Queen’s Gaels fall varsity preview

The Journal’s sports editors examine the seven varsity teams that take the field this fall

Football

The football team had a rude awakening last season. After a 2009 Vanier Cup victory, the 2010 squad dropped to a 3-5 regular season and a first-round playoff exit meant a lot of growing pains for a young team. But a challenging campaign allowed numerous young players to get significant OUA experience and develop some hunger for success. As a result, this year’s team is deep, versatile and experienced.

On defence, the Gaels nucleus remains intact. Linebackers Sam Sabourin, who was named 2010 OUA rookie of the year, and Stephen Laporte will lead the squad. The team is also bolstered by the return of three-time all Canadian Osie Ukwuoma, cut by the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders in June. Ukwuoma, now in his fifth year of eligibility, was a key member of the Vanier Cup team.

There’s both excitement and uncertainty surrounding the offense. Unproven second-year QB Billy McPhee takes over from Justin Chapdelaine, who moves to wide receiver. An inexperienced offensive line will rely on Josh Prinson, Mike Sullivan, and Derek Morris for leadership after the departure of fourth-year Matt O’Donnell and fifth-year Dan Bederman.

There was plenty of optimism in training camp. Sabourin, Okwuoma and fourth-year lineman Frank Pankewich give the defence some thunder; wide receivers Chapdelaine and Giovanni Aprile provide athleticism to the offence: and kicker/punter Dan Village, the Gaels all-time point leader, spearheads the special teams.

Coach

Pat Sheahan returns for a 12th season with the Gaels. The three-time OUA coach of the year said he expects his team to contend in 2011.

Key player

The Gaels fortunes will depend on how new quarterback Billy McPhee performs. McPhee’s strong arm makes his style similar to Gaels legend Danny Brannagan. Quarterbacks coach Ryan Sheahan said the offense is perfectly suited to McPhee’s abilities.

Can’t-miss game

Oct. 22: A home game against the arch-rival Western Mustangs to end the regular season will likely have significant playoff implications for the Gaels.

—Gilbert Coyle

Women's soccer

The women’s soccer team was the complete package in 2010. They cruised through the regular season, scoring 50 goals on their way to a 14-2 record. When the competition stiffened at the nationals, they recorded three straight shutouts and managed a victory against the favoured Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the national championship final.

This season, almost every starting player is back. CIS all-Canadians Jacqueline Tessier and Kelli Chamberlain will be expected to score the goals, midfielder Riley Filion and defender Brie Shaw have just represented Canada at the FISU games, and fifth-year Chantal Marson will be the starting keeper. These defending champs are more experienced and more mature.

Dave McDowell, last season’s OUA East coach of the year, said the girls will approach the season game by game and won’t be talking about another national title. But with such a strong returning squad, he’ll be expected to produce a repeat.

Defending a title is never easy, and every team in the CIS will want to beat the champs. But expect this team to be up to the task.

Coach

McDowell is entering his 24th season as head coach of the women’s team. McDowell has guided the Gaels to two national championship titles. He’s been named OUA Coach of the Year seven times, and CIS Coach of the Year twice.

Key player

Striker Jacqueline Tessier scored 18 regular-season goals to win OUA East Player of the Year. Her offensive prowess will be needed if the Gaels want to repeat last season’s success.

Can’t-miss game

Sept. 10: The Ottawa Gee-Gees beat Queen’s twice in the regular season last year. This game is an early chance for the Gaels to assert themselves at the top of the OUA East.

— Gilbert Coyle

Men's soccer

Last season marked the end of an era for a generation of Gaels. A fourth-place regular season finish and a quarter-final exit meant that long-term leaders like midfielder Mike Arnold and defender Justin Vermeer ended their careers in disappointment.

Second-year defender Joseph Zupo will be the on-field captain and two rookies will be in the starting 11. Second-year defender David Tom will lead the back line with Zupo, top recruit Peter Christidis will be the attacking midfielder and second-year striker Eric Koskins will be relied upon to score goals.

Last year, the fourth-placed Gaels beat every team below them in the OUA East standings, but lost to every team at the top. If they want to move up the standings, they’ll have to find a way to compete with the big teams. A young squad will have to adjust quickly to a fast and physical league and a back line with only three returning defenders that will have to avoid any major injuries.

This team looks to be a future force. But it might still be too early to expect success this season.

Coach

Chris Gencarelli begins his second season as head coach. Gencarelli was once a prolific goal scorer with the team from 2003 to 2006. He’s making plenty of changes to the team. He’s assembled a young group of players, and is already looking to them for leadership.

Key player

First-year attacking midfielder Peter Christidis takes over Mike Arnold’s role as attacking midfielder. Christidis is a creative player and his performances will dictate whether the Gaels can score goals this season.

Can’t miss game

Sept. 24: The Ryerson Rams came into Kingston and beat the Gaels on their own turf last season, a result which secured them third place. This season’s encounter will have major playoff implications.

— Gilbert Coyle

Women's rugby

The 2010 women’s rugby team saw the most success in recent memory. Their OUA silver medal was the team’s best finish since 1995, earning them their first-ever trip to the CIS championships, where they placed fifth in the country. Many key players from last season’s team have graduated, which means the women will struggle to match last year’s success. But head coach Beth Barz said she expects a smooth transition in 2011.

Scrum-half Susan Heald and prop Rachelle Kranenburg are co-captains, while the team will also look to veterans Andrea Wadsworth and Sam Trinier for flair and leadership. But the story of the pre-season was the impressive play of the younger players. Second-year players Taylor White and Claragh Pegg will be central parts of the Gaels attack, and rookies Jillian Pegg, Lauren McEwen, and Danielle Underwood are expected to immediately fill big roles.

With Kingston Field under construction, the women will also be playing on the new field at West campus. They’ll be transitioning from grass to turf. Women’s rugby must contend with major changes this season. Although expectations are high and the future seems bright, there will likely be some growing pains along the way.

Coach

Beth Barz begins her seventh season as head coach this year. Barz is a former Gaels player and has also coached with the Canada U20 women’s team. She was the 2006 CIS Coach of the Year.

Key player

The Gaels will rely on fly-half Andrea Wadsworth to lead the offense this season. The fourth-year player and former all-Canadian has already represented Canada at the U20 level. If the women want to return to the national championships, Wadsworth will have to play a major role.

Can’t-miss game

Oct. 1: Last year, a 15-14 win over the McMaster Marauders was the reason why the Gaels won their division. This year’s encounter could decide the division title once again.

—Gilbert Coyle

Men's rugby

An OUA bronze medal last season was the men’s rugby team’s worst showing in five years. They’ll likely improve on that result. The team will be built around a strong core of veteran players and will also be strengthened by the return of three key members of the 2009 OUA championship team.

Brothers Tim and Pat Richardson return to the team as graduate students and Liam Underwood has recovered from an injury that kept him sidelined last season. Captain Dan Moor said their return to the team has livened up training camp.

Moor will lead the team from center, veteran Mike Wong returns as fullback, and former U20 national team players Underwood and Matt Kelly will lead the Gaels attack. The Richardson brothers will add a combination of skill, experience and leadership to a very deep squad.

The team will move to the artificial turf on West Campus while Kingston field undergoes renovations and head coach Peter Huigenbos will miss the first half of the season while in New Zealand with Team Canada for the Rugby World Cup. But these challenges aren’t likely to faze a veteran team. With a squad that’s more experienced than last year, this team will contend for the OUA title.

Coach

Peter Huigenbos begins his eighth season as the men’s head coach, after having played for the team from 1998 to 2001. He’s won an OUA title during his time at the helm and has been named OUA coach of the year three times. While Huigenbos is away, long-time assistant coach Garry Gilks will serve as interim coach.

Key player

If fly-half Liam Underwood returns to the same form that played an integral role in the team’s gold medal run, the Gaels are in good shape. Underwood has already represented both Canada and Ontario at the U20 and Senior levels respectively.

Can’t-miss game

Sept. 24: The McMaster Marauders beat the Queen’s twice last season—once in the regular season and once in the OUA semi-final. This match will reveal whether or not the Gaels are championship contenders.

—Gilbert Coyle

Cross-country

It’s been a long time since the cross-country team has seen any hardware at the national level. But head coach Steve Boyd expects the men’s team to reach the podium this season. The team finished fifth in the CIS last year and are coming back with an even stronger team this year.

Ollie Hathaway will captain the team while Clay Patterson, Andrew Courchene and Nick McGraw will also be key performers. The team has also recruited some incoming talent. Rookie Dave Cashin coming off a stellar high school career and transfer Maxime LeBoeuf are expected to fill the void left by former captain Matt Hulse.

A young women’s team faces a rebuilding year. Veterans Leah Larocque and Patricia Roney have graduated, so captain Alecia Kallos and Stephanie Hulse will lead the team. The team’s overall success will depend on whether or not young returning players and rookies can step up and perform.

Coach

Steve Boyd enters his second season as head coach. He ran for the Queen’s cross country team from 1982 to 1987, winning national titles twice.


—Gilbert Coyle

Rowing

The rowing team has lost about a third of their 2010 squad. On the men’s side, Rob Ballard moves on after a decorated lightweight career. The women lost Catherine Moores, who ended her career with three OUA medals last season. But the coaching staff carried out an intensive recruiting campaign in the off-season and head coach John Armitage said he’s confident his “strongest-ever” rookie class can succeed.

The team has set the bar high for 2011. The women want to repeat as OUA champions, while the men aim to improve on last year’s third place OUA finish. If either team wants to succeed, a large rookie contingent will need to perform well.

It’s too early to tell how the rowing team will do at the OUA championships. It will depend almost entirely on how young rowers gel with their crews in the coming weeks.

Coach

Head coach John Armitage works closely with four experienced assistant coaches who all live and work in the community.

—Gilbert Coyle

Sports Editor Gilbert Coyle played on the men's varsity soccer team.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.