Championship rematch

After win over Western, Guelph is up next for women’s rugby

Lauren McEwen’s 37 points lead all players in the playoffs.
Lauren McEwen’s 37 points lead all players in the playoffs.

Women’s rugby has clinched a spot in the OUA finals thanks to an exceptional performance on Saturday, led by third-year centre Lauren McEwen.

McEwen contributed 20 points in the Gaels’ 30-15 victory over the Western Mustangs in the OUA semi-final at Nixon Field.

The win means Queen’s will face the Guelph Gryphons this Saturday in a rematch of last year’s championship game, where the Gaels fell short 10-6.

Both teams have had perfect seasons en route to winning their divisions, and sit in the top three in the national rankings. No matter the outcome of their final matchup, both teams will play in the CIS championships.

Head coach Beth Barz said the Gaels have been eyeing another shot at Guelph since last season.

“We’ve been waiting for the rematch all year and I think Guelph has been too,” she said. “We know we’re the two best teams in the OUA and we want to go and play.”

To get into the finals, the Gaels had to first go up against a Western squad that scored 178 points in five regular season games.

The Mustangs had an early opportunity to score after Queen’s took a penalty, but the Western kick attempt bounced off the upright, leaving the game scoreless.

Instead, McEwen opened scoring in the 23rd minute, connecting on a penalty goal to give the Gaels a 3-0 lead. She would double the score seven minutes later.

To cap off her strong first half, McEwen added a try in the 34th minute and kicked her first of three conversions in the game, putting the Gaels up 13-0 at the interval.

“Lauren’s been a standout player for us the whole season,” Barz said. “Today she made the players around her play really well as well, which I was really proud of. That’s something that’s really selfless.”

After McEwen made the score 16-0, Western was able to break through Queen’s defence and score a try.

Momentum quickly swung back towards the Gaels though, as forward Kayla Roote and back Caitie Ryan added a try apiece.

Western’s Lori Josephson scored two tries in the last minutes of the match, but Queen’s was able to prevent any more scoring.

McEwen said despite the late points by the Mustangs, it was still a strong game for the Gaels.

“We did what we wanted to accomplish,” she said. “We had some hiccups at the end, but overall, we came in and got the job done.”

McEwen currently sits first among OUA players with 37 playoff points. She said Gaels men’s rugby standout Liam Underwood has recently helped her practice kicking.

“[I’m] just taking it slow and focusing on what needs to happen,” she said.

With Western bested, Queen’s can now focus on a Gryphons team that eliminated the Gaels in each of the last four seasons. The Gaels are confident that after the season they’ve had, they’ll be able to turn the tables on Guelph.

“This year everything’s clicking, everything’s just right,” McEwen said. “It feels like we’re going to do it. It really does.”

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