Historic title within reach

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

It will be deja vu all over again in Virden this morning and possibly once more tonight.

And one side will be hoping for the same result while the other will be determined to exact revenge at the Target Junior Women's Provincial Championship.

Both St. Vital's defending champion Calleen Neufeld and Pembina's Kaitlyn Lawes advanced to the Page playoff 1-vs-1 game at nine this morning after finishing atop their respective pools with unblemished 7-0 marks. Neufeld beat Lawes in last year's final.

"That's fine by me," Neufeld said of the rematch over the phone from Virden after defeating Kaileigh Strath of Souris 9-6 yesterday morning.

"Being unbeaten builds more confidence, and we keep improving every game we've played in. We had already clinched first before this game, so this one was just to keep rolling and to keep getting better."

Neufeld, 20, can become the first to skip a junior women's squad to three straight crowns since Patti Vande (now Wuthrich) did it exactly 30 years ago.

"That would be amazing," said Neufeld, still supported by third Sabrina Neufeld (no relation) and second Laryssa Grenkow, with Breanne Meakin replacing the graduated Lindsay Eadie at lead. "It would be a great way to end my junior curling career by getting back to the nationals."

SEASON SERIES EVEN

Neufeld finished second at last year's Canadian championship.

But Neufeld will have to get by Lawes first.

"We're really excited to play against them," Lawes said after beating Assiniboine Memorial's Michelle Montford 7-3. "We always play good games against each other. They always shoot the lights out, and we'll have to do the same."

The teams are 2-2 against each other this season, with Lawes winning the last one.

"But that doesn't mean anything," said Lawes, supported by third Jenna Loder, second Theresa Cannon and Sarah Wazney.

The winner will advance to today's 5 p.m. final, with the loser facing the winner of this morning's 2-vs-2 game between Springfield's Sherry Just and Montford at 1 p.m. Just downed Wildewood's Heather Pierson 9-6 in a tie-breaker last night. In earlier tie-breakers, Pierson defeated Miami's Jolene Rutter 6-3 and Montford beat Wildewood's Lisa Deriviere 5-4.

Petersfield's Kerri Flett, whose brother, Kyle, died as the result of a snowmobile accident just before Christmas, finished with a 4-3 record and out of the playoffs.

BITER: Alex Mowat (Lawes) was named top coach of the championship, while Strath got the nod for sportsmanship.


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