CALGARY – The girls of Banff rugby made history winning back-to-back zones championships for the first time on Thursday (May 30).
The Bears squashed their nemesis the Springbank Phoenix 43-15 at Calgary Rugby Union field to capture the championship and earn a trip to provincials next week.
Bears’ Krista Scurfield could not be stopped on offence and scored five tries in the championship match. Cat Dang and Skylar Belczyk each had one try.
Grace Pigott made good on four conversion kicks.
“It’s an exciting win,” said team captain Hannah Macnaughton. “(We've) been longtime rivals, us and Springbank, which just makes it even sweeter.”
On a windy pitch in Calgary with wildfire smoke creeping in, the first half of the zones finals finished close on the scoreboard, as the Bears tightly held a 12-10 advantage at half thanks to a 95-yard dash and score by Scurfield and Dang grinding the ball into the try zone.
The Bears held their breath late in the half though, when star scorer Cassidy Born was helped off the field after suffering a twisted ankle. She did not return to action.
Born was a key offensive player and her absence should have been greatly felt by the Bears. But nobody gave that memo to Scurfield, who exploded for four of her five tries in the second.
“Every time I got the ball, I just ran it in, I was just pretty successful ... my nerves kind of went away throughout the game and I just kind of just got better at the end of the game,” Scurfield said.
Bears coach Lee Garrett said Scurfield has “an eye for where the ball is going to be” after the bolting Bear intercepted two Phoenix passes and ran them into the try zone.
The first half was close, but the second half was a blowout. The Bears outscored the Phoenix 31-5 and looked unstoppable whenever they had possession of the ball.
“We tend to be a second half team,” said Macnaughton.
The win gives the team its first ever back-to-back zones championships, and for coach Maya Capel, one of the coaches who started the girls program back in 2011, it was nice to see the Bears take it.
“It’s about almost 10 years now that we have the rugby program going at the school and there's been lots of momentous occasions," she said, "but, you know, when you see the group of alumni coming out to support the kids and all the effort. We thought this was going to be rebuilding year and all the sudden boom, we pull it off at zones."
The Bears are travelling to Lethbridge for provincials next Thursday and Friday (June 7-8).
The team’s goal at provincials is a clear-cut answer.
“To win,” said Lily Capel.
For more, check out the June 6 edition of the Rocky Mountain Outlook.