McEwen shines in vital victory

Saturday’s win at McMaster a big step in Queen’s campaign for nationals

Queen’s won their most important game of the regular season in convincing fashion.

The nationally fifth-ranked Gaels preserved their unbeaten record on Saturday against ninth-ranked McMaster. Queen’s opened the scoring with a try early in the first half, leading to a 32-10 victory.

Head coach Beth Barz was impressed with the complete team effort.

“It was definitely a team effort in terms of our attack and particularly our defence,” Barz said. “Our backs stepped up to the plate on defence, especially at the goal line.”

After McMaster tied the score in the 19th minute, the Gaels responded quickly with two more tries and a conversion, taking a 17-5 lead into halftime. Four different Gaels found the end zone in the victory.

Second-year centre Lauren McEwen led the offensive charge with three tries. The effort won her the game ball.

“[McEwen] played very well,” Barz said. “When she hits the line at pace from depth, she has a lot of success and that’s really the key to the game.”

Scrum-half Susan Heald, number eight Kayla Roote and wing Caitie Ryan also scored tries.

With the win, the Gaels have realistically clinched the OUA’s Russell (East) Division. They’ve managed to collect the maximum number of points in all four games, currently sitting at 20.

Winning the division is of utmost importance to Queen’s. It would give them a bye straight to the OUA semi-finals, likely allowing them to avoid the powerhouse Guelph Gryphons until the league final.

Both teams in the OUA title game automatically qualify for nationals.

Despite the win’s significance, Barz feels very little will change in her team’s mentality.

“The girls started the season thinking CIS or bust, and that’s been the focus ever since training camp,” she said.

“Was this one of the boxes we needed to tick off and say ‘Mission accomplished?’ Absolutely. But does it change anything? Absolutely not.”

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