CIS dreams dashed

Western trumps Gaels in bronze medal match

Women’s rugby won’t have a chance to defend their CIS bronze medal after losing the OUA’s third-place match.

Queen’s dropped Saturday’s match to the Western Mustangs 22-19, preventing them from making the CIS tournament after two straight appearances at nationals. With the loss, the nationally sixth-ranked Gaels season came to an unanticipated end.

The loss was the culmination of several small issues, including mental setbacks from their semi-final loss to the Guelph Gryphons and several injuries that accumulated throughout the season.

“We sustained many injuries through the last two games – enough to make fielding a team beyond this past weekend doubtful,” head coach Beth Barz told the Journal via email.

A tough match from the first whistle, the Mustangs controlled most of the first half.

Western scored three consecutive tries throughout the half. They maintained possession and shut down the Gaels’ offensive attacks.

The Gaels avoided a first half shutout when wing Caitie Ryan crossed the goal line late in the opening frame. With the try, Queen’s trailed 19-5 heading into the break.

The Gaels stepped up their game in the second half, forcing the Mustangs to work for their win.

Centre back Lauren McEwen spearheaded the Gaels’ offence with back-to-back tries and two successful conversions.

The Gaels’ defence was also on point throughout the second half, only allowing the Mustangs to score off one penalty kick.

But the Gaels were never able to surpass the Mustangs, leaving the final score 22-19 for Western.

Co-captain Danielle Underwood said she wished there had just been a few more minutes for the Gaels to finish their comeback.

“We came out slow in the first half, but really turned it on in the second,” she told the Journal via email. “It honestly felt like we just ran out of time. If there had been five more minutes, I have no doubt that we would have won.”

The Gaels’ defence this season was less effective compared to previous years. In 2013, the women conceded 105 points; in 2014, they allowed 134 points and failed to shut out any opponents.

Underwood said the team struggled to connect their offensive and defensive performances.

“All season, we would have great offensive games and great defensive games, but they just never came together at once for us to reach our true potential,” she said.

Underwood said the loss will be the Gaels’ motivation heading forward into next season.

“I don't think anyone is going to quickly forget how devastated we feel right now,” she said. “Moving forward we'll be the underdogs again, we'll be focused, and we will come back fighting.”

Western will move on to the CIS championships along with two fellow OUA teams: Guelph and the McMaster Marauders. The tournament begins Thursday in Guelph.

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