s rugby sevens club posted a sixth-place finish at their home tournament, the second stop of the Canada West Sevens Series.

The Cascades won their opener 17-0 over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday, only to lose their next five games against Lethbridge (31-5), Alberta (39-19), Victoria (61-0), UBC (50-0) and Calgary (45-0).

Injuries were the primary reason for the Cascades’ struggles as the tourney wore on. Head coach Jen Ross‘s squad was already short three starters due to injury coming into the tournament, then lost a key playmaker in Mackenzie Fowler in their second game vs. Lethbridge.

In spite of that adversity, there were positive signs for the UFV program. Not only did they shut out UBCO, they held a 19-15 lead on Alberta early in the second half before running out of gas down the stretch.

“Losing Mackenzie was tough for us because she’s our playmaker, and it puts a lot of pressure on the other girls to step up,” Ross noted. “It always comes back to having depth on the bench, and experience.

“It’s a tough go when you lose a couple of starters, but when you’re missing five, we lost our flow. It’s super-frustrating for the girls, because they know we are competitive (when healthy), and when we’re not able to compete like we can, it’s hard to keep the momentum going.”

Sophia Belsher paced the Cascades with four tries on the weekend, while Shalaya Valenzuela had two and Melissa Jongedijk scored one.

The Victoria Vikes went a perfect 6-0 to win the tournament, wrapping up their victorious run with wins over Lethbridge (22-10), Calgary (28-0) and UBC Okanagan (24-7) on Sunday at Exhibition Park.

The UBC Thunderbirds (5-1-0), coming off a tourney win two weeks ago in Edmonton, locked up second place in Abbotsford in dramatic fashion, edging the Lethbridge Pronghorns 15-10 on Delaney Aikens’s try just before the final whistle. The result enabled the T-Birds to hold onto first place in the overall standings with 27 points, just ahead of UVic (25).

The Pronghorns and Calgary Dinos finished with matching 3-2-1 records, but Lethbridge finished third based on point differential. The Alberta Pandas (2-4-0), Cascades (1-5-0) and UBC Okanagan Heat (0-6-0) finished fifth through seventh, respectively.

Along with Victoria’s dominance, the weather was a significant storyline on Sunday. After relatively mild temperatures and periodic sun on Saturday, Day 2 featured a rare snowfall in Abbotsford with gusting wind. Temperatures were in the neighbourhood of -5 C, with wind chill to -15 C.

“It’s a true testament to the rugby spirit,” Ross said, lauding the players’ perseverance under the conditions.

The Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series concludes with Tournament No. 3, March 2-3 at UBC.

The Cascades’ game-by-game scoring summaries, tourney standings, and overall series standings are below.

Saturday results

UFV Cascades 17, UBC Okanagan Heat 0
Scoring summary:
UFV: 12-5: 17
UBCO: 0-0: 0
• UFV try – #11 Melissa Jongedijk (#2 Mackenzie Fowler convert) – 7-0
• UFV try – #14 Sophia Belsher (convert missed) – 12-0
Half
• UFV try – #14 Sophia Belsher (convert missed) – 17-0

Lethbridge Pronghorns 31, UFV Cascades 5
Scoring summary:
LET: 17-14: 31
UFV: 0-5: 5
• LET try – #1 Sara Cline (convert missed) – 5-0
• LET try – #7 Hailey Driscoll (#5 Caitlin Sears convert) – 12-0
• LET try – #11 Eden Hoff (convert missed) – 17-0
Half
• LET try – #9 Abby Neudorf (#9 Abby Neudorf convert) – 24-0
• UFV try – #14 Sophia Belsher (convert missed) – 24-5
• LET try – #11 Eden Hoff (#10 Jillian Tataryn convert) – 31-5

Alberta Pandas 39, UFV Cascades 19
Scoring summary:
ALB: 15-24: 39
UFV: 12-7: 19
• UFV try – #14 Sophia Belsher (convert missed) – 5-0
• ALB try – #8 Courtney Holtkamp (convert missed) – 5-5
• ALB try – #8 Courtney Holtkamp (convert missed) – 10-5
• ALB try – #14 Lora Lee (convert missed) – 15-5
• UFV try – #5 Shalaya Valenzuela (#14 Sophia Belsher convert) – 15-12
Half
• UFV try – #5 Shalaya Valenzuela (#14 Sophia Belsher convert) – 19-15
• ALB try – #21 Zoe Melnychuk (convert missed) – 20-19
• ALB try – #14 Lora Lee (convert missed) – 25-19
• ALB try – #12 Amara Allarie (#1 Aline Wicklum convert) – 32-19
• ALB try – #10 Heidi Farley (#1 Aline Wicklum convert) – 39-19

Victoria Vikes 61, UFV Cascades 0
Scoring summary:
VIC: 26-35: 61
UFV: 0-0: 0
• VIC try – #12 Maddy Aberg (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 7-0
• VIC try – #8 Callie Harder (convert missed) – 12-0
• VIC try – #6 Tayler Bailey (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 19-0
• VIC try – #9 Linnea Dalvi (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 26-0
Half
• VIC try – #5 Ashah Payson (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 33-0
• VIC try – #6 Tayler Bailey (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 40-0
• VIC try – #9 Linnea Dalvi (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 47-0
• VIC try – #8 Linnea Dalvi (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 54-0
• VIC try – #14 McKenzie Pusch (#15 Alexie Pusch convert) – 61-0

Sunday Results

UBC Thunderbirds 50, UFV Cascades 0
Scoring summary:
UBC: 24-26: 50
UFV: 0-0: 0
• UBC try – #6 Kaitlyn Cumming (#5 Shoshanah Seumanutafa convert) – 7-0
• UBC try – #9 Vivianna Johnson (convert missed) – 12-0
• UBC try – #9 Vivianna Johnson (convert missed) – 17-0
• UBC try – #11 Madison Blusson (#5 Shoshanah Seumanutafa convert) – 24-0
Half
• UBC try – #9 Vivianna Johnson (#1 Rori Wood convert) – 31-0
• UBC try – #10 Kendra Roberts (#1 Rori Wood convert) – 38-0
• UBC try – #11 Madison Blusson (convert missed) – 43-0
• UBC try – #1 Rori Wood (#1 Rori Wood convert) – 50-0

Calgary Dinos 45, UFV Cascades 0
Scoring summary:
CGY: 24-21: 45
UFV: 0-0: 0
• CGY try – #6 Grace Campbell (#15 Elysa Sandron convert) – 7-0
• CGY try – #12 Emma Newton (convert missed) – 12-0
• CGY try – #15 Elysa Sandron (convert missed) – 17-0
• CGY try – #7 Alisa Illichova (#22 Berlyn Seselja) – 24-0
Half
• CGY try – #11 Kate Knight (#22 Berlyn Seselja) – 31-0
• CGY try – #12 Emma Newton (#22 Berlyn Seselja) – 38-0
• CGY try – #6 Grace Campbell (#22 Berlyn Seselja) – 45-0

Tournament standings

TEAM    WINS    LOSSES TIES        POINTS
VIC         6              0              0              24
UBC       5              1              0              21
LET         3              2              1              16
CGY        3              2              1              16
ALB        2              4              0              12
UFV       1              5              0              9
UBCO    0              6              0              6
NOTE: Teams are awarded four points for a win, two points for a draw, and one point for a loss.

Overall series standings

Team / Tourney 1 pts / Tourney 2 pts / Total pts
UBC – 15 / 12 / 27 pts
VIC – 10 / 15 / 25 pts
LET – 12 / 10 / 22 pts
CGY – 8 / 8 / 16 pts
ALB – 6 / 6 / 12 pts
UFV – 4 / 4 / 8 pts
UBCO – NA / 2 / 2 pts
REG – 2 / NA / 2 pts
TRU – 1 / NA / 1 pt

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