Might the UPEI Panthers beating the top-seeded Acadia Axewomen in today’s Atlantic university women’s rugby semifinal be considered a massive undertaking?
Um . . . yeah.
“Yes, a huge task,” said Shannon Atkins, Panthers women’s rugby head coach, whose team faces Acadia at noon at UPEI. “It would be a huge upset. Our main goal is to continue to put points on the board.”
If that sounds like concession for fourth-seeded Panthers and tournament host (2-6), keep in mind Acadia (7-1) thrashed UPEI 106-0 and 88-5 in two games this season.
And Acadia outscored its competition in the Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby conference 581-47.
The Huskies only loss came to rival juggernaut St. F.X., a 24-17 defeat last week at Acadia, which proved more costly after Acadia lost league-leading scorer Emilie Chiasson (20 trys, 37 conversions, 174 points) to a knee injury. Chiasson set a conference record for scoring this season, but is out for the tourney.
Atkins, though, isn’t buoyed by her absence. AUS numbers reveal three of Chiasson’s teammates are in the league’s top 10 in scoring.
“Acadia is still strong anyway,” said Atkins.
St. F.X. (7-1) is seeded second and faces third seed Saint Mary’s (4-4) at 2 p.m.
Saint Mary’s is led offensively by Argyle Shore native Jean Baker, who finished third in AUS scoring with 79 points.
The championship game is Sunday at 2 p.m. The winner goes to the national championship which starts Oct. 31 in Quebec City, Que.
Atkins’ players aren’t giving up without a fight, however, as captain and Souris native Marley MacInnis has goals for her team, too.
Maybe made more attainable after a close 15-14 loss to Saint Mary’s last week in Charlottetown.
“I just really want to give (Acadia) a tough game, technical play. Show the fans what we can do,” said the 22-year-old science and psychology graduate. “We’d like to get some points on the board. Play tough defence for sure. (The game versus Saint Mary’s) is motivation for us. We’re really working together (now).”
As for MacInnis, a third-year eight man, no Chiasson doesn’t mean much, either.
“(They’re) still a tough team,” said MacInnis.
Rookie prop-flanker Holly Jones, who is one of many young Panthers (19 of the 24 members are first or second year players), carries her own goals for the team into today’s semi.
Jones, a Riverview, N.B., native, was tied for third in team scoring with 15 points this season.
“We really need to hold our defensive line and not be pushed back. Hold our ground,” Jones, 19, said. “We definitely have to keep the points around 30 for a chance to win.”
First-year fullback Megan Thorpe led the Panthers in scoring with 35 points.
MVP – Emilie Chiasson, Acadia
Rookie of the year – Laura Klingenberg, Acadia
Student-athlete community service award – Vanessa Duffley, St. F.X.
Coach of the year – Matthew Durant, Acadia Axewomen
Front row – Riley Kitchin, Acadia, Tasha McKenzie, St. F.X., and Catharine MacKeigan, St. F.X.
Second row – Allison Jordan, Acadia, and Emma Taylor, St. F.X.
Back row – Jorie Rose, Saint Mary’s, a fourth year from Souris,
Janna Slevinski, Acadia, and Miranda Sample, St. F.X.
Scrum half – Emily Keen, UPEI, a first year from Marshfield.
Fly half – Emilie Chiasson, Acadia
Centre – Jean Baker, Saint Mary’s, a third year from Argyle Shore, and Vanessa Duffley, St. F.X.
Winger – Maddie MacKenzie, Acadia, and Lauren Agnew, St. F.X.
Fullback – Megan Thorpe, UPEI.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
A few numbers from the AUS women’s rugby season:
Most Wins: Acadia, St. F.X., 7.
Most Losses: St. Thomas, 8.
Most Points Scored: St. F.X., 616.
Least Points Scored: St. Thomas, 37.
Most Points Against: St. Thomas, 635.
Least Points Against: Acadia, 47.
Largest Win Margin: St. F.X. over UPEI 116-0.
Smallest Win Margin: Saint Mary’s over UPEI 15-14.
Most Trys: Emilie Chiasson, Acadia, 20.
Most Converts: Emilie Chiasson, Acadia, 37.
Most Points: Emilie Chiasson, Acadia, 174 (AUS record for one season).
On the web at www.atlanticuniversitysport.com.