Cowichan’s Crew battles through to Sun Bowl final

Two out of three is still something to be proud of.

Hoping to win the Triple Crown of Women’s Football for a second year in a row, the Crew won the Cowichan Women’s Football League’s regular season and playoff titles, and made it to the finals of Sun Bowl XXIX last weekend where their quest finally came to an end as the Vancouver Chargers claimed the Pacific Northwest championship.

It was still a triumph for the Crew to get as far as they got despite facing adversity all season long.

"The Crew has amazing depth, and each and every player played an important role," said veteran Janelle Mould, who was playing in her final Sun Bowl. "We went through our share of injuries this year, but no excuses were made. Each member stepped up and filled new roles."

Jennie Hittinger stepped in at quarterback after longtime leader Jackie Harrison went down with a knee injury early in the season, and did an excellent job leading the offence through the CWFL season and playoffs. Kirstin Bains came through at Sun Bowl when the team needed her.

"She is such a pure athlete that you would never know that she took the regular season off," Mould said. "She gave us the ability to stretch the defence and take some of the attention off superstar speed girl Marilou Sullivan."

Mould and Alita Mattin led the way when the Crew was defending.

"Alita and I have developed such a cohesiveness and we really take pride in being a tough team to score on," Mould said. "We allowed only one point to be scored in round robin play."

Rookies Nicole Pugh and Kerynne Bain also played key roles for the Crew, while second-year Darby Aitchison continued to show improvement. Unfortunately, Pugh was lost to a knee injury in the Sun Bowl final.

"We have such a great balance between experienced and young players," Mould said. "As the Crew, we just expect to do well. I think that mindset has been instrumental

in our team’s successes. Of course we would have loved to win the Sun Bowl and were all a bit down but we played well, so we can’t be too upset with a second-place finish."

Another Cowichan team, the Blue Steel Brew, won the Almost Top Flight Division, while the Vancouver Sirens took the Grounded Division. Tania Ropata of the Chargers was named tournament MVP, the Country Muffins were named Most Sportsmanlike Team, and the Blue Steel claimed the Spirit Award, their Bachelor-themed costumes – complete with gowns, roses and champagne – edging out the Chargers’ Orange Is the New Black get-up.

Bains shared top offensive player honours with Lauren James of the Cowichan Ravens and Jennie Graham of Vancouver. The top defensive players were Cari Hiebert of Victoria and Ashley Petrie and Patti Liebold of Vancouver.

Sun Bowl also inaugurated a new sports facility in Duncan.

"The biggest part of the tournament was the first games on the new Rotary Park which is fantastic in every way, getting great reviews from everyone who played or saw it," organizer Chris Mann said.

Mann credited the success of Sun Bowl XXIX to the assistance of Cowichan Minor Football, the City of Duncan, the Jays slopitch team, the CWFL Teams and Thrifty Foods.