Defending OUA champions look ahead to 2023-24 season

Likely and unlikely victors share aspirations to be back-to-back champions
Image by: Herbert Wang
Queen’s Baseball, Women’s Lacrosse, and Women’s Rugby team all won OUA Championships last season.

Reflecting on past years as champions, the Queen’s Baseball, Women’s Lacrosse, and Women’s Rugby head coaches discuss preparing for a new season as defending champions.

The coaches made their hope for a repeat season evident.

“We’re trying to continue the momentum we had last year,” Mike Watson said, head coach of the Women’s Lacrosse team. “We’re hoping to see some growth out of our first and second-years that came onto the team last year, as well as some recruits coming in. We have some high hopes for this year.”

Both the Women’s Lacrosse and Rugby teams have had exceptional seasons in recent years, with each team going undefeated in their 2021-22 and 2022-23 regular seasons.

Though each new season presents its own unique challenges, the Women’s Rugby team knows they deserve to be on top.

“Our expectations are sky-high because we’ve got a pretty cool thing going here where we’ve been fortunate to work incredibly hard and that hard work is being rewarded with successful performances on the field over the last number of years,” Dan Valley said, Women’s Rugby head coach, in an interview with The Journal.

“Our intent is to go out and compete for an OUA championship every year. Our intent is to go out and compete to be the best program in the country, every year. This year is no different.”

Unlike the lacrosse and rugby teams, who both have had great seasons in the past, the baseball team finished their last season as the unlikely victor.

“The team wasn’t great for quite a long time,” Baseball Head Coach Jeff Melrose said. “We started in a pretty rough place honestly. Nobody would come out to watch us play because people don’t want to come out and watch the home team lose 22 to nothing.”

Melrose explained how as last season progressed, the team began to pick up speed at the right time to earn their first OUA championship title.

After achieving a handful of wins at the onset of the 2022-23 season, the team gained momentum after a six-game winning streak.  At the OUA regional qualifiers, the team only lost one of their four games, and beat the Guelph Gryphons 1-0 at the OUA playoffs to edge them into the finals.

The Gaels later beat defending OUA champions University of Toronto Varsity Blues, to secure their first championship win in the team’s history.

“We’ve sort of embraced the underdog status and that really helped us last year,” Melrose said.

As the 2023-24 season approaches, each team continues to practice with the same regimes they had prior to last season. While most of this training takes place in the winter and spring, they’ve resumed training camp in the late summer months.

“The training for the most part has been pretty consistent, our expectations remain high,” Watson said. “We don’t call off the gas, we keep moving forward and keep pushing harder.”

Women’s Rugby had a similar response.

“We’re at a place now where the expectation is excellence,” Valley said. “Our bar doesn’t really deviate year-to-year as far as what we’re aspiring to do.”

“We are very, very well positioned to go and do our thing and have a blast while we do it.”

Though the same level of expectation is not present for the baseball team, they’re still looking to improve.

“The first couple days of practice we haven’t really felt a need to talk to them about last year at all,” Melrose said. “We sort of just tried to work on the things that we see in front of us.”

Each team will host several home games, with the Women’s Lacrosse team hosting the OUA championship on home turf. Each team’s schedule can be found on the Queen’s Athletics website.


baseball, OUA Champions, Women's lacrosse, Women's rugby

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