The UNB Ironmaidens women’s rugby team won an ACAA championship in their first season back in the league.
UNB downed the St. Thomas University Tommies 14-5 in the ACAA championship on Nov. 2.
“That was incredibly exciting for us,” Ironmaidens’ assistant coach Kieran Miller said. “For the past several years, we played in a club league and struggled with numbers and a team vision, so joining the ACAA gave the team legitimacy and direction.”
Miller said UNB’s only regular season losses came against STU, so the Ironmaidens knew the Tommies were the team to beat.
The Ironmaidens finished second in the ACAA with a 6-2-0 record, while STU placed first. The Tommies’ regular season record was 7-0-1.
As for the Ironmaidens’ return to the ACAA, Miller said it also helped the team recruit solid players.
“There was only a small group of returning players, so we knew recruitment would be important this year,” she said. “Working with what was basically a brand new team and a new league were big challenges and, as coaches, we weren’t sure how we were going to do it.”
Therefore, Miller said, it was a huge achievement for UNB just to make the final.
“Winning the match was beyond thrilling,” she said.
Miller said UNB accomplished this as a young team, where an estimated two-thirds of the roster consisted of recruits.
“There was a lot of pressure on our rookies to step up both on and off the field,” she said. “They were outstanding.”
However, Miller only took credit for the coaches’ duties of running practices and overseeing the team’s administration.
“The players are the ones taking hits on the field, balancing practice and school work and paying team costs,” she said. “UNB should be incredibly proud of their performance on and off the field this season.”
Miller praised Kirby Morrill, Fran MacWilliam, Gina O’Rourke and Taylor Morgan in particular for being recognized by the ACAA and named to the all-star team.
“Two other players that stood out this season were Julija Rans and Maria Muse,” she said. “Julija was responsible for all of our convert and penalty kicks this season and played a key role in the back line.”
“Maria came to us as a back, but we moved her to flank, and she excelled in the new position.”