Undefeated tournament sends Vikes to first national title in program history
The University of Victoria Vikes women's rugby team earned the first Canadian University Sevens title in program history on Saturday night, defeating the UBC Thunderbirds 24-0 in the final to win gold.
"It was amazing," said third year Jess Neilson. "The whole weekend we just kind of took it game-by-game and didn't think too much about the big picture. We knew UBC would come out with a fight and we just executed our game plan."
The Vikes left little doubt of their ability to win all weekend, outscoring their opponents 108-5 on Day 1 before downing Guelph and McMaster, two of the top teams in the country, in the quarter-finals and semifinals by a combined score of 65-10.
"It was an excellent tournament for the girls," said head coach Brittany Waters. "They had a strong performance in every game and just kept getting better. I think they really showed what they're capable of this tournament which is nice.
"One through 12 played so well. Everyone had such an excellent tournament and it was a real team effort."
Two of the teams that Victoria had to go through to make it to the finals were teams that they had had trouble with already this season: the Calgary Dinos, who edged them out for the Canada West Fifteens and Sevens tiles, and the Guelph Gryphons, who knocked them into the consolation bracket in the 2016 U SPORTS Championship.
The Vikes dispatched of both teams with little trouble, beating the Dinos 19-5 to open the tournament before defeating the Gryphons 38-5 in the quarter-finals.
"We were definitely looking for redemption (against Guelph in the quarter-finals) and had an excellent game against them," said Waters. "It sort of propelled us for the rest of the day so we were pretty excited about that."
"Having Guelph this morning, which seems like a day ago, it was really nice to get revenge for that November loss," added Neilson. "Same with Calgary ... we just wanted to put it in our own hands and nobody else's."
Madeleine Graham and Gabrielle Senft shared the scoring lead for the Vikes, each putting up seven tries for 35 points. Neilson had two tries and 11 converts to close out the event with 32 points while Second Team All-Canadian Julia Folk had 20 points on four tries.
Gurpreet Dhaliwal, Pam Buisa and Kara Galbraith also scored in double-digits for the Vikes, putting up 17, 15 and 14 points, respectively. Their performances helped highlight the impressive amount of depth that UVic brought to the tournament.