Ranking the top varsity moments

The Journal’s Sports editors recount the 10 seminal games of the Gaels’ fall and winter campaigns

Freezing Gold

Queen’s rowing thrived under hostile conditions. The women’s team overcame high winds, whipping rain and below-zero temperatures to win the OUA championship in St. Catharine’s.

The women’s team bested gold medal favourites Western and Brock, while Queen’s men finished third.

Despite having a team bus on site to warm the rowers, head coach John Armitage said some were borderline hypothermic during the event. Regatta officials were forced to shorten the course length from the standard 2,000 m length down to 1,000 m due to extreme wind conditions.

Armitage felt this year’s team went “over the moon” in terms of expectations, continuing the rowing program’s trend of perennial success.

— Peter Morrow

Hardwood Statement

Men’s basketball was the greatest Gaels revelation of 2012-13 — and nothing signified their arrival better than the miracle they nearly pulled against then-unbeaten Ryerson.

It took the Rams two full overtimes to gain any separation in a game defined by stifling defensive play.

Queen’s had several golden opportunities to pull out a stunning victory. Rookie guard Sukhpreet Singh missed a late free throw with the game tied, and the Gaels couldn’t capitalize after star Ryerson guard Jahmal Jones fouled out.

Still, the Gaels showed unparalleled spunk and perseverance against a nationally ranked opponent. More than any win, the near-upset signified the resurgence of a previously embattled basketball program.

— Nick Faris

'Stifling the Stangs

The Fauxcoming showdown will be remembered more for the colossal student field rush at halftime — but Queen’s win also had resounding on-field implications.

In front of 10,077 fans at Richardson Stadium, the Gaels prolonged their early undefeated streak by edging the rival Mustangs.

Queen’s defence came up huge, allowing just three points and holding Western quarterback Donnie Marshall to seven completions.

Gaels running back Ryan Granberg ran for 168 yards and scored the deciding fourth-quarter touchdown, clinching Queen’s 45th all-time win over the Mustangs.

The triumph didn’t lead to success down the road, but it capped off one of the most memorable afternoons of any Gaels season.

— Nick Faris

McKinty Strikes

The 2011 and 2012 CIS champions were minutes away from being ousted, but a clutch performance ultimately saved the Gaels.

Alexis McKinty put the team on her back. The fourth-year winger scored goals when it mattered most, keeping the playoff run alive in an OUA quarterfinal matchup against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues at West Campus field.

The Varsity Blues went up 1-0 in the first half and played suffocating defence for the remainder. McKinty buried the game-tying goal off a broken corner kick play with two minutes left in regulation, sending the game to extra time.

Carrying the momentum, Queen’s would pot two more in the final frame. McKinty scored the game-winner nine minutes in, securing the Gaels a spot in the semifinal.

— Peter Morrow

Sudden Victory

Minutes after the women’s extra time win, men’s soccer managed to produce an even greater playoff thriller.

Scoreless through 90 minutes in the OUA quarterfinals, the Varsity Blues took the lead midway through the second overtime period.

Gaels fifth-year midfielder Patrick Zanetti netted a miracle equalizer two minutes before full time, saving Queen’s turnaround season. The goal was Zanetti’s first career postseason marker.

As night fell, goalkeeper Dylan Maxwell made three shootout saves, while midfielder Henry Bloemen scored the clinching goal in the seventh round of penalties.

Queen’s advanced to their first OUA Final Four since 2007, igniting a West Campus celebration in their final home game of the year.

— Nick Faris

Semifinal Smackdown

The Gaels reminded everyone why they were national champions for two years straight. They defeated the previously unbeaten Ottawa Gee-Gees 4-1 in the CIS semifinal in Victoria, B.C.

Ottawa notched the first goal off a scrambled play in the first half, but the lead unraveled quickly. Within seven minutes, the Gaels scored on a rebound to make it 1-1.

The second half featured three Queen’s goals — including two long-range stunners by second-year striker Breanna Burton — and the Gaels moved on the national final.

It seemed like this was Ottawa’s year, after they shut out the Gaels twice on the way to an OUA title in October.

In the end, Queen’s was too hungry for a historic three-peat — something they fell just short of in the national final, losing 0-0 in penalty kicks to Trinity Western.

— Peter Morrow

Statement Game

The Gryphons were shaking in their boots. Queen’s was on the verge of dethroning the seven-time defending champions at Nixon Field — something that seemed impossible prior to this OUA final.

The Gryphons went up 7-0 early, and it seemed like another blowout might be in store. It wasn’t until the 23rd minute when Bronwyn Corrigan slotted a penalty kick, cutting the lead to 7-3. Suddenly, it was a ball game.

Queen’s made it 7-6 in the second half, but sterling defence from both sides kept Guelph ahead by a narrow margin. The Gryphons notched a late kick conversion, and Queen’s couldn’t muster a try.

Guelph hadn’t come that close to a loss in years. Their second worst result last fall was a 41-0 blowout over the Western Mustangs. With hardly any graduating Gaels players, this result is a sign of good things to come.

— Peter Morrow

Banner at the Buzzer

Seconds away from their second OUA title in three years, the Gaels had to withstand one frantic final push.

After shutting out Western 4-0 in London in Game 1 of the championship series, Queen’s outlasted the Mustangs at home two days later, salvaging an early 4-1 lead and preventing a tying goal in a late scramble in front of netminder Mel Dodd-Moher.

Five different Gaels scored in the title-clinching victory, played in front of an unnaturally raucous crowd at the Memorial Centre.

Second-year winger Taryn Pilon netted the eventual winning goal early in the third period, sending Queen’s to CIS nationals for the second time.

The game marked the final win for several Gaels veterans, including fifth-year captain Kristin Smith, defender Katie Duncan and goaltender Karissa Savage.

— Nick Faris

Redemption at Nixon

Queen’s prevailed in another clash of OUA’s men’s rugby titans. They topped the Western Mustangs in an epic OUA final to reclaim the title they held in 2009.

It was brutal to watch the regular season matchup in September, when the Mustangs squeaked away with a 22-20 win after a penalty kick in the game’s dying seconds. The kicker happened directly after, when visiting Mustangs supporters stormed Nixon Field, yelling childish slander in celebration.

The return of certain key pieces to the Gaels lineup undoubtedly helped them in their rematch. Team captain Dan Moor and star fly-half Liam Underwood missed the bulk of the season, playing with the Ontario Blues men’s side.

In final’s opening play, Moor blocked a kick and scored a solo try to open the scoring. Underwood then took charge, scoring 14 points to put the margin out of reach.

Even head coach Peter Huigenbos couldn’t hold back laughter following the win, while Moor could barely utter how he felt. It’s a shame there’s no CIS championship tournament for men’s rugby. This team had it all.

— Peter Morrow

The Collapse (I & II)

Queen’s suffered the most devastating loss of their season in a fourth-quarter meltdown at Guelph. 21 days later, they did it again.

Their regular season matchup saw the Gaels hemorrhage an early 25-point lead, with quarterback Billy McPhee tossing four interceptions and the offense failing to score in the second half. Guelph would vault ahead in the OUA standings, costing Queen’s a coveted playoff bye.

Three weeks later, Queen’s put forth an even greater choke job in a semifinal rematch. Up 36-14 through three quarters, the Gaels allowed three straight touchdowns in the final 10 minutes.

After a late two-point conversion tied the game, Guelph scored on their second play from scrimmage in overtime, capping off the unfathomable meltdown.

Queen’s second collapse infringed on mythical proportions — it mirrored the abrupt brutality of the first loss, yet was more devastating in every facet. Guelph would fall by 17 points to McMaster in the Yates Cup, while the Gaels were left to ponder what could have been.

— Nick Faris

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