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F.P. Walshe Flyers win provincial rugby bronze

ANDREW WALMSLEY – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR

On Friday and Saturday the F.P. Walshe Flyers travelled to Calgary to participate in the high school provincial rugby tournament.
The Flyers were entering the tournament as the top seed after missing out on the provincial tournament for the first time ever last season.
They knew it was going to be a very difficult tournament, though, as all the teams there were evenly matched.
The Flyers first game on Friday was against Charles Spencer high school from Grand Prairie.
Charles Spencer had a much larger team than the Flyers, and the Flyers knew they would need to use their speed and athleticism to prevail.
The Flyers started quickly when Sofia Hoff scored two minutes into the game, after some solid possession rugby by the Flyers. Alysia Medema continued her torrid kicking pace, and made the conversion, staking the Flyers to a 7-0 lead.
Charles Spencer proved to be a plucky opponent as they battled hard for the whole game, but ultimately the Flyers proved to be too good, winning by a score of 42-5.
Hoff had two tries in the game, while single tries were scored by Sidney Wolff, Cassie Delver, Alysia Medema and Manja Holwerda. Medema made good on all six converts.
The win set up a semifinal match against Sturgeon Composite high school, who had narrowly lost out in the final of the Edmonton city championships and defeated a strong Red Deer rep in their first game of provincials.
The Flyers knew they were going to be in tough. The game started poorly for the Flyers as a defensive lapse allowed Sturgeon an early try.
The Flyers battled hard and fought their way deep into the Sturgeon half. Unfortunately an intercepted pass returned for a try gave Sturgeon a 14-0 lead.
Although the Flyers battled hard and never gave up they fell 33-14 and were relegated to the bronze medal game.
Tries were scored by Alysia Medema and Grace Boutland. Medema was perfect on both converts.
In the bronze medal match the Flyers came up against an old foe in Winston Churchill high school from Lethbridge.
The Flyers had eked out a 12-10 win over the Griffins in the zone final a few days earlier, so both teams were expecting a tightly fought battle.
The Flyers jumped out to an early 5-0 lead when Sofia Hoff quick-tapped a penalty and offloaded to an open Alysia Medema. Medema sprinted down the sideline and touched down in the corner, just two minutes into the game.
Three minutes later great defensive pressure from the Flyers caused Churchill to fumble the ball back into their own end zone. Shelby Heninger made a heads-up play and touched the ball down for a try. Medema’s convert made the score 12-0.
The Griffins never gave up, though. They marched the ball down the field to score a try of their own and close the gap to 12-7.
The highlight reel play of the first half happened in the dying seconds as Tess Luther freed an arm in contact and made a spectacular one hand around the back offload to Alysia Medema. Medema turned on the gas and out-sprinted the Bulldog defense to the try line. Her convert gave the Flyers a 19-7 halftime lead.
The second half of the game was a back and forth affair, with both teams creating scoring chances.
Churchill outscored the Flyers 19-18 in the half, but Walshe hung on for an exciting 37-26 victory.
Shelby Heninger and Raelee Day Chief both scored tries in the second half and Medema added a convert and a penalty kick to run her game total to an impressive 22 points.

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