Men’s rugby above & beyond

Provincial champs top our fall rankings; football fills out last spot after several early-season blunders

Captain Jacob Rumball (3) earned OUA MVP honours. Five other Gaels were named OUA All-Stars.
Captain Jacob Rumball (3) earned OUA MVP honours. Five other Gaels were named OUA All-Stars.
Football forfeited their first two games before losing the next three. They finished 3-5.
Football forfeited their first two games before losing the next three. They finished 3-5.
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1. Men’s rugby

The only fall team crowned provincial champions, men’s rugby is the clear top choice in our power rankings.

The Gaels won their third OUA title in as many years, bringing the program’s total to 21. Queen’s dominated most of their regular season matchups, shutting out three opponents and holding two others to single-digits in points.

The gang dropped only one match during the regular season, a back and forth affair against the McMaster Marauders that ended with the Gaels down 18-13.

The loss did nothing to derail the Gaels and it was repaid in a big way — a 61-0 spanking of the Marauders in the semi-finals.

The championship match versus the Guelph Gryphons didn’t begin as planned. The Gaels found themselves down 16-0 before turning things around and eventually winning 32-23.

Queen’s was led by a fifth-year contingent with a wealth of big game experience.

David Worsley was the OUA’s fourth-best scorer during the regular season, running in six tries and converting 21 kicks.

Worsley was named an OUA All-Star along with fellow fifth-year standouts James Dent, Tommy Kirkham, Jacob Rumball and Brendan Sloan, as well as second-year Kainoa Lloyd. Rumball was also awarded league MVP.

After yet another dominant performance, men’s rugby should be the front-runner for Queen’s varsity team of the year award.

— Brent Moore

2. Cross country

While individual success still defined cross country’s year, the road has been paved for overall success in 2015.

Julie-Anne Staehli maintained her place as one of Canada’s premier collegiate runners, snagging a provincial bronze medal on her home course. She followed that performance up two weeks later with CIS silver, just one spot shy of a repeat national gold medal.

With an All-Canadian performance from Claire Sumner, the Gaels brought home CIS bronze, matching the medal they won last year. The squad also captured bronze on the provincial level.

While the men couldn’t match the women’s success, a fifth-place OUA finish is nothing to scoff at. Last year’s top runner Jeff Archer sat out the season, and with the continued development of second-year Alex Wilkie, the men have the opportunity to make leaps and bounds in 2015.

As a program on the verge, the future is looking strong for both the men and women.

— Sean Sutherland

3. Women’s rugby

Women’s rugby couldn’t keep the crown atop their heads this season and failed to reach the heights they hit last year.

After capturing the first OUA title in program history last year, a fourth-place provincial finish was a disappointing outcome.

Besieged by injuries for most of the season, the squad finished second in their division.

The Gaels failed to qualify for the CIS championships this year despite the OUA having three berths. A 29-21 loss to the Guelph Gryphons in the provincial semi-final forced them into a bronze-medal match against the Western Mustangs, with a nationals berth assured to the winner.

Queen’s couldn’t prevail in London, prematurely ending their campaign well short of the CIS bronze earned last season.

Despite the outcome, there were still several positives from the year.

An explosive offence led by all-time Queen’s leading scorer Lauren McEwen racked up a league-leading 286 points in only five games.

Gillian Pegg joined McEwen on the All-Canadian squad. Another two Gaels — Miranda Seifert and Melody Clarke — were recognized at the OUA level.

With some of the core leaving next year, the team will be hard-pressed to contend with Guelph for the OUA title. But with the CIS tournament coming to Queen’s, the Gaels will once again have a chance to prove themselves on a larger scale in 2015.

— Sean Sutherland

4. Rowing

Both the men’s and women’s programs failed to surpass last year’s results in what was a rebuilding year for many boats.

It was a repeat performance at the OUA championships. The women seized silver while the men took home bronze.

Matt Christie won the heavyweight men’s single race and Larkin Davenport Huyer and Milica Banic combined to bring home gold in the women’s heavyweight double.

The women’s side collected four OUA silvers and a bronze. The men had three bronze.

At the Canadian University Rowing Championships, the women were boxed out of a podium finish and settled for fourth place at the event. Davenport Huyer picked up the Gaels’ only national gold, winning the women’s single.

The men’s team dropped to seventh place after finishing fifth last year.

Head coach John Armitage, who has led the program for 37 years, will be stepping down this offseason. Recruiting a top-notch coach will be crucial to the team’s continued success.

— Brent Moore

5. Men’s soccer

Head coach Christian Hoefler should be commended for his first season at the helm of the men’s soccer program, turning a team that failed to meet expectations last year into a potential contender.

This year’s squad boasted an improved record and defence. For the second year in a row, though, they didn’t make it past the second round of the OUA playoffs.

The men made definite strides on the defensive end, allowing only eight goals during the regular season compared with last season’s 17. There was also a slight increase in offensive production — 28 goals this year compared with 24 last year.

Great improvement was demonstrated over the season and culminated in a 9-2-5 record, third-best in the OUA East.

The only losses of the year came against the East’s top teams, bumping the Gaels well ahead of their 6-5-3 season in 2013.

Breakout rookie Jacob Schroeter led the team with six goals and will be counted on next year with the departure of veteran Eric Koskins.

Goaltender Max Materne led the OUA in save percentage at .927.

Defender Kristian Zanette was named an OUA East First-Team All Star while Materne, Chris Michael, Henry Bloemen and Schroeter were named Second-Team All Stars.

— Brent Moore

6. Women’s soccer

Exiting before the OUA Final Four was a new experience for the Gaels this year.

2014 marked the first time in six seasons Queen’s came up shy of the provincial semi-finals. A 1-0 loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the OUA quarterfinal meant a premature exit for the Gaels.

Hopes for the season were heightened by the return of striker Jackie Tessier, who became the program’s top scorer during the year. Injuries and inexperience would take their toll on the team, leaving them fourth in the OUA East at 9-4-3.

It now marks two years without a CIS tournament appearance. Most of the players from the 2012 national runners-up squad have graduated, leaving many young players in important roles.

The Gaels maintained a balanced performance throughout the season, sitting third in both goals for and conceded among OUA East teams. While their numbers were solid, occasional offensive lapses kept the team from meeting their potential.

Tessier and midfielder Jessie de Boer led the way with eight goals apiece. de Boer was named an OUA First-Team All-Star, as was defender Melissa Jung. Striker Brittany Almeida found a spot on the second-team.

While the season as a whole wasn’t a write-off, the expectations for women’s soccer are always high and the team just couldn’t meet them this year.

— Sean Sutherland

7. Football

The Gaels made history this year — just not in a good way.

On the way to missing the playoffs with a 3-5 record, the team also suffered the worst defeat in program history: a 66-0 thrashing at the hands of the Guelph Gryphons.

The loss was the fourth in a string of five straight to kick off the year. Their season-opening victory over the Windsor Lancers was forfeited due to the Gaels dressing an academically ineligible player in defensive back Brendan Morgan.

Unable to compete against the triumvirate of Guelph, Western and McMaster due to the lack of holdovers from last season’s Yates Cup finalists, Queen’s had to settle in among the middle of the pack.

While the three wins to finish the season were nice, they only provided bragging rights, as the Gaels were out of the playoff picture before they could win a game.

The season was a write-off, but several veteran players put forth top-rate efforts. Fifth-year slotback Alex Carroll led the league with 52 receptions for 875 yards and eight touchdowns, while quarterback Billy McPhee threw for an OUA-high 17 touchdowns.

Despite the standout performances from McPhee and Carroll, the season as a whole can only be described as disappointing.

— Sean Sutherland

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