After ending Day One of the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens tournament with a third-place finish in their four-team pool, the Ontario Junior Storm entered the final day of competition with an added sense of resolve and vigour; the girls still had an opportunity to leave Nevada with some silverware, and aimed to do so by taking part in the tournament’s Bowl round on Day Two of the competition.
The young ladies from Ontario began the day brightly, combining explosive offense and calm defence to ease to victory in their Bowl quarterfinal. However, the tournament would end in heartbreak for the Junior Storm, with Ontario falling in the Bowl semifinal after giving up a late try to their American opposition.
Ontario Jr. Storm 34 v. 0 Edmonton Gold
Determined to learn from their mistakes from Day One of the tournament, the Junior Storm came flying out of the gates on Friday. While taking on Edmonton Gold, the fourth-place finishers in their respective pool, the Junior Storm vastly improved upon their ball possession and defensive lines from Thursday, refusing to allow the Albertans an inch of space.
Charlotte Kates scored Ontario’s first two tries of the match, while Thursday standout Julia Schell added a third try late in the first half, giving the Junior Storm a 15-0 lead at halftime.
As the second half began, the girls refused to take their feet off the gas pedal, with Megan Pakulis, Quin Matheson and Angela Godfrey all scoring impressive team tries in the frame. Pakulis and Godfrey both added conversions, taking Ontario’s lead to 34-0 as the final whistle blew.
ICEF 17 v. 12 Ontario Jr. Storm
Buoyed by their dominant play in their early morning match, the Junior Storm entered their Bowl semifinal brimming with confidence. The girls knew they had their work cut out for them; their Los Angeles-based opponents, the Inner City Education Foundation, were the winners of the High School Girls division in last year’s tournament.
ICEF drew first blood in the semifinal, scoring an early try to jump to a 7-0 lead, though the American side’s lead would be short-lived; Ontario immediately responded with a try of their own, as Pakulis touched down underneath the posts and converted her own try to bring the score to 7-7. The remainder of the first half would be a back-and-forth affair, with neither team dictating the pace of play. The score remained tied by halftime.
In the second half, ICEF once again got out to a fast start, with a speedy winger scoring a try in the corner to restore their lead, 12-7. But again, Ontario would not back down, as Schell dodged three tackles en route to scoring her second try of the morning.
With the score tied 12-12, and time winding down on the clock, ICEF broke Ontario’s defensive line late in the second half, scoring a try to bring their lead to 17-12. The Junior Storm had one last chance to score from the kickoff, but a controversial knock-on call against Ontario ended the opportunity to bring the scoreline level. The final whistle soon arrived, marking the end to both the match, and the tournament, for the Junior Storm.
Despite not having the opportunity to play for the Bowl title, Junior Storm head coach Brooke Hilditch was extremely proud of her team’s play.
“I thought our girls put in an outstanding performance today,” said Hilditch. “The girls built on their win from yesterday, and showed great growth by improving in each and every game they played throughout the competition.”
Hilditch noted the high level of competition at the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens tournament, and that the experience gained by her team will only help to improve their skills moving forward.
“All the members of the Junior Storm will return home with their heads held high,” she added. “We played against some of the best teams and best young rugby players in North America, and we certainly learned a lot from playing against teams that have such high skill.”
“In the end, the girls left it all on the pitch, and they have a lot to be proud of.”
For more information regarding the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens, please visit: http://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/las-vegas-invitational/
Ontario U18 Jr. Storm 7s Pool Schedule for Las Vegas Invitational Sevens:
8:00am PST / 11:00am EST: Atlantis 29 v. 7 Ontario Jr. Storm (Jan. 23)
11:00am PST / 2:00pm EST: British Columbia 29 v. 0 Ontario Jr. Storm (Jan. 23)
1:40pm PST / 4:40pm EST: Ontario Jr. Storm 39 v. 0 Swarm (Jan. 23)
9:00am PST / 12:00pm EST Bowl Quarterfinal: Ontario Jr. Storm 34 v. 0 Edmonton Gold (Jan. 24)
11:40am PST / 2:40pm EST Bowl Semifinal: ICEF 17 v. 12 Ontario Jr. Storm (Jan. 24)
Ontario U18 Jr. Storm 7s Squad for New York Sevens:
Kara Gani (Balmy Beach)
Angela Godfrey (Cobourg Saxons)
Sienna Gulino (Yeomen Lions)
Julia Hockin (Brantford Harlequins)
Mikhaila Irving (Markham Irish)
Charlotte Kates (Niagara Wasps)
Quin Matheson (Yeomen Lions)
Pippi Mckay (Balmy Beach)
Eleta Mitton (Norfolk County RFC)
Megan Pakulis (Toronto Saracens)
Julia Schell (Oshawa Vikings)
Marta Walfisz (Oshawa Vikings)
Head Coach – Brooke Hilditch
Manager – Lisa Newton
Athletic Therapist – Karen Chrobak
About Rugby Ontario:
Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to promote, govern, and develop rugby at all levels in a safe, affordable and enjoyable environment within the province of Ontario.
For more information, visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/
About Rugby Ontario’s Junior Provincial Sevens Program:
The Rugby Ontario junior provincial sevens program is designed to help develop the skills of young rugby players in the province of Ontario, with of goal of setting these athletes on the pathway to identification for Canadian national team representation.
For more information, please contact:
Office: 416 426-7049
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