Familiar path to final four

Gaels romp past Trent, setting stage for semi-final showdown with Western

Lauren McEwen finished second in the OUA with 54 individual points.
Lauren McEwen finished second in the OUA with 54 individual points.

Playoffs are here, and so is Queen’s offence.

The Gaels women’s rugby team earned a blowout win over the Trent Excalibur for the second time this season last Friday, this time via a 72-22 final score in the OUA quarterfinals. Queen’s previous high in points this season was 45.

With the win, the Gaels move on to the league semi-finals, as they will host the Western Mustangs this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Nixon Field.

Last year, the team lost 10-6 to the Guelph Gryphons in the OUA championship game. While many fans are looking forward to a potential rematch with Guelph, head coach Beth Barz stressed that the Gaels are fully focused on beating the Mustangs.

“Given that this game is the game that determines who goes to the CIS championships, there is certainly quite a lot on the line,” Barz said. “I don’t think focus will be a problem. They know at this point in the season that it’s win or go home.”

Early in Friday’s match, the nationally fourth-ranked Gaels trailed Trent, as the Excalibur took a fleeting 7-5 lead. However, Queen’s offence was simply unstoppable once they got firing on all cylinders, tallying 67 additional points to end Trent’s season.

The Gaels defeated the same Excalibur team 36-5 on Sept. 20.

Wingers Caitie Ryan and Karley Heyman led the Gaels’ charge by scoring three tries each, while fourth-year lock Bronwyn Corrigan and second-year centre Miranda Seifert added two tries apiece.

Third-year centre Lauren McEwen once again led the Gaels in points with 17, scoring a try and six conversions.

“Everyone who got on the board in terms of scoring played very well,” Barz said, noting that fourth-year props Claragh Pegg and Devon Stride also made solid contributions.

“Overall, it was a good team effort.”

All four OUA quarterfinal matchups were won by 33 points or more, including Queen’s 50-point blowout. Barz said there’s been some debate within the OUA about eliminating this playoff stage entirely.

“This is actually not a game that we look forward to playing … but it’s an opportunity for the playoffs to start a game early,” she said. “We were looking to play to our full potential and we certainly did that in the first half.”

By topping Trent, the Gaels can turn their focus to Western, who beat the Waterloo Warriors 36-3 in their quarterfinal showdown.

Queen’s and Western faced each other last September in London, where the Gaels prevailed 31-17.

A win over Western will send the Gaels to the CIS national championships for the third time in four years. The Mustangs are attempting to return to nationals for the first time since 2009.

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