SOLID BATTLE - A group of Notre Dame High School Cougars takes down Paige Olmstead of the Hunting Hills Lightning during a match last Friday at the Collicutt Centre.

Notre Dame Cougars takes down Hunting Hills Lightning

The Notre Dame girl’s rugby team shut out the Hunting Hills Lightning on Friday afternoon with a final score 34-0.

The game was one of the last of the regular season for Zone 1 teams as the schools head into zone finals next week.

Following Friday’s win, the Cougars are on the road to Olds and Rimbey, but will return on Monday to face the Lightning again in the Zone 1 semi -finals with the winner moving on to face Lindsay Thurber on May 27th in the City finals.

The winner of Wednesday’s game will then move on to represent the central zone at the 4A Provincial Tournament on June 5th and 6th at Ellerslie Rugby Park in Edmonton.

Head Coach of the Cougars Ian Rattan said the win last Friday couldn’t have come at a better time for the girls adding he believes the strong season they’ve had came from the foundations built in their preseason.

With a good mixture of returning and new players, Rattan took to the road with the girls and ventured to Kamloops during their preseason in April where they played a weekend tournament.

“It was fun for the kids being able to play some bigger teams,” said Rattan. “With B.C. starting their season in the beginning of January it meant we got some really quality games in before the start of our regular season.

“We end up losing our last game at the end of the tournament to a team from Seattle who finished fourth in the entire U.S. last year and had a number of athletes who played on the Junior U.S. national team.”

He said this high level of playing set the stage for the team to gain the confidence in their skills and abilities early on.

A graduate of Notre Dame rugby himself, Rattan coached the team for a number of years after graduating and returned after finishing his education degree to teach and coach again at the school.

Over the years he has spent with rugby in Red Deer, Rattan said he has watched the league develop with the City teams growing continuously stronger and rural teams such as Rocky Mountain House joining their league as well.

“The teams seem to be rounding out a bit more as the years go on. Thurber is always quite good with Bill Bowd, who also coaches the women’s Titans team on the bench for the Raiders and Justin Pilgrim joining as the Hunting Hills coach – the competition is always increasing,” he said. “Rural teams like Lacombe and Rimbey always give us a run for our money as well.”

Although the competition is continuously increasing at the end of the day Rattan said as long as the girls are having fun then he’s happy as a coach.

“I just want to see us get better each day,” said Rattan. “Every game and every practice I watch the girls play better and better.

“If we are having fun and improving at the same time then that’s what it’s really all about.”

The Cougars will face the Lightning next Monday at 5 p.m. at the Titans Rugby Park with the boys’ teams to follow. The winner will go on to face Lindsay Thurber on Wednesday at 5 p.m. again at the Titans Park.

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