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LCI Clippers defeat Raymond to win rugby provincial title

By Garrett Simmons 
Lethbridge School Division Communications 

The Lethbridge Collegiate Clippers defeated a familiar foe in the championship game at the 2024 Alberta Schools Athletic Association Rugby 15s Provincials. 
LCI met up with Raymond in the Tier 1 final and emerged with a 19-10 win to take gold. 
The win in the final over the Comets wrapped up a hugely successful season for the Clippers, as the team also upended Raymond in the zone final a week before. 
“We went into final having beaten Raymond two of the three previous games, so there was a lot of confidence mixed with a healthy level of respect since that Raymond loss was our only loss of the season, in a tournament, and we knew they would be out for revenge,” said LCI coach Samantha Wright. 
But LCI was ready for the challenge, and took home gold on the biggest provincial stage in Red Deer. 
“It didn't matter what Raymond threw at us,” said Wright. “We were focused on our game. We took away space defensively and forced them to make mistakes.” 
The win wasn’t without its challenges, however, as the Clippers had a to make a number of difficult lineup decisions throughout the tournament.  
“We had some tough injuries, so we had players stepping up into positions they didn't have a ton of experience with as well as girls playing not at 100 per cent, but everyone played their role,” said the coach. 
Every did indeed played their role almost flawlessly through the first two games in Red Deer, as LCI opened with a 42-0 win over All Saints and then advanced to the final with a 30-0 win over Bert Church. 
“We went undefeated and hadn't been scored on at provincials going into the final, whereas Raymond had two tight games leading to the final,” said Wright. “The argument of rest versus experience was certainly top of mind for coaching staff but luckily, we knew what to expect from Raymond with this being our fourth meeting of the season.” 
The final started off just how LCI drew it up, as the Clippers came out firing.  
“It was a great start to game putting up 19 points in the first half with tries from Madi Kutsch, Emma Boehme and Charlee Tanner,” said Wright, who added LCI also had conversion kicks from Dansia Zopoula and Victoria Morley. “We spent the second half holding onto the lead and playing very tough defence against a desperate opposition.” 
Raymond managed to score two tries in the second half but LCI’s defense shut the Comets down and prevented a late-game comeback. 
The provincial championship was the icing on the cake for a season where LCI was 10-0 in league play with 479 points for and 40 points against. The Clippers racked up seven league all-stars nods, as Kami de Jong, Payton Shields, Tylee Walburger, Madi Kutsch, Sloane Hirsche, Katelyn Lowry and Charlee Tanner earned the league honours.  
The league MVP winner was Madi Kutsch.