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“There’s a lot riding on this for us”

Fourth-year fullback Alysha Corrigan, left, of the UPEI Panthers women’s rugby team talks to the squad after practice on Thursday. UPEI and Acadia faceoff on Friday, at 6 p.m., in the AUS semifinal in Wolfville, N.S.
Charles Reid/The Guardian
Fourth-year fullback Alysha Corrigan, left, of the UPEI Panthers women’s rugby team talks to the squad after practice on Thursday. UPEI and Acadia faceoff on Friday, at 6 p.m., in the AUS semifinal in Wolfville, N.S. Charles Reid/The Guardian

UPEI women’s rugby face tough Acadia side in AUS semifinal Friday in Wolfville, N.S.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - There’s no dancing around it. The Acadia Axewomen will be one tough out in these Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby playoffs.

Amy Hickey, a fifth-year flanker, and her UPEI Panthers women’s rugby squad get it. But Hickey has an idea where to start if UPEI (2-4) wants to beat Acadia (4-2) in Friday’s semifinal.

“They’re a tough team. For me personally it comes down to effort. We have to outwork them. (And) yeah I think we can,” said Hickey, who had a team-leading six trys this season. “We’ve just got to make our hits. All strategy aside you have to be responsible for the person in front of you. Nothing complicated. Be responsible for your own hit.”

Not an easy task, however. Acadia outgunned UPEI twice this season by a combined score of 113-20 or an average beating of 56.5-10 per game. 

Hickey and company still rankle at last year’s 22-17 semi loss to Acadia. So beating Acadia Friday means more to the Summerville, N.B., native, than just redemption and winning a playoff game. It could be her last game as a Panther.

“Everything, it would be everything. I’m in my fifth year and it means a lot. We talked about it not just this season but last season, too. There’s a lot riding on this for us.”

Acadia lost twice this year to powerhouse St. FX, the defending AUS and national champ, by a combined 108-26 total. And St. FX (6-0) awaits Friday’s winner in next week’s AUS final. Those numbers place St. FX well above the crowd.

But the task at hand is Acadia and its spread-the-field attack paced by leading scorers Laura Pfleiderer (56 points) and Natasha Johnson (40). 

Fourth-year fullback Alysha Corrigan, whose 40 points topped the Panthers, said those must-make-tackles are key to push the Axewomen inside where the Panthers await especially early in the game when adrenaline is highest.

“The first 10 or 15 minutes we have to focus (on) staying calm and staying with the system… scoring first is our main goal, to turn the momentum to us,” said the Charlottetown native. “We want to make them do the things they don’t want to do. Make our hits and make them not want to get back up.”

The final is Friday Oct. 27, at 6 p.m., at St. FX.

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