Gaels put quarter-final ghost to rest

Women’s rugby win first playoff game since 2005 on Saturday at Kingston Field

Fullback Karlye Wong tries to break through the Excalibur forward line during Saturday’s quarter-final win over Trent.
Fullback Karlye Wong tries to break through the Excalibur forward line during Saturday’s quarter-final win over Trent.

It has been a long time coming for the women’s rugby team. Four years to be exact.

After falling in the OUA quarter-finals every year since 2005 the Gaels finally broke through on Saturday with a 25-19 win over the Trent Excalibur at Kingston Field. The victory was special because the Excalibur that Queen’s season last year.

The Gaels jumped out to a 12-5 halftime lead on tries by winger Katie Chu and fullback Karlye Wong and a conversion from eight-man Michelle Gauer. However after fly-half Andrea Wadsworth put down a try early in the second half, Trent battled back, eventually reducing the Queen’s edge to 20-19. In injury time, forward Alison Burns clinched the Queen’s victory with a try as time expired.

Head coach Beth Barz said she was pleased to see her team through to the OUA semifinals.

“It’s absolutely great,” she said. “Regardless of whether it’s Trent or another team you want to get the win at the end of the day. By all means it’s great to see ourselves make it through to the next round.”

During the Gaels’ 36-30 regular season win over the Excalibur, Trent’s power game victimized the Gaels. Barz said the team prepared for that by focusing on getting the ball to the backs as quickly as possible.

“It’s always been a priority,” Barz said. “We have a lot of strengths in our backs so we want to use them. This day, compared to the first game of the season, our forwards were excellent in retaining the ball.”

Barz said the team didn’t put too much stock in the previous win against Trent, but focused on their own game.

“I think there’s always an element of ‘Yes we can’ or ‘No we can’t’ from a previous game, which is dangerous,” she said. “We spent the year preparing ourselves for what we want to do rather than stopping an attack specifically.”

Despite the win, Barz said Queen’s could have capitalized more throughout the game.

“We left some points on the field, as there were a few too many drops by our back three in particular,” Barz said. “We had some opportunities where we could have put some more points on.”

Barz said the team tweaking their offence this week before they travel south to take on the third-ranked Guelph Gryphons.

“We just need a few more variations in our offence as we were getting a bit predictable in the second half,” she said.

Wong said another week of practice will help the team come together as a group.

“We still have a lot of meshing to do with each other,” Wong said. “The way we’ve been playing so far, we’ve been really getting cohesive and we can only go up from here.”

The Gaels are ranked 10th in the country. Wong said that allows them to play the underdog role against Guelph.

“We beat a lot of people’s expectations and it feels really good right now,” she said. “We really have nothing to lose.”

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