Crucial weekend for Gaels

Football and rugby look to keep undefeated records

Rob Bagg, above, and the Golden Gaels football team travel to Windsor to take on the Lancers on Saturday night.
Rob Bagg, above, and the Golden Gaels football team travel to Windsor to take on the Lancers on Saturday night.
Journal File Photo
Colin Alexander, seen here against Trent, plays McMaster with the Gaels rugby team Saturday.
Colin Alexander, seen here against Trent, plays McMaster with the Gaels rugby team Saturday.
Journal file Photo

This weekend will be busy for the Gaels. At 1 p.m. Saturday, the men’s rugby team will face the McMaster Marauders at Kingston Field. The Gaels are 2-0 so far, lead the OUA East and have outscored their opponents 154 to three to this point.

However, the Marauders pose a tough challenge. They won the OUA championship last year for the fourth time in five seasons. This season, they are also 2-0, are tied with Western for the lead in the OUA West and have put up 119 points to their opponents’ three. Last year, McMaster handed Queen’s their first loss of the year with a 16-10 defeat in Hamilton.

Head coach Peter Huigenbos said he’s happy with the team’s start.

“It’s great to get two wins on the board at the start of the season,” he said. “Although we know our competition haven’t been the best teams in the league, they’ve played us hard, and we’ve taken a lot out of the games­—what areas we need to improve upon in order to make [our record] 3-0 this weekend.”

Huigenbos said the team needs to clean up their defensive organization, particularly on set pieces.

“It’s been a bit sloppy,” he said.

Huigenbos said the Gaels are eager to get revenge for last year’s loss to the Marauders.

“I think our players relish the opportunity to compete against one of the best teams in the OUA,” he said. “Our players have been looking at this game since October when we were in Hamilton and let one slip through our fingers. Our boys are definitely focused on this weekend and this weekend alone, and getting a win against the defending champs.”

Huigenbos said the home crowd should be a big advantage for the Gaels.

“There’s no better place to watch a rugby game in Ontario than at Queen’s in the fall. It’s a great place to watch a game, and we’ve always enjoyed a great fan base, and we hope that the Queen’s population and Kingston population will come out to watch a very entertaining and exciting rugby game.”

Women’s rugby, who are also undefeated at 2-0, are away for a Saturday afternoon match against the University of Toronto. The women had a hard-fought win against Trent at Kingston Field last weekend, and will look to remain in first in the OUA’s East Division with a win.

The football team, off to a 3-0 start and currently ranked eighth in the country, travel to Windsor to take on the Lancers. The game is at 7 p.m., and will be broadcast live on The Score and CFRC 101.9 FM.

Last week’s win against McMaster saw the Gaels penalized 19 times for everything from illegal procedure to a time-count violation. Head coach Pat Sheahan said the Gaels will need to take fewer penalties this week.

“Nineteen for us was way, way too many. There’s the whole idea of not letting yourself get pushed around, and sometimes you have to take some measures, but you don’t want to hurt the team by being selfish and retaliating.” Sheahan said he was pleased with the intensity the Gaels showed in the second half last weekend.

“What I found both encouraging and interesting is that our guys were pretty fired up,” he said.

Sheahan said the team will need to figure out how to produce a consistent effort for the whole game.

“What we’re going to have to learn if we’re going to challenge for the league title, and I believe we can, is we’re going to have to get into those real heated battles and play four quarters,” he said.

Sheahan said the team’s performance coming from behind is an improvement on last year, but they’re too confident in their ability to come back late in the game.

“It’s kind of a blind confidence that’s a bit nonchalant at times,” he said. “This kind of confidence is encouraging, but not good for the stomach lining.”

Defensive lineman Dee Sterling said the history between Queen’s and Windsor adds motivation for the Gaels to win.

“The last three years we’ve lost to them, so we’re motivated not to make it four.”

Windsor’s offence features running back Daryl Stephenson, winner of the Hec Creighton trophy as the best football player in the CIS last season. Stephenson is only 167 yards from breaking Jesse Lumsden’s OUA career rushing record of 4,138 yards. Sterling said the Gaels’ defence is excited to have the chance to shut down a talented player like Stephenson.

“The guys are going to be looking forward to playing against the best back in the country,” he said. Sterling said the team will need to limit their defensive mistakes against the Lancers.

“There were a couple errors and missed assignments, myself included [last week]. Minimize those, and we should be okay,” he said.

Running back Mike Giffin recorded his third-straight game with over 100 yards rushing last week and scored three touchdowns for the Gaels. Giffin said the Gaels will need to get off to a good start to avoid a repeat of last year’s loss.

“We’ll try not to get down so early. Hopefully we can keep the game close, and then pull away. As long as we play well, I think we’ll be all right.”

The game takes place during Windsor’s homecoming event, which linebacker T.J. Leeper said will give Queen’s extra motivation.

“We’re pumped up. We’re coming into their house on their big day, their homecoming, and I’m really looking forward to beating them in their place, because they did the same to us last year.”

Leeper said things are coming together for the Gaels.

“Our defence and our offence are really rolling right now, and we’ve got some good players on offence that I think are going to surprise some people out there,” he said.

Soccer action kicks off at noon Saturday with the women’s team taking on the Laurentian Voyageurs at Richardson Stadium. The Gaels tied the Voyageurs 0-0 in Sudbury last Sunday. At 2:15 p.m., the men’s team takes to the pitch at Richardson to take on Laurentian. They pulled off a 3-0 win in last Sunday’s game against the Voyageurs.

Also on Saturday, baseball hosts Durham in a doubleheader at Megaffin Field on Montreal Street near James Street. Games take place at 1 and 3 p.m.

Men’s lacrosse play the McGill Redmen at 2 p.m. on the north field at West Campus and men’s hockey take on the Royal Military College Paladins in an exhibition game at 7:30 p.m. in Gananoque.

Soccer action continues on Sunday at Richardson Stadium against the Nipissing Lakers. The women play at noon and the men’s game starts at 2:15 p.m.

Field hockey and mountain biking both have away competitions this weekend. Lacrosse and baseball both have away games on Sunday.

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