Repeat attempt stuffed in Guelph

CIS championship dream hangs on bronze medal match

A back and forth match ended women’s rugby’s hopes for a second straight OUA championship.

The Gaels couldn’t hold onto an early second-half lead in the OUA semi-final on Saturday, falling 29-21 on the road to the Guelph Gryphons.

Despite the loss, Queen’s isn’t out of the race for an OUA medal. The team will compete for bronze Saturday when they head to London to face the Western Mustangs.

When Guelph and Queen’s met in the preseason, the Gaels triumphed 29-12. The Gaels also edged the Gryphons 19-15 in the OUA title match last October.

But this time around Guelph was able to capitalize on the Gaels’ slow start and weaker defence. Head coach Beth Barz said in an evenly matched game like the semi-final, Queen’s needed to get off to a quick start.

“We came out flat and didn't set the tone with our defense and ability to counter-ruck at the right time,” Barz said. ““Every team wants to be on the front foot going forward. We didn't do ourselves any favours to get ourselves there even though that is well within our control.”

Gaels centre Miranda Seifert was the first player from either team to score a try, putting Queen’s up 7-0 early.

Guelph responded soon after, closing the gap down to a two-point lead. Continuous back and forth play for the rest of half resulted in a 19-14 lead for the Gryphons heading into the second half.

The Gaels scored another try quick off the second-half whistle, adding a successful conversion to make it 21-19.

These would be the last points Queen’s put on the board. Guelph capitalized on a few Gaels errors to take the eight-point win and a spot in the OUA title match.

Even with the loss, Barz pointed out some strengths from Saturday’s game, highlighting the team’s mental toughness and perseverance.

“We showed some skill in a few moments in attack that culminated in our scores,” she said. “Both Devon Stride and Caitie Ryan had impressive games and Lauren McEwen hit some extremely difficult conversions to keep the score close.”

The winner of Queen’s match with the Mustangs on Saturday will take the final of three CIS championship berths allocated to the OUA.

Before any thoughts of CIS competition come in, the Gaels must regroup from the loss to Guelph and focus on Western. Barz is confident the team will be able to move past the defeat.

“We've re-focused, owned up to our mistakes and committed to being better next weekend,” she said. “If any team has the resilience and resolve to dig deep to show their true ability, this year's Queen’s women’s rugby team is the one to do so.”

Looking Back

The Guelph Gryphons knocked the Gaels out of the OUA post-season in five of the past six seasons. Here’s what happened in the last three losses:

Oct. 27, 2012: The Gaels fell four points shy of upsetting the Gryphons for the OUA title. While they couldn’t pull off the win in 2012, they vanquished Guelph the next year.

Oct. 22, 2011: Queen’s couldn’t keep up with Guelph as they were blown out 50-0 in the OUA semi-final.

Oct. 30, 2010: The Gaels were once again dominated by the Gryphons, losing 54-5 in the provincial final. Three current Gaels — Melanie Judges, Claragh Pegg and Devon Stride — were on the Gaels squad that year.

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