By Lethbridge Herald on October 12, 2018.
The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team made sure Jillian Tataryn, Eden Hoff and Fisayo Latilo went out as winners.
Mathematically eliminated from playoffs, the Horns capped off their Canada West season with a 23-15 win over the U SPORTS fifth-ranked and previously undefeated Calgary Dinos Thursday night at the University of Lethbridge Stadium, finishing the season at 2-4.
Statistically speaking, the Pronghorns managed to hand the Dinos their first loss of the season thanks to a pair of late tries that sealed the deal, but beyond the overall number crunching was the importance of giving their graduating trio the proper sendoff.
A win and a special post-game ceremony and photo session complete with a presentation of a personalized capital “H” for each veteran did so nicely.
For Hoff, a history of knee injuries dating back to her high school years threw up some roadblocks for the product of Claresholm.
But on Thursday night, she was recognized with a sendoff that produced some tears.
“I’ve had two knee surgeries,” said Hoff, who played on this year’s team with sisters Siena and Sofia. “I tore my ACL in my Grade 11 year and didn’t get to play in Grade 12. (But) I knew I wanted to come here, I wanted to be a Pronghorn since Grade 8. So it was always a dream and I worked towards that and I accomplished it.”
But the knee problems resurfaced.
“In my third year I tore my ACL playing sevens,” said Hoff. “So it was a major reconstruction, a full year out which was really hard and that was my fourth year.”
She still has another year of eligibility, but those knee injuries have Hoff hanging up the cleats.
“But this is what I’ve been working towards for five years, especially after being injured it was really important for me, not just for myself, but for my teammates in those five years,” she said. “It’s just so awesome to be surrounded by my friends and my family in this program in this city. It’s just a perfect ending, I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
A local product, Tataryn savoured the sendoff on home soil.
Even the weather co-operated Thursday night.
Honestly, there’s no better feeling than playing on our home field, especially when the weather gets a little bit nicer so the fans come out and we can play for all our family and friends,” she said. “Just getting the win to end the season on a high note and gives us a good luck going into the future.”
Her path to the Pronghorns was literally in Tataryn’s blood.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Pronghorn when I was in high school and when I first started watching rugby when my brother was playing,” she said. “Being able to play my for five years really has meant a lot and finishing it on our home field means everything.”
Hailing from up the road in Calgary, Latilo’s said her five years in southern Alberta flew by.
“I’ve gained such an awesome family here,” she said. “The games and the travelling have been fun, but the memories I’ll hold are the people I played with. Those girls have become my family and my sisters.”
Pronghorns head coach Neil Langevin noted his graduating players’ ability to play wherever they were needed.
“For Jill, it’s just been an incredible journey of changing positions. She’s so solid now and Fis, we put her in a wruck position in change of positions, as we did with Eden. Their fifth-year experience and confidence really help this young group to play well this year. So I’m really proud of those three.”
Abby Duguid got things rolling for the Pronghorns in the first minute before the Dinos answered back with a try from Kasselle Menin to tie it 5-5.
Lethbridge went back up on a penalty goal from Caitlin Sears.
Calgary took their first lead when Isla Shill ran for a try that put the Dinos up 10-8, but Duguid second try of the game gave the Pronghorns a 13-10 lead at the half.
The Dinos took their last lead early in the second half on Shill’s second try of the night, but scores from Carolyn McKee and Sydney De La Mare in the 57th and 75th minutes gave the Pronghorns a lead they didn’t give back.
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