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19 


SPORTS 


sporte@gate\vd>.ualttertaca * ihurstfeiy. 25 October. 20(1/ 


No nationals for silver-medal rugby team 



I'M OPEN, I'M OPEN! The Pandas (dark) beat UVic, but lost Canada West gold to Lethbridge last weekend in Victoria. 


ROBIN COU/JM 
Sports Editor 


It’s noi often that a team that suffers 
only one defeat in their entire season 
gets shut out from the national finals, 
but such is the case for the U of A's 
women's rugby team. 

The Pandas (3-0-0) lost only 
one game in their two-tournament 
season—the Canada West gold- 
medal match this Sunday against 
Lethbridge—but they’ll miss out on 
nationals. After sweeping the confer¬ 
ence seeding tournament at home 
earlier this year. Alberta ran all over 
hosts Victoria on Friday to put them 
in the gold-medal game, which they 
lost 3—0. Canada West only gets one 
spot at the rugby championships. 

"We're obviously disappointed in 
the final result,” Pandas head coach 
Matt Parrish said. 

Tills is only the second time in team 
history—but the second in a row— 
that the Pandas have failed to make it 
to nationals. That said, they’re happy 
with tlieir silver medal, a better result 
than last year's third-place finish. 

"There is the tradition there with 
the Pandas of success, and I think 
obviously [tlie players] were disap¬ 
pointed, but 1 don't think they' were as 
disappointed as last year, just because 
they played well this weekend and 
it wasn’t for lack of effort, or heart," 
Parrish said. "Some things just didn’t 
come off. and those things happen in 
every sport." 

After their previous success this 
season, the Canada West results came 
as a surprise to the Pandas. 

“I’d be lying if 1 said I wasn’t 
expecting to win," Parrish said. "1 
didn't expect it to be anything but a 
close game, but I thought we had a 
chance to win it.” 

Canada West gold used to be the 
norm for Alberta, who won the 
conference from the school's first 
year in the sport in 1999/00, to the 
2005/2006 season. But Parrish sees 


the end of that dynasty as a good 
thing for the sport overall. 

"I think what's happened is that 
CIS—and also in general women's 
rugby—has gotten better,” he said. 
"1 also think the quality of coaches in 
CIS has gotten better, so the standard's 
come up." 

The gold-medal game was an 
unusually low-sctoring affair, with the 
only points coming on a penalty from 
last year's CIS and Canada West Player 
of the Year Ashley Patzer. Parrish 
explained the low-offence game, by 
saying that he and Lethbridge coach 
Neil Langevin’s strategies essentially 
cancelled each other out. 

“We managed to nullify each other, 
and we just didn't quite know' how 
to respond to it," he said. "Our plan 
A didn't work, and we didn't respond 
well Tiiat’s not a reflection on the 
players; it's just a reflection on us as 
coaches. 

"We played well, but Lethbridge 
played a little better than us.” 

Alberta still emerged from the 
weekend with a slate of awards. 
Parrish was named Canada West 
Coach of the Year, Annika Eriksson 
was declared tournament MVP. and 
six Pandas were named to the con¬ 
ference All-Star team. Parrish wants 
his players to appreciate the honours, 
rather than dwell on the end of the 
season. 

"I hope the players take it as a little 
bit of acknowledgment of their hard 
work and play,” he said. "They were 
initially just disappointed, and just 
like, 'Oh. okay,' but I would hope that 
when they actually think about it in a 
month or so they sort of go, 'Well, it 
was nice to get recognized.'" 

Parrish is already looking ahead 
to next season. First of all, because 
I allbridge is hosting, Canada West 
will get two spots, but the Pandas will 
also be returning the majority of their 
players. 

"Wecan build off tilings rather than 
starting again, which will be nice.” 


Preseason prep for Basketbears 

Alberta will practice with their new players at the Golden Bear Invitational 


ben carter 

5porls Stalf 


For a team with high expectations 
this season, a visit from three top¬ 
flight Ontario programs should go a 
long way in determining the poten¬ 
tial of this Bears basketball squad. In 
their final games before beginning 
their Canada West season, the Bears 
host the Waterloo Warriors, York 
Lions, and Ottawa Gee Gees in this 
weekend's Golden Bear Invitational 
tournament. 

The event follows a weekend away 
in Victoria, where Alberta lieat UVic 
and Brandon but lost to the defending 
national champions Carleion. Bears 
coach Don Horwood is awaiting the 
challenge that this weekend's oppo¬ 
nents can pose for his team. 

“We need to play as good teams as 
possible so we get an idea of exactly 
how good we are and what we need to 
do to improve," he said. "All iluee of 
these teams are going to be a big test, 
but we feel Ottawa on Sanirday will be 
the biggest test for us this weekend.” 

The Gee Gees are currently ranked 


fourth in the country, while Waterloo 
and York have been successful for a 
number of seasons. The U of O was 
a national semi-finalist last season, 
eventually losing to Carleton. 

“They worked hard: 
they defended liard: 

I was very'pleasantly 
surprised with our 
effort last weekend. 

We think we have the 
whole package.” 

DONHORWOOD 

BEARS HEAD COACH 


Alberta only graduated two players 
last season, but those two players-— 
Tyson Jones and Scott Gordon—were 
a large part of the Bears team, and 
their roles need to be filled. So far. 
[hough, Horwood is seeing a lot of 
encouraging signs from his young 
team The Bears went 2—1 in last 
weekend's preseason tournament. 


and Horwood was greatly enthused 
by what he saw from his team. 

"Alex [Steele] and CG [Morrison] 
were consistendy our best players 
all game, [and] Andrew Parker had 
an outstanding, monster game on 
Sunday,” he said. 

"The guys surprised me. They 
worked hard; they defended hard; i 
was very pleasantly surprised with 
our effort last weekend. We think we 
have the whole package.” 

At this point in the pre-season. 
Horwood is more concerned with how 
his team plays and responds to gen¬ 
eral game situations and competition, 
rather than what die opposition shows 
them. But just because diey’re not look¬ 
ing out for particulars doesn't mean the 
Bears won’t be taking something away 
from this weekend's games. 

"Part of playing these games is 
learning how to play against different 
styles,” lie explained, "it's a matter of 
playing different teams and different 
styles and us having to adjust to those 
styles- That's what we try to do in the 
pre-season is to get used to that kind 
of basketball." 



FILE PHOTO: PETE YEE 

YOU MUST BE THIS TALL... The U of A will get practice with top CIS teams.