VANCOUVER - National team veteran leadership, reinforcements from UBC and depth in key positions has Burnaby Lake Rugby Club gearing up for another run at the Gordon Harris Memorial Cup. The five-time provincial champions opened their 2013 Adidas Women's Premiership campaign with a 76-22 win over a depleted Velox Valkyries lineup and will now look to carry the momentum into this weekend's clash with a youthful Simon Fraser University side.
"We have been training hard since the beginning of January and were excited to kick off last weekend," said Burnaby and Canadian national team standout Julia Sugawara. "We were focused on getting everyone on the same page, letting some new players show us what they are capable of and getting the rust off after a long break."
The new additions to Burnaby's roster include a handful of UBC players who have joined the club for the spring season including Gabby Hindley in the backs and Carolyn McEwen and Haley Glendinning in the forwards. UVic graduate Abby Goodwin has also joined the ranks. Providing veteran leadership with Sugawara is national team rep Kim Donaldson.
"We have the same end goal that we always do which is to make the final," said Sugawara. "Outside of that, as our coach [Walt Brandl] always preaches, the goal is to get better each game. [We will look] to bring concepts or mechanics we have been practicing during the week into the games and grow as players and as a team each weekend."
Standing in the way of Burnaby's third consecutive provincial final appearance are Lower Mainland rivals United and Bayside as well as this weekend's opponents SFU.
"United and Bayside will be up there and despite our score last weekend, with a full premier side, [defending champs] Velox should be pretty competitive. I was really impressed with the number of SFU women that came out for the VRU (Vancouver) team recently," added Sugawara. "SFU always bring a solid game. They have a few strike runners and some outside pace that we will need to contain if we want to stay in the game. They always work hard at the breakdowns and run nice support lines off their ball carriers."
A key SFU player to watch this weekend will be Demi Stamatakis, a BC U23 provincial team graduate who recently played for Vancouver in the Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup. A dynamic forward, Stamatakis also played in the backs for Vancouver when they battled Vancouver Island in January.
"Demi is a great ball carrier and a definite threat," Sugawara added. "She not only carries the ball well, but has the skills to offload and move the ball outside. She is also a force in the scrum, given her strength and technique. Their scrum half Christina Burnham also gives SFU great options with her strong and accurate passing."
SFU (1-0) and Burnaby Lake (1-0) are set to scrum down on Saturday at 11:30am at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex. White Rock's Bayside Sharks (0-1) will travel to the North Shore for a round two fixture against Capilano RFC (0-1).
Women's Adidas Premiership - Sat. March 2nd:
SFU at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 11:30am
Bayside AA at Capilano RFC (Klahanie Park) 11:30am