Five lakecity rugby players who moved to Nova Scotia to play university rugby this season will be coming back to B.C. in November to play in the U Sports (formerly CIS) National Championship tournament at the University of Victoria.
Carleigh Walters and her St. Francis Xavier X-Women teammates finished a perfect 6-0 on the season and will face former Lake City Falcons teammates and now Acadia Axewomen Laura Pfleiderer, Emma Pfleiderer, Skye Forcier and Natasha Johnson in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Subway Women’s Rugby Championship in Antigonish, N.S. on Friday, Oct. 28.
The Axewomen (4-2) slipped past the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers on Friday, Oct. 21 in the AUS semifinal in a hard-fought 22-17 win to advance to the championship.
Laura helped the Axewomen pull out to an early 17-0 lead off a conversion after 27 minutes of play.
The top two teams in the AUS qualify for the national championship, which means both Acadia and St. Francis Xavier have already earned a berth regardless of the AUS championship outcome.
“It was a very stressful game,” Johnson said of the AUS semifinal, noting the implications. “We did not play like we’ve been playing all season, by any means. I played most of the game pretty injured but I’ll be back for the X-Women on Friday.”
Laura, Emma, Johnson and Walters all made their presences felt on their respective teams during the course of the regular season with Johnson running in eight tries (tied for second in the league), Emma scoring six times (third in the league), Laura scoring three times and Walters scoring once. Forcier, unfortunately, was forced out of action early in the season with a knee injury.
Johnson said heading into Friday’s AUS championship, the Axewomen will need to sharpen their game.
“Coming out against the X-Women we need to work a lot on our forwards and get the ball to our backs,” she said.
“Our backs are quite a bit stronger than theirs, but their forwards have a lot more size than we do.”
Johnson said the play of Laura will also be key in Friday’s tilt as she has shifted into the role of team’s convert kicker.
“That’s a huge role from her,” she said. “Hopefully her kicks will be on point and that’s what we need — her to bump us up as much as she can.”
The U Sports National Championship, meanwhile, takes place Nov. 3-6 at the University of Victoria.
“I’m so excited,” Johnson said of coming back home to B.C. to compete. “It’s going to be awesome to see lots of the girls we’ve played with through (BC Rugby) and a bunch of our family will be coming from Williams Lake.”
She also credited the support of their former Lake City Falcons head coach Morley Wilson and family and friends back home for their words of encouragement.
“(Morley) Wilson was a lot of help and we’ve gotten a lot of support from him,” Johnson said.
“I know he’s pretty excited. He’s trained us since Grade 8 and put so much work into us. You can tell he’s proud of us and that’s super helpful coming from home.”
For those interested in watching the AUS championship, it will be broadcast live online at www.AUStv.ca on Friday, Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. PST and via archive following the game.