On a chilly Saturday night under the lights, women’s rugby was able to beat their top rivals.
The Gaels topped the Western Mustangs 50-19 at home in their final regular season game. Queen’s heads into the OUA quarterfinal — to be played Friday against the York Lions – with a 4-1 record.
Despite tough weather conditions at Nixon Field, forward Loren Baldwin was pleased with the team’s performance.
“We were really happy with how we played today. The coaches did not have too many things to say,” she said. “I think we handled ourselves really well given the pressure that we were under.”
The women showed their power off the first whistle. Second-year back Sydnee Nolan was the first Gael to put points on the board, followed by a successful conversion from centre back Lauren McEwen.
The team kept the ball moving with three more tries from wing Karley Heyman, full back Emily Groper and McEwen. With a deep kick into the Gaels’ end, the Mustangs (2-3) then tallied their first points of the match.
It didn’t take the Gaels long to respond, as a line-out near the try line resulted in a score from forward Gillian Pegg. Queen’s went into the break with a solid lead of 29-7.
The second half was hard-fought by both teams, with neither letting up until the final whistle. The Gaels were able to secure their lead with two tries from Pegg and another from forward Emma Chown.
Two successful conversions from McEwen and one from Heyman secured the victory for the Gaels.
McEwen said the Gaels’ mental game played a major role in the victory.
“Our ability to shutdown their strengths was great to see,” she said. “Later on in the game they were becoming desperate and did a few unsportsmanlike moves. Despite that, we kept our head level. We shook them off and stayed with our game plan.”
She said her favourite play of the game came from fellow fourth-year Jordyn Rowntree.
“A standout moment for me tonight was the spectacular run from Jordyn and the great support off of it as well. We were able to gain 70 meters from it and it turned the fire on,” she said.
McEwen mentioned her team’s strong defence as a highlight of the season overall.
“I am proud of the lack of points that other teams have scored on us. It’s great to beat a team by 50 points but it’s even better to keep it zero points for the opposing team,” she said.
Head coach Beth Barz was quick to highlight the team’s depth in attack as one of the keys to the success this season.
“One of the best things that I can say is that we have had a balanced scoring attack,” she said. “We have McEwen as a scoring leader but we also have an incredible amount of athletes who got over the line and scored. We have played as a team which has been really awesome to see.”
With the regular season over, the Gaels will be looking to defend last season’s OUA championship victory.
The quarterfinal will take place at 5 p.m. on Friday, when the Gaels host York (3-2) at Nixon Field. This gives the team a shorter amount of time to prepare than normal.
That said, Barz isn’t worried this will affect the team’s preparation.
“The only difference is that the game next week is Friday night instead of Saturday so we have to adjust to the shorter week,” she said. “But we will keep things fairly consistent with the past weeks.”
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