Photo by CURavensRugby (Instagram)
MONTREAL – The Carleton Ravens women’s rugby team are RSEQ bronze medalists after a thrilling come from behind 26-24 overtime victory against the Université de Montréal Carabins.
After splitting the season series 1-1 momentum was up for grabs off the opening kick with both teams coming off losses in the RSEQ semi-finals. The two evenly matched teams battled back-and-forth throughout the first half before the Carabins would breakthrough with a try in the 32nd minute to take a 7-0 lead into the break.
Shortly after the break, the Ravens would respond as Vanessa Chiappetta (Rigaud, Ont.) and Joleen Mason (Belleville, Ont.) would chase down the Montreal fullback forcing a turnover deep inside the Carabins end. The turnover would set up a Lauryn Walker (Brampton, Ont.) try and successful Roberta Drummond (Belleville, Ont.) conversion to tie the game.
As time ticked on late in the game the Carabins would strike again, scoring a try and taking back a 14-7 lead with under ten minutes to play. The lead would not last long however as Chiappetta would recover her own chip and chase to score a vital try. After Drummond would complete her 18th conversion of the season the Ravens would for a twenty-minute overtime period.
With both games between the two teams having previously been won with 17 points the Carabins appeared to have given themselves a massive edge in the 6th minute of overtime with a try and conversion. Already leading by seven the Carabins would add a penalty kick extending their lead to 10 with under seven minutes left on the clock.
As time ticked down the Ravens would dig deep driving along the right flank leading to a Savanah Sketchley (Erin, Ont.) score along the touchline with only two minutes to play. Trailing 24-19 the Ravens would need some overtime magic if they were to overcome the remaining deficit.
As the game resumed and the clock ticked into stoppage time the Ravens would make history as co-captain Anastasia Bourka collected the ball at mid-field. The Ottawa native took off on a run, like something out of a Hollywood movie, breaking two tackles at the 35 yard-line and another at the 15 yard-line before cruising to the centre of the try zone, cutting the Carabins lead to one.
The perfectly placed try from Bourka would leave fellow captain Roberta Drummond with the straight-on kick to complete the comeback and secure the bronze medal.
Despite having to battle from behind all day, the Ravens’ first lead would prove to be the most important. Reflecting on the game, coach David Luong felt the team made things more difficult on themselves than they needed to. “It was one of those things where we didn’t do any favours for ourselves,” However difficult the Ravens did make it, they found a way. “For us, it was just digging deep and providing an answer and when we did lead it was at the final whistle.”
In a sense, facing the Carabins in a historic matchup like this was the perfect culmination to the Ravens’ tenth anniversary season. The Ravens wrap up 2021 on a high note finishing with a 7-2 record, an RSEQ Bronze medal and a plethora of gained experience. With key contributions from veterans and younger players coach Luong is proud of what his team has accomplished as he looks towards the future.
“For the younger players it gives them a bit of experience in that high pressure game, this experience is valuable and allows them to feel a big contribution towards the program which will get them excited towards the offseason.”
The Ravens will take some time to rest and recover while the U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship gets underway next week in Kingston, Ontario.