By Darren Lum
Getting shut out and losing by double digits to the visiting I.E. Weldon Wildcats is not a result the Red Hawks set out to achieve, but Haliburton is looking at focusing on the positives.
It was an obvious improvement from the home opener, as the red and white tackled better and mounted threatening scoring drives with sustained runs on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the Gary G. Brohman Athletic Field in Haliburton.
The final score didn’t look like an improvement from a week before, but the Red Hawks varsity girls’ rugby team showed improvement.
Like every game, Hawks head coach Carson MacDonald and the team see every game as an opportunity to learn.
“It was a good learning experience. We’re taking positives from the game,” he said.
Unlike last week when one player received a red card and was ejected, and another for a yellow card for infractions, the Hawks managed to play a cleaner game and improved in most areas.
The positives included better passing, hitting and positioning.
With the team for five years, two as a head coach and one as an assistant, MacDonald credited the opponents for being accommodating when it came to the Hawks inability to field a full 15 player roster.
“They matched our numbers. We were short one player,” he said, referring to how the team was missing four players away on a field trip.
These were “key players,” he said, that factored into the game. A pair of them are skilled kickers, crucial to advancing the ball or defending deep in their own end.
The Hawks lost another player during the final minutes of the game and the Wildcats accommodated.
“We dropped down to 13 and they matched us again. So, that was really nice of them,” he said.
He adds the referee for the game, who provided advice and instruction to the fledgling ruggers in addition to officiating, was a big help.
After three years, senior Julia McEathron moved from the scrumhalf position to a back position. MacDonald said with her leaving next year they needed to give another player an opportunity to learn and play the position.
Cassidy Glecoff, who is a first-year player, assumed the position and displayed strong instincts and played well without the ball, completing tackles or slowing opponents down.
“She did a pretty good job today,” he said.
While Glecoff is looking like a raw talent, McEathron is solidifying the backend on defence and offence with her toughness and grit.
The coach appreciates how the younger players are getting support from the team’s veterans and captains such as Carmen Galea and Morgan Sherlock.
Both players played hard and were involved regularly on both sides of the ball.
The future looks bright for this team and the program.
As far as he knows there is just one senior player who won’t be returning so the majority of players next year will be experienced and just better.
This season the players are far more motivated to advance the program and to even play outside the high school season than other years.
“They’re a lot more motivated to build the program. A lot of the girls want to build the program. Whereas last year they were out to learn. This year they are, ‘Let’s get more girls out and play harder.’”