Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Women claimed their 20th AUS championship banner with a 31-7 victory over the Acadia Axewomen in the Subway AUS championship game Friday night at StFX Oland Stadium.
In front of a crowd of close to 500 fans, the top two teams in Atlantic University Sport did not disappoint as they played an exciting, hard-fought match for the conference banner.
The X-Women scored 26 points in the second half of the game to take the win after a close 12-7 opening half.
With a defensive battle in the opening five minutes of the game, the X-Women continued to gain field position in Acadia territory and after knocking on the doorstep, they made the first score of the game as centre Meghan Buchanan (Lethbridge, AB) touched down eight minutes in.
The same continued StFX pressure by their offense resulted in their second try of the game ten minutes later when veteran No. 8 and AUS all-star Olivia DeMerchant (Bedell, NB) scored. The ensuing conversion by Danielle Franada (Grand Prairie, AB) gave the X-Women a 12-0 lead.
Gillian Bergsma (Delhi, ON) had a nice run for the Axewomen midway through the half, putting them within scoring position in StFX territory but Acadia turned the ball over. After regaining possession, the Axewomen had a several strong drives forward, including a couple runs by veteran fifth year AUS all-star Alysha Corrigan (Charlottetown, PE). The shift in momentum resulted in an Acadia try in the 28th minute. Nicole Pahl (Markham, ON) touched down for the Axewomen and Corrigan made good on the conversion to bring the visitors to within five points.
Acadia continued to find seams in the X-Women defense and strung together some key runs to challenge late in the opening half. StFX also got into some penalty trouble but they were able to hold them off until halftime and the 12-7 score in favour of the X-Women held after 40 minutes of play.
The Axewomen came out on a mission in the second half, picking up from where they left off to close out the first. But the X-Women were up for the task, resulting in exciting runs and big tackles from both teams early on.
Veteran fifth year winger Maddie MacKenzie (Peterborough, ON) was a threat to break through for the Axewomen, while StFX props Joanna Alphonso (Ajax, ON) and Sam Lake (Windsor, NS) were a force up the middle.
An Acadia penalty gave StFX a scrum from eight yards out and they capitalized as scrum half Alison Blanchard (Herring Cove, NS) got the ball to Carleigh Walters (Williams Lake, BC) who touched down in the corner to score the X-Women's third try of the night.
Four minutes later the X-Women were penalized as Blanchard received a yellow card and was sent off. Despite being short a player on the field, the X-Women kept up their pressure and scored in the 60th minute as Amelia Hatfield (Halifax, NS) touched down across the try line. Franada's second conversion of the night gave StFX a 24-7 lead.
Eight minutes later Hatfield scored again and with another Franada conversion, the X-Women took a commanding 31-7 lead with 12 minutes left to play. Lake rounded out the X-Women scoring in the 75th minute and Franada booted her fourth conversion of the night as the X-Women closed out the 38-7 victory.
For her efforts in the game, StFX third year center Meghan Buchanan earned Subway player of the game honours and was crowned the AUS championship MVP. Harley Tucker (Black Diamond, AB), a third year Axewomen played a solid game in the No. 8 position, earning her Subway player of the game honours for her squad.
Reflecting on the win Buchanan commented, "We worked hard - our forwards grinded it out the whole game and our backs connected well, we grinded out the win."
Both the X-Women and Axewomen already qualified for the U SPORTS national champions taking place November 1-4 in Wolfville, N.S., hosted at Acadia University.
The draw for the national championship will take place Saturday but the X-Women will enter in the No. 2 position as per pre-determined U SPORTS draw regulations based upon the conference finishes at the 2017 championship.
The U SPORTS quarterfinal matches will be played on Thursday, November 1st, followed by the semi-finals on Friday, consolation semi-finals on Saturday and the medal games on Sunday.
Courtesy StFX Sports Information
ACA 7-0: 7
StFX 12-26: 38
StFX – Meghan Buchanan try, 8th minute
StFX – Olivia DeMerchant try (Danielle Franada convert), 18th minute
ACA – Nicole Pahl try (Alysha Corrigan convert), 28th minute
StFX – Carleigh Walters try, 53rd minute
StFX – Amelia Hatfield try (Danielle Franada convert), 60th minute
StFX – Amelia Hatfield try (Danielle Franada convert), 68th minute
StFX – Sam Lake try (Danielle Franada convert), 75th minute
Subway Players of the Game
ACA: Harley Tucker (Black Diamond, AB)
StFX: Meghan Buchanan (Lethbridge, AB)