By Emilie Medland-Marchen, September 24 2015 —
The Dinos women’s rugby team battled through a tough match with the University of Alberta Pandas on Sept. 20, finishing with a 34–19 victory.
The Dinos set the tone early in the first half of the game when All-Canadian Dinos prop DaLeaka Menin scored a try and conversion in the first 20 minutes, putting the Dinos up 7–0.
The Dinos’ aggression and defensive skill matched up well against the Pandas’ speed. While the U of A came close, it was the Dinos who ultimately managed to push through and execute at a higher level.
The Dinos extended their lead to 14–5 early in the second half of the game. The Pandas pushed back with a breakaway soon after, but were forcibly shut down by a few hard tackles.
With 15 minutes left in the match, Dinos captain Natasha Loucks stepped up with a key try to increase the University of Calgary’s lead to 24–12. The Pandas managed to take control of the ball to score another try, but two impressive plays from the Dinos’ Elysa Sandron — last year’s Canada West rookie of the year — sealed the victory for U of C in their first match of the season.
Dinos head coach Simon Chi believes the team’s focus leading up to the match was key to their success.
“We went in with a game plan,” Chi said after the win. “Obviously it was something we built from day one and that we stuck with. It was a bit different than what we’ve done in the past. Our biggest Achilles heel in the past few years was that we’d always start very slow. The focus today was to come out really hard physically and we were rewarded for that.”
The Dinos relished the victory, as it was the Pandas who eliminated them from the playoffs last season. While U of A kept the match close, the Dinos trusted in their strategy and continued to push forward.
“I just came out here wanting to do my best for the team,” Sandron said. “I knew if I kept my spirit up and did everything I could, the team would pull through together and be able to do it.”
Sandron’s performance accounted for the majority of the Dinos’ 34 points, and her combination of strength and speed overpowered the Pandas’ defence.
“I like to lead by example,” Sandron said. “I know that if I bring my game up, my teammates are going to want to do the same. I just give it all I’ve got and hope they can do the same.”
The Dinos now look ahead to a two-game road trip that will see them line up against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Sept. 25 and the University of Victoria Vikes on Sept. 27. The team returns home to face the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. at U of C’s Field 7.