The Fraser Valley senior girls rugby championship game was costly for the Semiahmoo Totems in more ways than one last Thursday.
For starters, the Totems lost the game – and the Fraser Valley banner – to their Abbotsford rival Yale Lions, 26-7, but they also suffered a handful of significant injuries which will hamper their chances at provincials in two weeks.
And no injury was more debilitating to the South Surrey squad than the one suffered by captain Hera Sfikas, who broke her collarbone when someone fell on her.
“She was on the ground and somebody just landed on her. It was a pretty costly loss,” said Semiahmoo’s Frank Ellestad, who co-coaches the team with Dave Kaye.
“We had a couple other injuries, too. A few shoulder injuries, and one girl in our back row is out with a concussion – longterm things.”
Ellestad chalked up the loss – and, perhaps, the injuries – to the fact that the Lions are an older, much bigger team than the Totems, whose roster is made up largely of Grade 11 players and has just one Grade 12 starter.
“Yale’s size and their age really showed, no question about it. They’re just bigger and stronger,” he said.
After finishing second in the Valley, Semiahmoo will head into the senior AAA girls provincial championships as a likely No. 3 seed. Four teams from the Fraser Valley – Semi, Yale plus Earl Marriott and Elgin Park secondaries – have qualified for the tournament, which is schedule for May 21-23 at Capilano University in North Vancouver.
Also on Thursday afternoon, Earl Marriott edged their crosstown rivals from Elgin Park by the narrowest of margins, winning the Fraser Valley third-place game 21-20.
Elgin Park got off to the better start in the game, pinning Marriott deep on their own side of the field in the opening minutes and eventually taking a 10-0 lead on a pair of tries.
Marriott battled back late in the first half, however, and scored on the last play before the break, which “was a real boost for the girls going into halftime,” according to EMS coach Melissa Seselja.
The second half was evenly played, with each side scoring two tries. But the difference was in the kicking game. Marriott’s Marya Kemp – who Seselja said is a first-time goal kicker – made all of her conversions, for six points.
“It just came down to who made the goals in the end,” Seselja said. “Thankfully, none of (Elgin’s) conversions were made.”
Like Semiahmoo in the first-place game, Seselja said her side was also dealing with injuries, “just like most rugby teams.”
She credited her players’ resilience and her versatility for overcoming the injury bug.
“We are so lucky to have players like Lia Collosaco and Steph Renkers who are able to fill in at (different) positions,” Seselja said. “Versatile players were a key part to our success.”
Fresh off a trip to Japan for the Sanix World Rugby Youth Tournament – the team arrived back home last week – Earl Marriott’s senior boys team will battle a familiar rival Wednesday for the Fraser Valley title.
Wednesday at 5 p.m., EMS will square off against the Yale Lions for the banner. The two schools are plenty familiar with one another, even as the players change, having squared off in Fraser Valley finals every year from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2013, with EMS winning each time.
Last year, EMS lost to Robert Bateman Secondary in the Valley final.
In Japan, EMS – the lone Canadian entry – finished 16th, in a field that including world-renowned rugby programs from South Africa, New Zealand, England, Australia and Japan.