A second chance after falling short

Team ends OUA season without medal but has second shot at success at CIS event 

The Gaels return to action Thursday at 7 pm in their national championship quarterfinal.
The Gaels return to action Thursday at 7 pm in their national championship quarterfinal.

After starting the season on a high note with four straight wins, inconsistent play caused the Gaels to crash out of the OUA playoffs without a medal.

In a rematch of last year’s bronze medal game, the Gaels faced off against the Western Mustangs on Saturday at Nixon Field.

The Mustangs locked down defensively, sealing their second straight OUA bronze medal with a 20-10 win.

When the two teams met earlier this year in exhibition play, the Gaels won 73-14.

Western was in control from the start in Saturday’s match. The Mustangs dominated possession, scoring the game’s initial try. After a failed conversion, the London side sat up 5-0.

Fourth-year Gillian Pegg attempted to get the Gaels on the board, running through the Mustang defence. But unfortunately for the home side, costly turnovers canceled out any attempts to score.

Western capitalized on these mistakes — they scored twice more and took a 15-0 lead at half.

At halftime, head coach Beth Barz reminded her players why they were ranked second nationally.

“We talked about line speed, connection, defence,” she said, “making sure that we are getting set and with a plan in attack, and then being able to communicate that plan by the time that the ball is in hand.”

After the break, the Gaels came out looking like a new team. Within a few minutes, Emma Chown scored a 25-meter try, cutting the Mustangs lead to only 10. 

With dominant possession, the Gaels found themselves on the scoresheet again within 10 minutes of play. Chown break through the Mustangs defence once more, scoring her second try of the game. After a missed conversion, the Gaels were only down 15-10, with more than 20 minutes left in the game. 

Unfortunately, mishandling of the ball in the game’s later stages came back to haunt the Gaels. With 15 minutes left, the Gaels turned over the ball, resulting in another Mustang score and extending their lead to 10.

The loss is the Gaels’ second straight season that ended without an OUA medal.

Despite the loss, Barz said the Gaels still did well, especially in the second half.

“From a defensive perspective we did a better job in tackling and competing for the ball,” Barz said. “Realistically, we are doing a lot of things right. It’s a few of our own mistakes that are hurting us.”

“The nice thing is that if it’s your own mistakes, you have the ability to change it.”

In the OUA gold medal game, an upset by the McMaster Marauders bounced the undefeated Guelph Gryphons out of the CIS tournament hosted by Queen's, starting this Thursday. As host, Queen's recieves an automatic bid into the championship.

Barz said McMaster will prove to be a difficult match-up in the national championships. In the latest CIS rankings, McMaster was ranked third nationally.

“Both teams [Guelph and McMaster] have legitimate shots at going ahead and doing well. We do as well — as much as it hurts to look at ending the season with two losses,” Barz said. 

“We have some games coming up this week, so our biggest thing is going to be re-grouping and recognizing that we can continue to turn around the season.”

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