Although both the women’s rugby and soccer teams’ upcoming seasons have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, Queen’s has lots to look forward to when they return.
On July 2, U Sports announced that, due to COVID-19, winning bids to host national championships were being deferred by a year. Queen’s was originally supposed to host the women’s rugby National Championship from Nov. third to seventh, but will now be hosting in 2021. The tricolour will also host the U Sports women’s soccer National Championships in November 2023 at Richardson Stadium.
Queen’s will be granted a spot in each tournament, regardless of either team’s success during their regular seasons, as is standard for all U Sports tournament hosts.
However, there’s a chance neither team will need a free pass.
Last season, the Queen’s women’s rugby team was dominant, winning the OUA Championships and earning a silver medal at the U Sports National Championship. Their roster is lined with star power, including fourth-year Sophie de Goede, who took home the Shiels Division MVP in 2018.
Women’s rugby Head Coach Dan Valley, who’s led the team since 2017, said the team is optimistic about the future.
“We’ve chosen to look at [the season being cut] as a unique opportunity that gives us 14 months to put ourselves in a situation where we can go and repeat as champions, and win a U Sports championship on our home pitch,” Valley told The Journal.
Valley also said the team’s mental health has been prioritized in wake of the cancellation.
“Priority A […] is just making sure that our athletes are okay, and that there is an adjustment that has to be made,” he said. “We gave ourselves a couple of weeks to wrap our heads around the unfortunate news that the season had been cancelled. But, then, we also made it very clear that at some point we needed to draw a line in the sand, dust ourselves off, and refocus.”
Much of the same can be said for the women’s soccer team: they dominated the regular season, finishing with 12 wins, one loss, and two ties. Their record earned them automatic entry into the OUA quarter-final, where they fell to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 3-0.
Veteran Head Coach Dave McDowell has been with the team since 1988, winning OUA Coach of the Year in seven of his seasons, and U Sports Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1998.
“We’ve assembled a good young team that we’re excited about getting a chance to compete in nationals at home,” McDowell told The Journal. “We have another really good group coming in this year […] I think [our young core] will form the basis for us in 2023.”
Falling short in the playoffs after such a dominant season has had a positive effect on the team’s drive, he said.
“It has been a real rallying cry and a lesson learned. They have been tremendously engaged even through all of the COVID and disappointment of the season being cancelled.”
Both teams are preparing for the future, looking to conquer their U Sports Championships on home turf.
“There are some things from COVID and COVID training that will benefit us in the long run […] we’ve done some things in terms of flexibility and resilience that have really helped,” McDowell said.
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