PK wins playoff thriller
Paul Kane rallies in fourth quarter to beat Harry Ainlay in Tuesday's metro Edmonton division two women's rugby final
Saturday, Jun 07, 2014 06:00 am
The will to win was greater than the fear of failure for the Paul Kane Blues in Tuesday's showdown for metro Edmonton rugby honours.
The lady Blues stared at deficits of 7-5 after the first quarter, 19-15 at halftime and 24-22 after three quarters without blinking en route to toppling the Harry Ainlay Titans 36-24 at Ellerslie Rugby Park.
“It was a beauty of a game, truly a gritty win,” marvelled Marty McKeever, Paul Kane’s long-time head coach. “I am very proud of the heart and determination in the face of adversity displayed by my girls. They truly deserve the title of champions.”
It's the first metro Edmonton high school banner since 2008 and the sixth in Paul Kane history in women's rugby.
“We really tried to pull through for the school so we had something for them to cheer about,” said Annie Boyd, co-captain and Grade 11 scrum-half for the 5-0-1 Blues. “I’m so proud of the girls. All of our hard effort all season long finally paid off. It was verification for all the days we did after school, all the hours we put into practice and all the time we spent as a team.”
The division two final brought out the best in the Blues, especially in the second half of the fourth quarter with two converted tries in the last seven minutes, five minutes of which was injury time, to secure the victory.
“It was very tension filled. We were full of adrenaline and excitement because the game was so close,” said Kayla Bruce, co-captain and Grade 12 eight-man. “The girls started to get really excited when we were in the lead and we were trying to tell them don’t get cocky, keep your head in it and dig deep for the next few minutes. We just had to focus on the game for a little bit longer.”
With 10 minutes remaining the Blues almost pulled ahead on a penalty kick but it fell short of the posts.
“When Annie called for us to kick for points everyone got their high spirits back and that gave us the motivation to score some tries,” Bruce said.
With Ainlay hanging, on the Blues cranked up the pressure and were rewarded for their determination and diligence.
“We truly out-gritted them and out-desired them to pull out the come-from-behind win,” McKeever said.
Tries in the decisive quarter were credited to Katryne Pharis, who also scored in the first quarter, and Ashley Barchuk.
“Once we were solidly in the lead they weren’t able to get back those points at the end. I think that was the only time we knew we had this going for us,” Boyd said.
The other try scorers were twins Emily and Kendall DeWitt and Sydney DeLaMare on a magnificent 85-yard scamper in the third quarter.
Barchuk and Emily DeWitt combined to convert three of the team’s six tries.
“It was so back and forth. I tried to keep telling the girls after each try it’s a zero-zero game and don’t focus on the score,” Bruce said. “The teams were pretty even in skill so it wasn’t an easy win.”
In pool A in league play Ainlay finished 3-0 and the Blues were 2-1 after losing 24-19 to the Titans on May 5.
“It was a really close game and we knew that we left points off the board,” Boyd said. “We knew this game was going to be a battle and we knew we had the skill to beat them and it was just so awesome to finally get that win out of it when they thought coming in they would have it.”
The 37-player roster was split down the middle with rookies – Pharis, DeLaMare and the DeWitt twins were among the Grade 10 standouts who racked up tries all season - and returnees from last year’s 1-4 premier conference (now division one) semifinal team.
“Our Grade 10s were really strong this year. Our rookies were really good,” said Boyd, 16. “With this group I think we really tried to focus on our skills than last year.”
Bruce, 18, was among a strong core of 11 Grade 12s that helped shaped the Blues into a cohesive unit.
“Everyone got along good and we really enjoyed playing with each other. There was just so much trust. If I made a run I knew that someone would be there to support me,” said the third-year player. “We were really a team and it showed in the final.”