May 30th, 2024

Horns rugby gets payback


By Dale Woodard on October 9, 2021.

The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team scored some payback and, more importantly, a playoff berth.

The Pronghorns downed the Calgary Dinos 22-14 in Canada West action Friday night at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.

The win improves the Horns to 3-1 on the season and also offers up a little redemption following a 12-6 loss to the Dinos two weeks ago in Calgary.

Fittingly, the win – the first against the Dinos since Oct. 11, 2018 – clinches a post season spot and came on a night when the Pronghorns honored eight graduating players with Seniors Night.

“I think it was us deciding it was our game, home turf, Seniors Night, it was our game and we knew it,” said local product and fifth-year centre Abigail Neudorf, one of the seniors honoured Friday night.

“We knew we could play better rugby, and our rugby, and it showed. It was so much fun to play.”

On Friday, the Pronghorns also donned gold shirts on the sidelines for the Bo Smith Co. Childhood Cancer Awareness fundraiser, named after Pronghorns senior prop Karlee Durfey’s three-year-old niece who was diagnosed with the disease when she was two.

Wearing the gold shirts, the Horns also turned in a gold performance after falling behind 7-0 a little under four minutes into the game.

Pronghorns Gwen Fillinger and Abby Duguid ran for tries and Neudorf added a penalty kick for 17-7 halftime lead the Horns never relinquished.

Genna Wright added one more try for Lethbridge in the second half before Calgary’s Grace Campbell added a late score for the visitors.

“We started slow, which was not the ideal start for us,” said Pronghorns head coach Graeme Moffat.

“But the girls did really well to fight their way back in and maybe where we lacked some composure in the early first 20 minutes of the game. I felt we showed it was a really mature performance. The Dinos are a well-coached team who have come off the end of a hard road trip, playing four games in 14 days. So they were tired and I think that potentially showed in some of their performance, but we were delighted to win and our girls executed what we wanted them to do. I thought our breakdown work was excellent and we were defending really well when we didn’t have the ball.”

The win, however, didn’t come without a price.

Caitlin Sears, one of the graduating players, injured her knee in the first half, didn’t return and is unlikely to make next week’s trip to the west coast as the Pronghorns wrap up their regular season schedule in Vancouver and Victoria.

“Caitlin isn’t looking too good right now,” said Moffat. “I’ll be surprised if she travels with us to the coast, just based on the initial assessment, which is unfortunate. She’s been outstanding for us in the earlier games.”

The Pronghorns are in Vancouver Thursday to face the UBC Thunderbirds and wrap up the regular season in Victoria Oct. 17 against the Vikes.

However, they head to the coast having taken care of playoff business.

“It’s huge for us and I’m just so pumped this happened,” said Neudorf. “And now, this will help us ride a wave going into the coast.”

Moffat said Friday’s win should put them into second or third going into the Canada West playoffs.

“We have a tough road trip coming up against two very good teams, UBC and the University of Victoria. So we’ll have to mange bodies and manage the volume of training and the load of minutes they have. Thankfully, we have a week off prior to heading to Canada West, which is really going to be beneficial.”

With the win secured, the first-year Pronghorns coach welcomed the chance to honour the grads.

Or perhaps keep them around a little longer.

“I have to try and get them to do their Masters or see if there are any PhD programs here,” said Moffat with a grin.

“We have some excellent girls who are real leaders on this team and certainly as a new coach coming into this program I’m blessed to have such great teammates and leaders that really drive the standard in what we try to do. I’m happy with our team dynamic. It’s a credit to the senior players and it’s a credit to Neil (Langevin), JJ (Ondrus) Rob (Kossuth) and Toby (Boulet). The previous management staff has done a phenomenal job. Our goal is to create the best environment we can for the girls so they can be successful. We want to enjoy ourselves as well and I think they’ll enjoy having a win tonight.”

A Winston Churchill graduate, Neudorf soaked up her final Horns home game.

“It’s really cool,” she said. “It’s really important that the team comes together like this and celebrates each other. That positivity really makes us a tight group of girls. I’ve been here for six years and finishing on this note was awesome.”

Pronghorns action continues into the Thanksgiving weekend as the men’s and women’s soccer teams entertain the Alberta Pandas and Golden Bears today and Sunday.

The women’s games start at noon each day with the men’s games following at 2:15 p.m.

The Pronghorns women (0-6) look for their first win of the season against the 3-5 Pandas.

Through six games, the Pronghorns have scored three times with Lucy Mundy leading the team with two goals and assisting on the other one.

The Horns men are 0-5 and will face the 2-0-2 Golden Bears.

The Pronghorns have played well on home field this season, losing two close games, 1-0 to the Mount Royal Cougars and 2-1 last Saturday against the Calgary Dinos.

The games will be streamed live on http://www.canadawest.tv.

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