Gaels bag fifth place with big win

Women’s rugby finishes historical season with fifth-place finish at the CIS Championship in Peterborough

Though they will be losing some key athletes, including Jocelyn Poirier and Karlye Wong, the Gaels hope to carry this year’s success into the coming seasons.
Though they will be losing some key athletes, including Jocelyn Poirier and Karlye Wong, the Gaels hope to carry this year’s success into the coming seasons.

The women’s rugby team capped off their best season in their program’s history last weekend with a fifth place finish at the CIS Women’s Rugby Championship, held at Trent University in Peterborough. After winning silver in the OUA Championships Queen’s, ranked sixth nationally, advanced to meet the elite of the country for the first time ever.

The Gaels wasted no time making an impression as they dictated play against the first-ranked and three time defending champions Lethbridge Pronghorns before falling 15-12 in overtime. After a 32-3 loss to the Concordia Stingers, Queen’s finished their season with an emphatic 53-5 win over the host, Trent Excalibur, for fifth place overall.

“We played extraordinarily well,” head coach Beth Barz said. “Neil Langevin, the [Lethbridge] coach also mentioned that we completely outplayed them. We had some opportunities to win the game before the overtime happened. We came out on a pretty unlucky end but we certainly put ourselves in a position to win the game against the three-time defending champions.”

The Atlantic University Sport champions, St. Francis Xavier X-Women, defeated Concordia for the national championship banner with the Guelph Gryphons nabbing the bronze medal.

After a mentally and physically demanding game against Lethbridge, Barz said it was very difficult for the team to come back 24 hours later and take on Concordia, who had not yet played in the tournament.

“Anytime you lose a very physical game like that with such an emotional tide to it, it’s exhausting,” she said. “While we got on the board first and came out in the first 15 or 20 minutes strong, we just weren’t able to sustain it.”

A familiar OUA foe seemed to be just the remedy that the Gaels needed as they finished off the season with a big game against Trent.

“They were bound and determined that they were going to put in a good showing against Trent,” Barz said. “We had some excellent individual efforts and the second half was a points explosion. They weren’t going to be stopped and it was nice to see them finish off well, particularly for those girls that are graduating this year.”

Scrum-half Susan Heald and outside centre Andrea Wadsworth were named Championship All-Stars for their strong play over the weekend.

“Susan often goes unrecognized and flies below the radar because she’s so consistent,” Barz said. “She made a couple of other scrum halves in those games look really foolish by her hard-nosed play defensively and using her skills as well as she could.

“I was thrilled to see [Wadsworth] selected because I think she had a really strong tournament. She definitely played really well this year and she’s coming back for a fourth year as well next year, which bodes well for the team.”

Queen’s will lose some key players to graduation after this season including captains Jocelyn Poirier and Karlye Wong.

Poirier said she has seen the team grow immensely in her five years at Queen’s and was extremely pleased to end on a high note.

“I think we’re really proud with what we did,” she said. “We talked earlier in the season about sending a message this year and I think we did just that. We’ve definitely moved up in rank and have gained notice and respect from a lot of people across the country. We’re really happy with it.”

Heald, the only remaining captain, and a new wave of leaders will look to push on next year and continue to exceed expectations.

“We set our goal to get OUA gold and we got silver, but also we wanted to get to [the CIS Championship] so that was huge,” Heald said. “To finally get there and play our hearts out and finish the way we did, I don’t think anyone is regretting anything at this point. I’m hoping that we can pick up where we left off.”

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