After dominating the Okanagan Valley, the B.C. High School Girls Rugby championship level pressure got the best of the Pen High Lakers senior girls rugby team.
Facing the best B.C. had to offer in Vancouver, the Lakers finished sixth in the AAA standings after heading in ranked seventh.The Lakers opened the championship facing No. 2 ranked Carson Graham, which has won five of the last seven AAA championships.
“We lost 29-7 but played very well against a very experienced team made up of all senior students, while we play with girls from Grade 9 to 12,” said coach Ian Butters. “During the first 15 minutes, our girls had some understandable trouble coming to terms with the pressure of a provincial championship game and let in a couple of soft tries.”
Things changed midway through the first half and Butters said the players gave Carson Graham all they could handle.
“During the second half, we put on tons of pressure but did not have the experience to crack a very well drilled and experienced team more than once,” he said.
Carson Graham went on to win the provincial championship defeating GP Vanier. Their second game was a 20-17 loss to Gleneagle from the Fraser Valley. The Lakers ended the game camped on Gleneagle’s goal line and came within inches of scoring in the last few seconds.
“The game was ultimately decided by a couple of lucky breaks for them,” said Butters. “It easily could have gone the other way.”
Against Burnaby North in their third and final game, the Lakers found their comfort level winning 17-5. Butter said his group dominated the game. While the Lakers had a very successful season in their own league, Butters said they never faced experienced competition.
“We are graduating quite a few Grade 12’s but will be left with a very strong core of experienced Grade 9’s, 10’s and 11’s for next year,” he said. “We will want to do as much recruiting of athletes who want to give rugby a try prior to next year in order to make the team a provincial contender.”
The championship had 24 teams competing in the AAA, AA and Tier 2 level. Finishing third in the AAA standings was Cowichan, while Gleneagle (Coquitlam) was fourth, Lord Tweedsmuir (Surrey) fifth, NorKam seventh and Walnut Grove (Langley) eighth.