House players return to StFX while National Championships return to East Coast
Members of the StFX Women’s rugby team have made their return to Antigonish after a long summer and off-season of hard work and preparation for the season to come. Training camp welcomed rookies and veterans alike from all areas of Canada, all with diverse experiences and skills to offer the team.
For the 2018 season, the X-Women welcomed many first-years and new faces from near and far that have competed at numerous levels of representative rugby. Other noteworthy additions to the team are the welcomed back fifth year players, Joanna Alphonso, Alison Blanchard, Danielle Cormier, and Olivia DeMerchant. DeMerchant represented Canada at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014.
A small exhibition tournament held in Truro marked the end of training camp, where players could showcase their rugby ability in shortened games against teams that are also part of Atlantic University Sport (AUS). These pre-season games were nothing short of successful for our X-Women. The women, separated into two teams, won their games with scores of 95-0 versus Saint Mary’s and 52-15 versus Acadia respectively.
Less than one week later, the X-Women rugby team hosted the Saint Mary’s squad for their home opener at Oland Stadium on September 7. Despite the team’s starting lineup having a large mix of new and returning players, there was no question that the ladies were working cohesively and intelligently on the pitch. Early tries were scored in the first half by Keeley MacCuish (3), Jacqui Salvatore (2), Sarah Hoerig (2), Meghan Buchanan (1), Olivia DeMerchant (1), Sam Lake (1), Lucy Killacky (1), Maddie Harroun (2), and Claudia Fulton (1). Fourth year, Jacqui Salvatore scored 3 conversions to add to the scoreboard before halftime.
The second half looked like a much different game, where the team slowed down its try scoring and geared its focus on more tactical work and defence; two aspects that will prove to be crucial farther into the season. First year, Maddie Harroun’s, second try was the only try scored by the X-Women in the second half, with two scored by Saint Mary’s. The game ended with a final score of 76-12.
“I think the team has a lot of depth this year and having three of our graduated players returning for a fifth year is really going to help us out.” Explained fourth year player Keeley MacCuish.
As Friday’s player of the game, she was happy to comment on the team’s hard work and performance. “As it was evident in our game last Friday, we have many first years who are able to step up and fill the shoes of some of our veteran players, and I think that will be key in the upcoming months. We really wanted to work on our defense in the second half of the game and I think it went pretty well considering it was our first time playing as a new team.”
The next game for the X-Women Rugby team will be at UPEI on Saturday, September 15 at 2pm. The team intends to continue to impress and improve throughout the season to stay on track to another AUS title and to ultimately compete for a 2018 national title. Nationals this year are especially significant as they will be held at Acadia University November 1 to November 5. This will be the first time that Nationals are held in the Atlantic region since 2012, when they were held and won by StFX on home soil.