Water polo sinks York for provincial bronze medal

Two Gaels named first-team all-stars

Women’s water polo lost their semifinal to Carleton but to beat York for the bronze medal.
Women’s water polo lost their semifinal to Carleton but to beat York for the bronze medal.

With only one loss this season, Queen’s entered last weekend’s women’s water polo championships at home favoured to win gold. But a tough semi-final loss to eventual champions, the Carleton Ravens, found the Gaels competing for the bronze medal.

They pulled out a 10-8 victory over the York Lions to finish third. Though the team was down 2-0 early in the bronze medal game, Duffey said the Gaels refocused after the first quarter and turned the game around.

“We were upset about losing against Carleton on Saturday and we wanted to take every learning opportunity from that game,” Bickerton said.

Holly Tawse led the Queen’s offence with three goals, while firstteam all-star goalie Erin Bickerton made several key saves for the win.

Head coach Don Duffey said the team’s early play was the difference between the two games.

“Against Carleton, our first five possessions were post, crossbar, post, post, post … We started to panic and do things that we shouldn’t have.”

Queen’s led by three goals heading into the fourth quarter. After a York goal, the Gaels scored two goals in 28 seconds to take a 9-5 lead. York responded quickly with three straight goals to make the score 9-8 with less than two minutes remaining. Duffey called a timeout to settle his team.

“Panic didn’t set in, but we were definitely concerned,” he said. Added Bickerton, “We were almost surprised … We needed to regroup.” The stellar defensive play that had allowed Queen’s to gain the lead in the first place took over once again, and York was unable to score in the dying seconds of the game.

Tawse fired her third goal of the game in off the crossbar to seal the victory. Duffey said York was a wellcoached team, but Queen’s had a much deeper lineup. “Our bench is really deep and theirs wasn’t,” he said. Bickerton said having the home crowd was a huge factor for the Gaels.

“It was phenomenal. Having the fans there was awesome. Being able to look up and see friends, housemates and profs was awesome,” she said. Duffey appreciated the more practical advantages of being at home for such an important tournament. “It was huge to be in familiar surroundings … you get to sleep in your own bed at night and you have more fans than you normally do.”

Duffey said the team will be losing its two captains as well as several key players. “But we do have all four of this year’s all-stars returning … and a solid core to build around.” Though he expects his team to be in contention for the title this time next year, he also acknowledges that continuous improvement in the league means it won’t be an easy task.

“The league is starting to get pretty balanced now, so anyone can win.”

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