Journal Athletes of the Week

Kelly Lagace

Women’s Rugby

Last weekend the women’s rugby team was thankful for Kelly Lagace.

On a rainy and bitter cold Thanksgiving Friday, Lagace scored two tries and guided the Gaels to a 25-14 victory over the York Lions. With the victory the Gaels improved to 5-0 on the season, with just one match remaining before the playoffs begin.

Lagace is a fourth-year veteran on the Gaels squad. She said her experience helped her remain focused and determined in the face of difficult weather conditions and an unexpected challenge from a York team that they had beaten 53-5 earlier in the season.

“[York] gave us a bit of a scare,” Lagace said. “They drew the score to within a point.”

Lagace said the suspenseful game and abysmal weather were a valuable test for the undefeated Gaels squad.

“It was wet, cold, and muddy,” she said. “It was our first game in terrible conditions, so we got to see what we could do with a weather challenge.”

Lagace gave credit for her two-try performance to the efforts of her teammates.

“I have to give it to the forwards,” she said. “They got the ball in great [offensive] position all game.”

Lagace also said her frustration with the weather conditions and the closeness of the match may have boosted her offensive play.

Lagace, a fourth-year civil engineering student, began playing rugby as a grade nine student at Assumption High School in Burlington.

“I was used to playing rep football with the boys,” she said. “They wouldn’t let me play in the league anymore, so I decided to try rugby.”

Lagace said the Gaels are expecting a successful run in the playoffs this year.

The Gaels play in a Tier 2 loop during the regular season, but cross over into the Tier 1 loop for the playoffs. Lagace said the team is optimistic that they have a legitimate shot at an OUA title.

First, however, Lagace and the Gaels will attempt to finish their regular season with an undefeated record. In their final pre-playoff test the Gaels will take on the Laurier Golden Hawks at home this Saturday.

--Dan Robson

Scott Valberg

Men’s Football

Gaels receiver Scott Valberg left his mark on the Waterloo Warriors this weekend and may have kept the Gaels’ playoff hopes alive in the process.

“It was good for us—we knew we were probably going to be in this position,” he said. “It’s good to remember how it feels [to win].”

Valberg managed four catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the 26-18 victory, including a 95-yard touchdown reception from rookie quarterback Danny Brannagan—the Gaels’ longest passing play of the season.

“In the second half we started predicting what they were going to do,” he said. “I just ran the route [we planned]. It’s pretty exciting when you don’t see anyone around you. I knew someone was chasing behind me, so I just tried to swerve out of the way of him.”

Valberg, a second-year biology and environmental science student and Kingston native, is now tied for the team lead in both receiving touchdowns and total touchdowns with three. The Bayridge Secondary School graduate ranks third on the team in receiving yardage, with 283, and his 20.2 yards-per-catch average leads the team.

Valberg is a big-play threat downfield, and he becomes ever more dangerous as Brannagan settles into OUA football and hits him with good passes more often.

Valberg figures to play a key role again in the team’s next contest against the U of T Varsity Blues, who are giving up a league-high average of 322.83 yards per game through the air.

“We just want to do everything right against Toronto, and sharpen our skills for Western,” he said.

Valberg may prove to be the valid third receiving threat—behind Brad Smith and Alex Vanags—that Queen’s and Brannagan have needed all season.

James Bradshaw is currently recovering from an awkwardly-placed wound inflicted by his own skate during a recent hockey match.

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