Campus Life

The quest for four

Here come the Pronghorns, and after three successive national championship victories, that means everyone stands up and takes notice.

The Horns, five-time Canada West women's rugby champions, began their quest for a fourth consecutive CIS national title Thursday morning against the Queen's Gaels, winning 15-12 in an overtime thriller. It was the first of two preliminary matches in Pool A, and with the win, the Horns now meet Concordia Stingers on Saturday morning (9 a.m., MST) in a game to be broadcast live on

The Horns are now a perfect 7-0 on the year but it hasn't been a cakewalk to this point. They were pushed hard by University of Alberta in the Canada West final, which they won 18-5, and they'll have to play their best game to win another national title.

Following is a look at Thursday's opening match. If you want a full preview of the national tournament, follow this link. Should the Horns win both their preliminary games, the CIS championship game will be played on Sunday, noon (MST).

Kelsey Willoughby
Pronghorns rugby player Kelsey Willoughby fights through a University of Alberta tackle during the Canada West final at the Community Sports Stadium.

Pronghorns 15 Queen's 12 (OT)

While it took overtime, the three-time defending CIS Champion Lethbridge Pronghorns won their opening game at the CIS Championships with a 15-12 overtime victory. Horns fly half Laura Murphy-Burke kicked a penalty goal in the extra frame to give the Horns the come-from-behind victory.

Whether it was nerves or not, the Horns' offence was disjointed for the majority of the game, plagued by knock-ons and poor passing, but the Horns did just enough to keep their quest for a fourth straight Monilex trophy alive.

"We were outplayed by a fired-up Queen's team," said Horns head coach Neil Langevin. "We are lucky to get a win out of it. In the end, I think our experience of playing tough Canada West games helped us to be calm in extra time."

Queen's jumped out of the gates, scoring a converted try in the opening two minutes of play to take a 7-0 lead, but the Horns would answer that score quickly. Murphy-Burke broke free from the Gaels' defenders 15 yards out and raced to touch. She converted her own try to tie the score at 7-7.

While the Horns held a territorial advantage for the majority of the half, they could not string together sustained runs, and miscues kept the Horns from scoring.

Eerily similar to the opening half, the Gaels marched down the field to open the second half and scored an unconverted try to regain their lead at 12-7.

For the next 20 minutes, the Gaels hemmed the Horns into their own side of the field and the same errors that plagued the Horns in the opening half continued to stall their attack. With time becoming the enemy, fullback Brittany Orr broke free for a 50-yard scamper and tied the score 12-12 after touching down in the corner. Murphy-Burke's difficult attempt for convert missed.

After defending a late Queen's push to force the game into overtime, the Horns dictated the pace in the extra frame, setting up Murphy-Burke's heroics. Taking advantage of a high tackle penalty, she booted home the winning penalty kick from 17 yards to give the Horns the victory.