Historic bronze

Two national wins secure podium finish

Gaels women’s rugby returned home from Quebec City last weekend with the first national medal in program history.

Queen’s won bronze at the 2013 CIS championships, winning one of two round-robin games and prevailing in the medal round to finish third.

After fifth-place national finishes in 2010 and 2012, this year was the team’s best-ever showing.

The Gaels’ biggest win of the weekend came on Sunday in the medal round, when they defeated the McGill Martlets by a 32-24 margin to bring home CIS bronze.

Queen’s led 10-7 at halftime, but trailed 24-20 with just 14 minutes left after both teams traded several scores.

A resilient Gaels team put the game away with two tries and a conversion, with the final try coming from leading scorer Lauren McEwen.

“We knew that the team that had the stronger mental preparation and ability to rebound would win today,” said Gaels head coach Beth Barz after the game.

In their first game on Thursday, the second-seeded Gaels faced off against the host, Laval Rouge et Or, and earned their first round-robin victory at the CIS championships.

Although the Rouge et Or, a traditional powerhouse in the Quebec conference, were coming off a tough season in which they finished fourth in Quebec, they almost pulled off an upset behind a raucous home crowd.

Trailing 17-14 early in the second half, it was fourth-year lock Bronwyn Corrigan that scored the game-winning try in the 47th minute, as the Gaels earned a 19-17 victory.

“We were in tough against the host team who had a lot of fans there, and their coach said that they probably played their best game of the season,” Barz said. “They were well prepared and while we came out okay, we didn’t dominate in the first half which was our goal.

“At the end, when we needed to play well, we did just enough to win the game,” she added.

The Gaels then faced off against the third-seeded Canada West champions, the Alberta Pandas, on Saturday to determine who would advance to the gold-medal game.

Alberta came out victorious with a 32-12 win, relegating the Gaels to the bronze-medal match.

While fourth-year forward Kayla Roote scored the first points of the game with a try in the fifth minute, the Pandas rallied to score 20 straight points before halftime to take a commanding 20-5 lead into the intermission.

“It might have been the top two teams in the country playing each other today,” Barz said. “We were able to score pretty quickly, but we had a bunch of penalties in the next 20 minutes.” After the break, the Pandas added two more tries before the Gaels finally responded with a score of their own. While Queen’s continued to battle in the offensive zone, they weren’t able to pull off a miraculous comeback, falling by 20 points.

Alberta eventually defeated the Guelph Gryphons 29-10 in the gold-medal game, while the Gaels beat McGill to take bronze.

“This is a win that the program can build on,” Barz said. “Past teams have won CIS bronze and then went on to win the CIS gold and we believe that we have the ability to do that as well.

“Things are looking bright for the 2014 season.”

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