The F.P. Walshe Flyers are the Tier 2 high school girls provincial rugby champions.
The Flyers edged Winston Churchill Griffins 26-24 Saturday in the championship match of the tournament at Calgary.
The win over the Bulldogs completed a three-game sweep of the provincial tournament.
The Flyers opened the weekend Friday with a 25-0 win over Cold Lake.
Shannon Chisholm scored two tries for F.P. Walshe and Sam Bassett, Nicole Quinlan and Sienna Hoff each had one.
“This was a lot tougher game than I expected,” Flyers coach Andrew Walmsley said. “Cold Lake was a team we would beat very easily four or five years ago. They have made great strides over the last few years and have really embraced the sport of rugby. They tackled well and we had to play well to win.
The Cold Lake team’s sportsmanship impressed the Flyers. The Cold Lake players visited with the Fort Macleod girls after the game and their coach awarded one of their T-shirts to the Flyers Nicole Quinlan as player of the game.
The victory over Cold Lake propelled the Flyers into the semifinals, where they met Strathmore.
“We knew this would be a tough game,” Walmsley said. “Strathmore is well coached and was hosting the tournament. Our girls played a great game, especially defensively.”
Strathmore pressed early in the game but the Flyers were able to repel the attack and then scored two tries to take the lead on the way to a 33-7 win.
“Defensively we never let them into the game and their only score came on the last play of the game,” Walmsley said.
Nicole Quinlan scored two tries and booted four converts for an 18-point game.
Sam Bassett scored two tries and Heather Donahue had one.
The Flyers advanced to the tournament championship game against Winston Churchill Griffins.
Winston Churchill reached the finals by beating Rimbey 42-10 and Springbank 20-7.
The Griffins opened the scoring but the Flyers replied with three tries to lead 19-5 at halftime.
The Flyers scored again early in the second half to increase their lead to 26-5 and appeared well on their way to a provincial title.
“We nearly let this game slip away from us,” said Walmsley, who watched his team take its foot off the gas after building the commanding lead. “We played like we were protecting a lead instead of trying to keep adding points.”
The Griffins fought back into the game, scoring three tries to narrow F.P. Walshe’s lead to 26-24 with seven minutes to play.
“We were able to control territory and possession for the last seven minutes and were parked in their end until the clock ran out,” Walmsley said. “Interestingly, our girls thought the game was tied at the end and were trying to create another score. There was a lot of shock and surprise when they found out they had won.”
Nicole Quinlan scored a try and converted three others for 11 points, Sam Bassett had a pair of tries and Cheyenne Hofer had one.
The Flyers and Griffins found themselves caught in a moment after the game that typifies the spirit of rugby.
The Winston Churchill players were sitting in a circle listening to their coaches as the Flyers walked by on their way to the medal ceremony.
“As we walked past our girls just sort of veered over to them and the two teams spent a couple of very sincere minutes talking to each other and hugging each other and just recognizing that they had played a memorable final game,” Walmsley said.