Revenge sweet for women’s rugby

Gaels avenge last season’s playoff burnout with season-opening win against Trent

Gaels’ fullback Karlye Wong fights for inches against a Trent pack during Saturday’s 36-30 Queen’s win over the Trent Excalibur.
Gaels’ fullback Karlye Wong fights for inches against a Trent pack during Saturday’s 36-30 Queen’s win over the Trent Excalibur.
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The women’s rugby team opened their season with a thrilling 36-30 home win over last year’s fourth-placed Trent Excalibur on Saturday.

The teams exchanged leads until rookie winger Katie Chu broke through the Excalibur defense late in the second half with an inspiring run—featuring several broken tackles and a spin—to touch down her first career OUA try and put the Gaels ahead for good.

Queen’s also received two tries from fly-half Andrea Wadsworth and one try each from eight-man Shauna Geerts, winger Lauren Prufer and fullback Karlye Wong. Centre Peggy-Rae Carswell added three conversions.

Geerts said she was pleased to start the season by avenging last year’s loss than saw the Gaels crash out of the playoffs last season.

“The outcome is exactly what we wanted,” she said. “We’ve been working towards this. Ever since we played Trent in the final game of the season last year and lost and got out we’ve had an unfinished business with Trent.” In such a close match, Geerts said playing until the final whistle was the key to the victory.

“We executed exactly how we wanted and the biggest thing was that we held it together until the very end,” she said. “We knew it was 36-30 with three minutes left and it was anyone’s game. They do a lot of kicking, they could run it through and all we wanted to do was keep it out of our end and finish our game.”

Geerts said the team could work on their ground game, with the majority of Trent’s points coming from pushing the Gaels back to their own line.

“They were a really big team so we were a little bit mismatched and thus had to compensate for that,” she said. “In future games we’ll have a better idea what to do and how to counter that by keeping [the ball] out of our forwards’ hands and giving it to our backs.”

Head coach Beth Barz cited the Gaels’ perseverance as their greatest strength.

“It was probably the most complete game I’ve seen the girls play,” she said. “We played with a lot of heart.”

Barz said the team’s focus was admirable given the number of times the lead changed hands.

“The focus was there, and more importantly, the focus stayed high,” Barz said. “Even though we scored, we stayed up and we played defense. We bent and broke, but every time we broke we came back and pulled it out. When we executed like we’re capable of, they didn’t really have an answer for us.”

While it was an excellent start to the season, Barz said there’s always room for improvement.

“I think we made some unforced errors on offence,” she said. “We dropped a few balls, missed a few passes and missed a few kicks in terms of where we should have put them, but that’s typical for early season form.

With a short five-game regular season, Barz is focused on improvement every week.

“We want to keep getting better every game, so the more we can win the better. If we improve and lose then we’ve still got to put that in perspective and come back even stronger the next week.”

The Gaels travel to York University on Sunday at 1 p.m. to take on the 0-1 York Lions.

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