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Lions, Mustangs fall in opening round at OFSAA

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WATERLOO, Ont. — One team was there for the experience, the other thought it was there for a championship run.

Now the St. Mary’s Mustangs and the Grey Highlands Lions both have to regroup after dropping their opening games at the OFSAA A/AA senior girls rugby championships at the University of Waterloo’s Columbia Fields.

The young St. Mary’s squad learned a harsh lesson Monday in a 31-0 defeat at the hands of Clinton’s St. Anne’s Eagles.

“I hope (we) learned what it means to play support and to play fast because the ball was rarely sitting on the ground for long,” Mustangs’ coach Darcy Werger said. “When we did get the ball, there was a lot of uncertainty. A lot of standing and waiting. We videotaped that (game) so I’m putting that in my bag to watch.”

St. Anne’s is the defending OFSAA consolation champions and the deep squad of Grade 12s showed its experience on the first possession of the game, marching down the field for a try. It was 19-0 at the half but St. Mary’s played a stronger second, making several good runs before time expired.

“I didn’t think we didn’t play very well as a team but I think we came back in the second half and had a little more success,” said St. Mary’s veteran Laura Klingenberg, who was left off the final Canada under-20 roster when it was released Sunday. “We started to move the ball more . . . We were trying to do what we do best which is be a running team. We need to work more on our supporting lines and to work better as a team.”

“We knew they had a couple of strong players especially their fullback but we were able to play our game and dictate the play,” said Eagles’ coach Ryan Clancy. “We knew their strength was their back line so we got our (forwards) in quickly and we played good second phase defence. We’re ecstatic with how well the girls played.”

St. Mary’s will now face Toronto’s Blessed Mother Teresa in a consolation game at 11 a.m. today. Win or lose, the Mustangs will also play at 2 p.m.

The fourth-seeded Lions had hopes of playing for a medal on Wednesday, but the 13th-seeded Saint Michael’s Mustangs used a ferocious defence and timely tries to upset Grey Highlands 10-0.

“We were here five years ago in the same position where you come in with one goal and the first game changes that goal so we have to reset,” said Lions’ coach Chad VanderDuim, whose squad won the consolation final five years ago.

“They’re a good defensive team. As soon as we got inside their 22 (yard line) it’s like they became a different team. And we spent a lot of time inside their 22. We just didn’t have anything to show from it.”

Grey Highlands dominated territorially for most of this game, keeping the Mustangs pinned within their 22 yard line for much of the second half. But Saint Michaels’ strength was a dominant defence, which did not give the Lions runners any room to move.

“They had no weak links that we could take advantage of,” said Grey Highlands’ Justine Mayne. “We couldn’t get the momentum going our way. We need to not let that game stop us. It’s one game and some of us have a four-year rugby career to finish off here.”

“We attacked on defence instead of letting them attack us,” said Mustangs’ coach Kathy Carter. “If you let them come to you, you feel a lot more penetrated. If you shut them down, you put pressure on them and they feel obligated to get rid of the ball quicker. Our defence made a huge difference.”

Grey Highlands was to meet Streetsville at 10 a.m. today. A win has the Lions back in action at 1 p.m. while a loss sees Grey Highlands play a 2 p.m. friendly, potentially against St. Mary’s.

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