by Brian Nutt
|BC Banshees take second in Las Vegas|
|Published Tuesday, February 14, 2012 5:00 am|
Las Vegas: The BC Banshees girls team came up a touch short against a solid Notre Dame Hounds team in the high school girls 7s final in Las Vegas. The Hounds capitalized on early turnovers, and kept up good defensive pressure to ride out the rest of the game. Sheridan Davis scored the Banshee's only try in a 25-7 losing effort.
While disappointed with the loss, captain Jess Neilson was proud of her team's performance. "All we were hoping for was a chance to play and show that we can compete. I'm very happy with our performance. The girls have all said that they would love to come back to Las Vegas next year."
Several of the Banshee players participated in the Collegiate Recruitment and Combine Program at Sam Boyd Stadium. The girls were run through a series of drills and their results were recorded by representatives from American Rugby Management Group, who informed them of the growing number of scholarship opportunities for both male and female rugby players.
With their tournament wrapped up, the Banshees set about relaxing, Las Vegas style. The remainder of the weekend was filled with sightseeing, all-you-can-eat buffets, and shopping. The highlight of the trip, however, was attending the USA 7s tournament on Saturday, where they were able to watch the Canadian senior national womens' 7s team defeat France in the divisional semi-final. The competition and the colourful pageantry made this trip a rugby experience these young ladies will never forget.
The Banshees had a great start to the two-day tournament, the largest of its kind in the world. The team overcame early nervous butterflies, and quickly settled into a strong rhythm. Speed was a huge asset but their defence was also very strong. They held their first opponents, Lowland Red from Utah, at the line on a late rush, and emerged with a 28-0 win. Ciara Malone scored three tries, Alexis Myhre contributed another and Jess Neilson rounded out the score with 4 conversions.
Two hours later, the girls took on the second Utah team, Lowland Blue, coming away with a 26-0 victory. Lowland Blue came close a few times, but were turned away by a tough Banshee defence. Lauren Kerr contributed a try and a convert, while Nicole Bengco, off a superb pass from Catie Ryan, added a try of her own. Ciara Malone contributed two additional tries, and Jess Neilson 2 converts.
The third game of the day pitted the Banshees against Shelton High School from Washington State. Again the models of consistency, the Banshees prevailed 27-0. Caitie Ryan contributed two tries, with singles added by Ciara Malone, Jasmyn Niquidet and Erica Pfleiderer. This was the toughest of the three games, and the girls had to dig deep to prevent Shelton from scoring during a very threatening late drive. The win assured the Banshees a spot in the tournament final against the tough Notre Dame Squad.
The Banshees are a self-organized team that includes players from around BC. The girls communicated with each other primarily via social media, and eventually enlisted the help of a few supportive parents to organize the team this past fall. While most of the players have had rep team and tournament experience, this is the first time the girls have played together as a 7s unit.
Coach Julia Sugawara was pleased with the progress made and the aptitude her young charges showed for the game, which is a significant departure from the traditional 15s game.
"We've focused on the basics such as ball handling, field position and communication", stated Sugawara, a veteran of the Canadian national team program. “With Sevnes included in the 2016 Olympics, many rugby unions and clubs have already begun identifying talented players. We expected a very competitive field, as many of our opponents hail from top-notch high school and club programs."
The team wishes to thank coach Sugawara for providing such wonderful leadership, guidance and friendship. Julia served as an inspiration and role model for the Banshees, and gave the girls tremendous insight into the 7s game.
The Banshees also would like to sincerely thank the many donors who supported their cause by making donations on the BC Rugby News website, and to uniform sponsor Aaron Dubois of ProFit. The overwhelming support was totally unexpected, which makes it all the more appreciated. The team hopes that the donors and all supporters of girls rugby enjoyed following their progress, and is happy to share their success with all of their families and supporters.
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