Campus Life

Horns win CIS rugby crown

The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns are three-time national champions after successfully defending their national title for the second consecutive year, beating the St. Francis Xavier X-Women 20-3 in the CIS women's rugby gold medal game on Sunday at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver.

The Pronghorns were in the driver's seat all game, as the X-Women, like every opponent Lethbridge has faced this year, were unable to break down the CIS champions' defence once they fell behind. Andrea Letal (Calgary, Alta.), who was named the CIS tournament MVP, scored a try 11 minutes into the contest, and that turned out to be all the 'Horns needed to take home the gold.

"We were really well composed and the girls played exactly the game plan we asked them to," said Horns' head coach Neil Langevin. "The defence has been the hallmark of this group and it's just a wonderful group to coach. We played defence first. We kept the ball in their end as much as possible and tried to force them into mistakes."

That strategy paid off for Lethbridge, as they extended their lead in the 26th minute when sustained pressure in the X-Women's end of the field resulted in a penalty goal attempt for Ashley Patzer (Lethbridge, Alta.) from about 20 yards out. The All-Canadian and tournament all-star made no mistake, splitting the uprights to put her side up 8-0.

Brittany Orr (Fort Macleod, Alta.), also named to the tournament all-star team, provided the nail in the coffin just a few minutes later. She received the ball on the right wing 30 yards from goal, cut back to the middle of the field to beat a St. FX defender and scored to put her side up 13-0. Patzer's conversion made it 15-0, giving the X-Women little hope of getting back into the game against the stifling Pronghorns defence.

Courtnay Malcom (New Glasgow, N.S.) did get her side on the board before the half-time break, nailing a penalty goal from 20 yards in the 34th minute, but the X-Women could do nothing offensively in the second half. They did push deep into Pronghorn territory occasionally but were never able to finish their drives before the Pronghorn defence won back the ball.

"Our back three were important all weekend," said Langevin. "All the girls did a great job clearing the ball and we credit them a lot because they did face some pressure."

Letal added to her MVP credentials early in the second half with another try, this time a 30-yard sprint down the right wing to all but seal the win for the Horns, putting them up 20-3. It was their second straight meeting with the X-Women in the title game, as they won gold with a 29-15 result last year.

In addition to Letal, Patzer and Orr, Lethbridge's Alex Hendricks (Lomond, Alta.), Kelsey Willoughby (Lethbridge, Alta.) and Brandi Van Eeuwen (Duncan, B.C.) were also named tournament all-stars. Asya Bartley (Ottawa, Ont.), Tyson Beukeboom (Uxbridge, Ont.) and Ghislaine Landry (Toronto, Ont.) were named to the all-star team for St. FX.