By Larry Moko
The Bishop Ryan Celtics had the distinction of capturing their first-ever championship in girls’ high school rugby last season.
And Tuesday, they made it two in a row.
“Hopefully we can build this up to a dynasty,” Celtics coach Kyle Smith said after Bishop Ryan took the 2019 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic title with a 27-12 victory over the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves.
Celtic tries were scored by Mackenzie Maludzinski, Alyssa Evans, Olivia Cracehiola, Marvelous Umelo and Jadie Montero. Maludzinski also chipped in with a conversion.
Brebeuf, which trailed 10-7 at the half, replied with tries by Angela Okeke and Serena Tsikuna plus a conversion by Brittany Hutchinson.
“Last year we knocked off Cathedral, one of the teams that has always been strong,” Smith said. “And this year we can talk about back-to-back championships. So both were good accomplishments. This was just as sweet.”
Both teams advance to the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference AAA championship against Halton opponents.
Earlier this month, Brebeuf rallied from an early deficit to defeat Bishop Ryan, 26-25, and earn home field for the championship-game rematch. Said Smith: “We used that loss as motivation. That was really one of the deciding factors today. This time, we made sure we kept the tempo up.”
The Braves had a streak of three-consecutive HWCAA titles from 2013 to 2015. The girls’ rugby league began in 2011.
“We started this game off strong,” Brebeuf coach Laura Bereza said. “Bishop Ryan is a physically stronger team and it has a little more experience than us. We have 24 girls on the team and only eight of them had ever touched a rugby ball before the start of this season. It was definitely a learning year for us.
“We pulled together very well as a team. We’re proud of how our girls played today.”
According to the Bishop Ryan coach, Grade 11 student Maludzinski, Montero and Umelo played key roles in the win.
“Mackenzie was all over the field making big plays,” he said. “Jadie and Marvelous made some nice runs.”
Smith said he likes Maludzinski’s competitiveness.
“It’s in the blood,” Smith said. “Her sister Cameron has got it, to. Originally, my starting Number 8, who was one of my best players, went down. Mackenzie stepped up no questions asked. She’s one of the best 8s I’ve seen in years.”
Mackenzie attributed the victory to good communication among teammates and understanding where they were on the field.
“I love playing with my friends in a team game,” Maludzinski said.