WOLFVILLE, N.S. – The Axewomen rugby team will advance to the AUS Subway women's rugby championship game in Antigonish on Friday against the host StFX X-Women after a hard fought 22-17 win over the visiting UPEI Panthers.
Acadia's Subway Player of the Game Sarah Baxter (Moncton, N.B.) scored the eventual winning try with 15 minutes remaining in the game as the Panthers closed in on the Axewomen in the dying seconds of the match.
The Axewomen pulled out to an early 17-0 lead on trys by Gillian Bergsma (Waterford, Ont.), Harley Tucker (Black Diamond, B.C.) and Laura Klingenberg (Owen Sound, Ont.) and one conversion by Laura Pfleiderer (150 Mile House, B.C.) after 27 minutes of play.
The physical contest changed direction when UPEI's Tara Campbell (Summerside, P.E.I.) scored in the closing of the first half to narrow the Acadia 17-5 halftime lead.
Five minutes in the second half, Holly Hartlen (Summerside, P.E.I.) closed the gap to five on a try and conversion by Alysha Corrigan (Sherwood, P.E.I).
A see-saw battle of field position was finally broken when Sarah Baxter added a try to the Axewomen's tally to push the lead to 22-12.
With ten minutes remaining in the game, Panther Brodie Cassata (Rothesay, N.B.) narrowed the lead to five with an unconverted try.
With the Panthers pressing in the closing minutes and trailing 22-17, UPEI was unable to convert good field position into a try to at least tie the match.
"We made it much harder on ourselves than we needed to but a lot of credit to UPEI", pointed out Acadia head coach Matt Durant. "They worked very hard and never gave up. They remain the best rucking and tackling team in our league and showed up ready to play a physical game."
"Thankfully we had some players step up and play the best games they had all season like Sarah Baxter", commented Durant. "We had some great individual performances, even if we let ourselves down at times as a team."
The win gives the Axewomen a punched ticket to the U Sports (formerly CIS) National Championship hosted by the University of Victoria November 3-6. Acadia now will prepare to defend their AUS championship in Antigonish against the 6-0 first place StFX X-Women on Friday night – 7:00 p.m.
Subway Players of the Game:
ACA – Sarah Baxter
UPEI – Alysha Corrigan
ACA – 24 min. – Harley Tucker try, not converted 12-0 ACA
ACA – 27 min. – Laura Klingenberg try, not converted 17-0 ACA
UPEI – 40 min. – Tara Campbell try 17-5
UPEI – 45 min. – Holly Hartlen try, converted by Alysha Corrigan 17-12
ACA – 66 min. – Sarah Baxter try, not converted 22-12
UPEI – 70 min. – Brodie Cassata try 22-17