By Woodard, Dale on October 7, 2019.
The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team have reclaimed the Suggitt Cup.
They also grabbed their second win in the process as the Horns downed the Alberta Pandas 34-12 in Canada West play Saturday afternoon at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.
The win not improves the Pronghorns to 2-3 on the season, it also clinches the Suggitt Cup, the hardware named after former Horns and Pandas coach Ric Suggitt, who passed away in the summer of 2017.
For fourth-year flanker Carolyn McKee, that meant just as much as the win that snaps a three-game losing streak as the Pronghorns continue to tune up to host the Canada West Championship later this month.
“We brought it home,” said the product of Stirling. “It feels so good. Rick coached me my two years here at the university and having the Suggitt Cup and having his family here really keeps his memory alive.”
Heading into Saturday’s game the Pronghorns held a comfortable 27-0 lead after beating the Pandas during the open weekend of the season. Last year, the Pandas claimed the Suggitt Cup by a single point after the two teams split the season series.
The Pronghorns won the inaugural Suggitt Cup in 2017.
“They’re ecstatic. It means a lot,” said Pronghorns head coach Neil Langevin.
Still, it wasn’t a blazing start out of the gate. The Pandas held an early 12-7 lead on tries by Cara Park and Courtney Holtkamp.
Caitlin Sears scored the Pronghorns first try and also kicked the convert between the two Pandas tries.
“We started slowly, we kept turning over the ball on unforced errors,” said Langevin. “The girls knew all they needed to do was keep possession and if they keep possession we’re pretty good offensively. I’m really proud of the effort. They were resilient.”
Tries by Savanna Collison in the 35th minute and another by Rebecca Powell right at the first half buzzer gave Lethbridge a 17-12 lead.
The scoresheet was theirs the rest of the way as Sydney De La Mare, Marguerite Medwid and Gwen Fillinger scored in the second half to round out the scoring.
“They took it upon themselves, at half time I really didn’t change much,” said Langevin. “The leaders and the whole team made a lot of adjustments at the half. We just talked about confidence and continuity.”
Powell’s try right at the end of the first half was a nice shot in the arm.
“It just brings the whole team up,” said McKee. “It gives us momentum and shows us that all our hard work is paying off. We’re getting some breaks and we’re doing good things. Let’s keep doing those good things.”
The Pronghorns head to Calgary Friday to face the Dinos in their final regular season game.
The Horns have clinched a top-four spot, but are automatic entrants into the Canada West championship as hosts. The event takes place Oct. 18 and 20 at the U of L Stadium.
“We still have our eye on the playoffs, but obviously we were disappointed to lose that home game to the Dinos (27-17 Sept. 1 at the U of L Stadium) and we know they’re going to be a really strong team and home,” said Langevin. “But we are going to check in with our physio and our doctor. We have a couple of new bang-ups today. So hopefully we’ll be OK.”
Then they’ll worry about who they’ll play in the post-season.
“It’s just a matter who plays who,” said Langevin. “We started looking at some scenarios, but we’ll get through the Dino game first.”
Either way, it’s a fun time to be a Horn with the Canada West championship right around the corner.
“It feels so good,” said McKee. “We have so much support from our community, our families, our alumni program and our coaching staff. Just being able to come out here and play for our fans was very special to us and we’re excited to host the Canada west and come out on top there.”
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