KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan women’s rugby team, on the frozen tundra of the Mission Sports Fields in Kelowna, BC, soundly dismissed the Brit Lions rugby club 43-0 in the semi-final of the BC Club rugby tier 2 league.
With temperatures hovering around 0 Celsius all game long the ground echoed and the tackles landed hard, but the Heat displayed incredible athleticism and power in their shutout.
The 43-0 win is the team’s third straight shutout after finishing the regular season with back-to-back zeroes, including dropping this Brit squad 68-0 last week in Delta. Two weeks ago they shut down Ridge Meadows 67-0 in Kelowna.
Women’s rugby at UBC Okanagan has been around for three years, but this year is the first where the team is entirely made up of full-time university students, and the inaugural season has been a huge success.
“To put our accomplishment this year in context, doing this well in the first year of operation is pretty amazing,” said Okanagan coach Rob O’Brien. “Last year our women did compete in the same division but did it in partnership with the local community who supplied many experienced quality players. We essentially started with a sub-set of the team we had last year and built them into a much more competitive squad.”
UBC Okanagan controlled the game with the Brits from the kickoff, yet scored just three tries and had no converts for most of the first half, then Krystle Carpenter broke free and blazed her way on a long run for her second score of the half. The convert was good just before the whistle and UBC Okanagan had a comfortable 22-0 lead at the break.
After switching sides, the play was stuck in the middle for the early portion of the second when the Heat’s Angie Williams powered through the Brit line, making a couple moves and scoring the fifth try of the match for the Okanagan team. It was 29-0 at that point.
Danielle Fearns scored to close out the match for UBC Okanagan, but not before Heat captain Krystle Carpenter scored her third try of the game, where it ended 43-0 for UBC Okanagan.
“Krystle is a force on the field,” O’Brien said. “She is both a constant offensive threat as well as a punishing defender. However, her importance to the team goes far beyond this. Her teammates would literally go to war for her, because they know she would do the same for them.”
Earlier this week, O’Brien commented that making the finals would be the “best result for local women’s rugby in many years.”
“Last year UBC Vancouver competed in this same division and did not do as well as we have,” he continued. “Our success is solely due to the complete commitment and dedication of our players. They have represented UBC Okanagan very well and deserve any recognition and exposure we can give them.”
Now the Heat will play in the final next weekend against Abbotsford in the Lower Mainland. Abbotsford is the only team to have bested the Heat this season, the 34-12 loss occurring on November 2nd at the CFV Exhibition Park.
“We played Abbotsford during a torrential downpour on a very cold day,” O’Brien recalled. “The game was very close at the half, 17-12, and we pressed them into the second half. However, the conditions made passing the ball handling very difficult. We match up reasonably well against Abbotsford. However, I honestly feel we have much more talent in our back three. These assets were neutralized by the weather.”
“After the Abbotsford game I challenged the players to increase the intensity of their play and their commitment to each other,” O’Brien added. “They responded and in the three games since we have outscored our opponents 179-0. Given this, I think that we have raised our level of play and I feel good about our chances in the final.”
Jordan Pitman who didn’t dress for the game was extremely excited that her team won, and vows to play in the final next week in Vancouver next week. “Nothing is going to keep me out next week.” Jordan coped with the chill on Saturday: “I put hand warmers in my boots, my toes are toasty.”
The location and time for the Final of the Tier 2 playoffs is TBD.
The Heat women’s rugby roster is: Aliyah.Rodominski, Angie.Williams, Aniko.Hawthorn, Chloe.Worrall, Christine.Dixon, Danielle.Fearns, Elora.Bascello, Emily.O'Connor, Emma.Graham, Eunice.Punzalan, Hayley.Fiebelkorn, Jacqueline.Dubreuil, Jasmine.Doll, Jessica.Sulz, Jordan.Pittman*, Kelsey.Wuerstl, Kristin.Vidi*, Krystle.Carpenter*, Lauren.Klassen, Maddie.Thomsen*, Madison.Tardif*, Marie.Martens, Monique.Beaulieu, Peng.Wen.Kuo, Queency.Chu, Tachona.Jones, Terra.Robertson. Coached by Rob O’Brien*, and Rachel King is the manager.