By Thomas Becker
The hardest thing to do in sports is to win. But for St. FX's women's rugby coach, Mike Cavanagh, that's all he's done.
The rugby guru reached the century mark Friday afternoon after his team took down the UPEI Panthers 73-5 in the season opener.
Cavanagh was quick to talk game, rather than relish in his accomplishment.
"It's always nice to start the season off the way we did," he said. "Our offloading was very good today. We sometimes get in the habit of running into people and setting up, but we kept the ball alive today."
As they so often do, the X-Women struck first and rattled off a pair of trys—by Maddie Harroun and Hannah Ellis—nine minutes into the game to storm ahead 12-0.
The Panthers looked like they were headed for a try shortly after, as they were inches away from the try line, but St. FX's defence stood their ground and denied their opponent. The visitors then moved down the field where Alex Hamilton muscled her way to the team's third try.
"I thought our defensive structure was very good and we absorbed everything UPEI was throwing at us," Cavanagh said.
However, the Panthers capitalized on their next opportunity when Julia Freeburn offloaded the ball to Brinten Comeau, who raced down the final third of the field before passing it to Sophie Duguay for the score.
The steady X-Women countered with trys from Katie Pentz, Tashayla Tynes and Sam Lake to take a 32-5 halftime lead
Looking back at the opening half, Panthers head coach John LaBoyne said he liked what he saw from his squad, especially the compete level against a national powerhouse.
"Those first 30 minutes in the half were pretty impressive," he said. "We just ran out of steam in the end, but there was not one second of quit and that's what we're known for."
Against a battered, yet prideful Panther squad, St. FX attacked with ferocity in the second half. Lake was the catalyst for most of it, as the fifth-year prop scored three of their final seven trys on their way to the 73-5 win.
After the game, Cavanagh made a point to recognize the improvement of UPEI's rugby program and had high praise for the talented group of women.
"I think they're a legitimate top-10 team in the country and they're only getting better," he said. "It's going to be very interesting when they play Acadia."
LaBoyne was a bit taken aback by his peer's assessment, but was encouraged to know the program he's dedicated a lot of time into is on the right track.
"It's something to shoot for, but we're not there yet."
The Panthers travel to Acadia next where they will get their first crack at the aforementioned Axewomen for a 2 p.m. tilt on Sept. 14.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan