Campus Life

Horns roll to Canada West title

For the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women's rugby team, it's all about the numbers. Sunday afternoon in Edmonton, that number was four, as in the number of consecutive Canada West championships they'd won. In two weeks, the number they'll be looking for is three, meaning a third consecutive national crown.

The Horns are well on their way to achieving that goal after cruising through the Canada West tournament this past weekend. After throttling UBC Thunderbirds 86-0 in the semifinal round, the Horns rolled past host University of Alberta Pandas 30-0 in the championship game. In keeping with the numbers' theme, the tally for the weekend was 116-0.

"The effort had to be there today because the U of A kept coming, and they didn't give up throughout the match," Pronghorns head coach Neil Langevin told Matt Gutsch, U of A sports information. "We knew that they would be very structured and that we would have to put together something really special here today to get past them. We're obviously very proud of the effort and happy that we got the win."

Canada West Player of the Year Ashley Patzer scored a try, two converts and two drop goals to the lead the Pronghorns to the victory. Ashley Zaremba, Andrea Letal and Brittany Orr also added trys for the Pronghorns, who now head to the CIS national championship tournament undefeated on the year and likely as the #1-seed. They'll be seeking their third consecutive CIS crown.

Sunday's championship tilt was the seventh time in the last nine years Alberta and Lethbridge have met in the conference deciding game, with the Pronghorns having now won the last three battles against their provincial rivals.

Alberta won five straight CIS titles from 1999 to 2003 and six straight Canada West banners from 1999 to 2004 until the Pronghorns took over as the dominant rugby program in the country.

The Horns ran up a 19-0 lead by the half and kept the game under control in the second stanza. Patzer, behind an impressive line performance, was her usual game-changing self.

"I do believe she is one of the top five players in the world, and we're really proud of her," Langevin told the U of A. "She has grown so much in her five years, and not just as a player, but as a leader and as an individual."

For his part, Langevin was named 2009 conference coach of the year.

The CIS national tournament is set for Nov. 6-8 in Vancouver. Patzer and company have two weeks to prepare for a final run at a third straight national title.

"We just have to go home now and prepare to compete for that next championship," Patzer says. "We just need to stay together as a team and stay focused as a team, and make our week of practice really worthwhile."