By Mohammad Khosroshahi
BRAMPTON, Ont -- The glory of last year's perfect ending has carried over for the women's rugby sevens team, as the Humber Hawks started their regular season opener with a perfect three wins and zero losses. The reigning OCAA champions seem to be the early favourites to repeat given their impressive wins against Mohawk, Conestoga, and St. Lawrence on Saturday afternoon.
HAWKS 36, MOHAWK 0
The Hawks made a strong first impression with their performance in their opening game, winning 36-0 against the Mohawk Mountaineers. The game started with solid play from Humber's back line as second-year player Deandra Medford rushed in for a try to kick off the scoring for the Hawks. Afterwards, the game was followed by Christina Branch kicking a conversion, giving Humber the 7-0 lead in the early going. Branch was able to tack on five more points for the Hawks, scoring a try of her own, giving the Hawks a 12-0 lead heading into the half.
In the second half, Humber exploded for 24 points, mainly by the play of third-year player Vanessa Cifuentes, who scored back-to-back tries. Contributing to their lead, tries came from second-year player Daniella Grant, and third-year player Cheyenne De Luca. Christina Branch completed the game with three conversions and 11 points.
HAWKS 38, CONESTOGA 5
Humber's momentum continued in their second game versus the Conestoga Condors. The rematch of last year's OCAA Championship final was filled with more anticipation, as the Condors matched Humber's efforts with a dominant win in their opening game against St. Lawrence. In what was arguably Humber's most significant game of the day, the Hawks made a huge statement with a 38-5 win. Conestoga's Laralee Gadsby gave the Condors an early lead off of a try. Christina Branch quickly responded with a try and conversion to give the Hawks a 7-5 lead.
DeAndre Medford finished the game with two tries, and third-year player Ebony McCreath chipped in 5 points as well, but it was Branch's dominant play that stood out the most. Branch, a staple in games against the Condors, finished with 23 points in total (three tries, four conversions), allowing the Hawks to pick up their second win of the day.
HAWKS 34, ST. LAWRENCE-K 5
The Hawks faced the St. Lawrence Vikings for the last game of the afternoon. The Vikings were placed in a tough position as they played more games than any team throughout the afternoon (four in total). Despite their best efforts in a gruelling match, the Hawks won 34-5.
Christina Branch tallied four points in the match with two conversions; she finished with a total of 38 points throughout the day. DeAndre Medford had another stat-line involving a pair of tries; she had 10 points in the game (25 points in three games). Cheyenne De Luca also got a try in the match (her second try that day). Though the consistency was there from the Hawks' core group, it was Isabella Gbekie whose performance stood out the most. Gbekie finished the game with three tries (15 points), all scored in the second half of the match.
Humber heads to Kingston next Saturday, September 23 for its second tournament of the OCAA varsity season.