Victoria – The University of the Fraser Valley women’s rugby sevens club battled through a litany of injuries this weekend, finishing eighth at the Canada West Women’s Sevens Series finale in Victoria.
The Cascades were simply worn down by injury attrition over the two-day tournament hosted by the Victoria Vikes. Veteran standouts Mackenzie Fowler, Nicole Drouin, Cheye Gustafson and Melissa Jongedijk were sidelined over the course of the event, and not coincidentally, the UFV club went winless at a tournament for the first time in over two years.
“We went in with so much hope and positive thoughts,” Cascades head coach Jen Ross said. “I’m so proud of how we played, we just didn’t have any finishing power left. It was a mentally exhausting tournament.”
On Saturday, the Cascades fell 47-5 to Alberta in their opener, with Fowler scoring their lone try. In their next match vs. UBC, they opened an early 7-0 lead on a try from Jongedijk and a convert from Fowler, and carried the play for much of the first half, but the T-Birds came roaring back to win 41-7 as Fowler exited due to injury. In their final game of the day, they dropped a 33-7 decision to Trinity Western, with Kira Katan contributing a try and Gustafson the convert.
Jongedijk went down with a broken leg in the opening minute of Sunday’s consolation semifinal vs. Lethbridge, and the UFV squad went on to fall 38-0. In the seventh/eighth placing game, the UBC Okanagan Heat got a late try and convert from Shaira Venegas to edge the Cascades 19-12. Katan scored two tries and booted one convert for UFV.
“It was hard to bounce back (from Jongedijk’s injury),” Ross noted. “The girls what were on the field put up a huge fight . . . but we had nothing left in us.
“There have been lots of positives this season, and we have to focus on those.”
In the third of three CW Sevens Series stops, the Victoria Vikes needed just a fourth-place result to clinch their third straight championship. They did better than that, running the table capped by a 29-0 victory over UBC in the tournament final. The Cascades finished seventh overall.
FINAL CW WOMEN’S RUGBY SEVENS SERIES STANDINGS
TEAM ALB Tourney UBC Tourney VIC Tourney TOTAL
VIC 15 15 15 45
UBC 8 12 12 32
ALB 12 10 8 30
LET 10 8 6 24
CGY 6 6 10 22
TWU 4 4 4 12
UFV 2 2 1 5
UBCO 1 1 2 4