The Ursuline Lancers feel ready to continue their slow but steady climb at the OFSAA 'AAA-AAAA' girls rugby championship.
They debuted at the provincial tournament in 2010 with a 0-3 record, then went 1-2 in 2011 by winning a friendship game.
The Lancers were 1-2 again last year but celebrated a consolation-round win for the first time.
Coach Scott Morkin said the players' hopes are high for the tournament starting Monday in Waterloo.
“We would like to at least come home with a consolation championship or play on the championship side,” Morkin said.
The 14th-seeded Lancers play No. 3 Belleville Centennial in the first round at 10 a.m.
A win puts them in the championship quarter-finals. A loss drops them to the consolation bracket.
“They're optimistic,” Morkin said Sunday. “We've been getting better every single week. And with the work we've done this week, we're going to surprise some people.”
The Lancers qualified for the OFSAA tournament without a playoff win. Ursuline lost to Blenheim in the Kent final, then claimed the SWOSSAA 'AAA-AAAA' title when Petrolia Lambton Central chose not to play.
However, they've played this season in four tournaments and 22 games, more than ever before. That's helped the young team improve, Morkin said.
“We weren't a very good team in March,” he said. “Now we can play with anybody in the province.”
The Lancers' future is bright. They have 30 players in Grades 9 and 10, so many pulled double-duty with the junior and senior teams.
However, the squad does have OFSAA experience. Sydnee Nolan is at her fourth championship, while Gabby Desbiens, Julie Schinkel, Shania Van Herk, Courtney McAlorum and Bailey Walker are at their third.