An undefeated season by the Pen High Lakers girls rugby team was capped by a better than expected showing at provincials.
The Lakers placed sixth out of 24 teams during the provincial rugby championship.
“They performed extremely well,” said Lakers coach Marty Godsmark. “Everybody reached way down. We only took 17 players that could actually play. The others were either injured or weren’t able to make the trip. It’s a competition where if you don’t have 25 to 35 athletes with you, all of which are ready to go right in, you don’t tend to do very well. For us to come sixth in the province was exceptional.”
The Lakers opened the championship held in Vancouver May 24 to 26 with a 34-12 loss to Cowichan Secondary. Scoring for the Lakers were Kara Perahudoff and Adrienne Penner with a convert by Perahudoff. The Lakers won their second match, defeating Walnut Grove 15-5. Tessa Goeckel, Penner and Amaya Black scored. Against Lord Tweedsmuir, the Lakers lost 28-10. Brook-Lyn Ouimette and Perahudoff scored. Godsmark described the teams they faced as extremely strong.
“Cowichan was huge, Tweedsmuir were massive too,” he said. “They had 35 to 40 girls and that’s why they did so well in their final game.”
Godsmark said it was good for the players to see that calibre of rugby.
“If I was doing this another year, I would take them down at least once or twice to play coast sides during our season. They absolutely have to have that to give them any kind of chance in provincials. That’s what I used to do with the boys.”
Kaitlin Kennedy, named the most dedicated player during the team’s awards night, said playing was awesome.
“It hasn’t happened to us much,” said Kennedy. “It was a really great experience so there was a lot of great teams and we got to watch a lot of great rugby. It was really fun.”
After adjusting to the play in the first game, Kennedy said they stepped up their performance.
“Confidence grew as the tournament went on,” said Kennedy, who played the backfield. “It was kind of intimidating because they were so much better. We bled pretty well. Supported each other and played as a team.”
Tessa Goeckel said provincials was amazing.
“It was a really good experience for all of us to feel that level of competition we don’t get in the Okanagan,” said Tessa, a Grade 12 student, who was named the top forward. “I think it was a good building process for our team. The level of competition is so much harder.”
She too admitted that it was intimidating, but said they had to compose themselves.
“We did something right to get here so we shouldn’t be intimidated,” she said. “It was kind of the dream. Since I started in Grade 9, I said we’re going to go to provincials one year. To do it in my grad year was phenomenal.”
The Lakers finished the regular season in first place in the Okanagan/Thompson AAA division after a perfect season of six wins with no losses. This ranked them No. 4 in the provincial AAA seeding.
Other award winners for the Lakers were as follows: Katie Wolanski was named best back, Ouimette was most improved, Kendra Penner and Zoe Konanz as best rookies and Adrienne Penner was the top point earner.