On to nationals

Gaels set for final meeting with Guelph

Saturday’s 36-27 win over Waterloo sent Queen’s to nationals for the second time in three years.
Saturday’s 36-27 win over Waterloo sent Queen’s to nationals for the second time in three years.
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The Gaels have qualified for the CIS Women’s Rugby Championship for the second time in team history.

The sidelines erupted as the final whistle blew in Queen’s 36-27 semi-final victory over the Waterloo Warriors. Although they remain undefeated this season, Saturday’s game was by far the Gaels’ biggest challenge so far.

“We had a good first half and a crappy second half,” said head coach Beth Barz. “[Our play] was choppy. There were some really, really great plays and just some times where it just wasn’t happening.”

The Gaels dominated play early on. Third-year lock Bronwyn Corrigan scored two tries and three conversions in the first half, leading Queen’s to a 31-5 lead at the midway point.

Gaels winger Sarah Pathak scored a quick try minutes into the second half to extend the lead.

Waterloo then staged a semi-comeback, scoring 22 unanswered points before the Gaels shut them down defensively and burned the rest of the clock.

“We scored right at the start of the second half and I think [the girls] just thought they were going to score again quickly,” Barz said. “When it didn’t happen, they had to reset and move into a different phase of our attack.”

“They didn’t want to be patient — they just wanted some points.”

With the win, Queen’s secured one of the OUA’s two berths to the CIS national championships, to be held at St. Francis Xavier from Nov. 2 to 4.

They last qualified for the CIS championships in 2010, placing fifth in the country.

Captain Claragh Pegg believes her team has the mentality needed to succeed at the national level.

“In past years I think we’ve struggled a little bit with confidence,” she said. “This year’s different because I know that we know we deserve to be at nationals.

“We’re ready to show that we’re one of the top teams in Canada, not just Ontario.”

Lost in the excitement of the win is Saturday’s upcoming OUA title game against the undefeated Guelph Gryphons. The reigning CIS champions eliminated the Gaels in the 2011 OUA semi-finals and beat them in the final in 2010.

First-year centre Nadia Popov believes her team will be ready for the challenge.

“[A title game] is really something that you can’t prepare for in one week,” she said. “It’s something we’ve all been preparing for all season long — and for the girls that were here last year, all off-season.”

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