SPORTS

Sweeting beats Lawton in semifinal to set up Scotties final against Jones

02/21/2015 02:32 EST | Updated 04/23/2015 05:59 EDT
MOOSE JAW, Sask. - Alberta's Val Sweeting was reeling after her first playoff loss to Manitoba's Jennifer Jones at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

She'll get a chance to avenge that result in Sunday's final.

Sweeting couldn't hide her emotions after falling to Jones in the one-two Page Playoff game Friday night, a defeat that extended her losing skid to three games. Tears rolled down her cheeks shortly afterwards and she was visibly frustrated.

She picked up her game in Saturday's semifinal and held on for a 7-6 win over Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton to book a rematch against the Olympic champion.

"This whole team is really, really good at bouncing back and getting it to where they need to be," said Alberta coach Garry Coderre. "We work really hard in what I refer to as the now. You can't live with the future and you can't live with the past.

"You've got to live with what's happening right now."

Sweeting came through in the final end against Lawton by using her last throw to curl around a guard for a freeze in the four-foot. The Saskatchewan skip had a chance to force an extra end but her draw was light.

"It was maybe a (slightly) stickier spot because we hadn't played that path as much," Lawton said. "But it was unfortunate that it just came up a little short on us."

Lawton was coming off an 8-7 win over Canada's Rachel Homan earlier in the day at Mosaic Place. Lawton had the hammer in the 11th and nailed her final draw for the win.

The atmosphere was electric for both games as the vocal spectators — 3,670 in the morning and a near-sellout of 4,155 in the afternoon — cheered loudly for each Saskatchewan shot. A pep band played in the bench area to create even more of a playoff feel.

Lawton and Homan will play again Sunday for the bronze medal. Homan was trying to become just the fourth skip to win three straight Canadian women's titles.

"I thought my team played really well," she said. "There was a couple shots here and there that we missed by a couple centimetres. But that's the way it goes sometimes. Lawton's team played really, really well."

Homan beat Sweeting last year in Montreal for her second straight national title. It was Sweeting's second Scotties appearance and first time in the national final.

"I think there's just more comfort that we take from last year being in that position," Sweeting said. "You dream of winning the Scotties and being in that final. We were overthrowing a little bit, I think we had the adrenaline going last year.

"But this year I think we'll be much more comfortable having been in that situation before."

This is old hat for Jones, a four-time champion who was the last skip to win three straight Scotties titles (2008-'10). She won Olympic gold a year ago in Sochi and has dropped just one game all week.

Jones has started strong in both of her victories over Sweeting.

She jumped out to a 3-0 lead in a 10-5 win in Friday's round-robin finale. Jones led 4-0 after the opening end in the one-two game before holding on for an 8-6 victory.

"Third time's the charm maybe," Sweeting said with a laugh. "It'll be a close game. We'll just try not to spot them four and it should be better."

The winner will represent Canada at the March 14-22 world women's curling championship in Sapporo, Japan.

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Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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