Season grades for fall varsity teams

The Journal’s sports editors evaluate how Queen’s teams fared in their 2018-19 campaigns

The football team missed the playoffs with a 3-5 record.

Grading fall performances for Queen’s varsity teams followed months of close evaluation. We considered each individual team’s pre-season expectations and whether they followed through on them. It’s a highly subjective, unscientific process that’s based off the backbreaking losses, hair-raising wins and shocking athletic plays that happened throughout the season.

Men’s rugby: A+

Key results: OUA champions, five OUA all-star selections, coach of the year 

When it comes to picking the best team at Queen’s, men’s rugby can’t be beat—literally. 

The Gaels’ perfect 10-0 record this season justifies our perfect A+ grade. With their sixth OUA title in seven years, Queen’s hasn’t lost a game in over two years and currently ride a 20-game win streak. This season, the team won by an average margin of 59 points—scoring, on average, 69 points and conceding just 10 per match. Defensively, they never allowed more than 22 points in a single match. 

Alongside their impressive stats, five Gaels were awarded All-Star honours, with Alex Pipchuk winning the Trillium Award, and second-year Head Coach Dave Butcher receiving the OUA Coach of the Year distinction.

Women’s cross country: A

Key results: OUA champions, U Sports Silver, Brogan MacDougall—OUA and U Sports champion

Until the U Sports Championship last weekend, nearly everything had gone right for the women’s cross country team. 

With the loss of Claire Sumner over the summer due to graduation, rookie Brogan MacDougall filled a void in the team by winning all four of her races, including the OUA and U Sports championships. 

Meanwhile, the team’s back-half runners—including first-time cross country runner Makenna Fitzgerald—displayed maturity on the season’s biggest stages. Although the women fell seven points short of winning the U Sports championships, they proved they have a foundation in place for future success. 

Rowing: A

Key results: 11 OUA medals, seven CURC medals

Showing steady improvement over last season, the women’s team finished silver and the men bronze at this year’s OUA championships. 

Overall, the Gaels brought home 11 medals at the championship regatta—nine gold and two silver. At the national championships, the rowers picked up seven in their individual events, four of which were gold. 

Notably, fourth-year Gavin Stone—who was named the OUA Male Athlete of the Year after his double OUA gold—won the men’s 1x final at nationals.

Paired with Stone’s recognition were Coaches Rami Maassarani and Michael Davidson, who received OUA Coaches of the Year honours. 

Women’s rugby: B+

Key results: OUA silver, sixth-place finish at U Sports championships

After finishing their season with a 3-1 record and a loss in the OUA finals, the women’s rugby team competed in three matches at the U Sports championships in Wolfville, N.S, where they finished sixth in the country. Now finishing their second campaign with Dan Valley as head coach, Queen’s is settling into one of the top programs in Canada.

Along with their appearance on the national stage, the Gaels’ roster received massive recognition for their efforts this season. Second-year Sophie de Goede, who won U Sports Rookie of the Year last year, was named the U Sports Player of the Year—the first Gael to ever receive the title. She was also named a First Team All-Canadian with teammate and second-year Rachel Hickson. 

Men’s cross country: B+

Key results: Lehigh Invitational champions, OUA silver, fifth at U Sports championships

While the men’s team ultimately maintained their fifth-place position at the U Sports championships—precisely where they finished last year—there was a different sense about their 2018-19 iteration. With a healthy Mitch De Lange leading the charge, the men raced to second place at the OUA championships, beating out the reigning U Sports champion Guelph Gryphons in the process. Looking determined to make a podium run at nationals, the Gaels were hit by a small handful of late-season injuries which slightly derailed their hopes to a medal on the national stage. But with a strong handful of young talent carrying into next season, the Gaels will have the opportunity to use this year to their advantage in 2019-20.  

Women’s soccer: B

Key results: Second in OUA East, Jenny Wolever—OUA East MVP

It was a season of ups and downs for the women’s soccer team. Powered by the electric fourth-year and OUA East MVP Jenny Wolever’s conference second-best 13 goals, the Gaels walked their way to another OUA Final Four.  

Failing to improve on last season’s bronze medal finish, they lost both of their final games, narrowly missing a national championship berth. Finding offensive power was sometimes a struggle for the team—they scored just four goals in theirfinal six games.

Men’s soccer: B-

Key results: Fourth in OUA East, first-round playoff loss

The men’s soccer team made a surprise rebound this season, finishing with a 9-6-1 record after going 6-8-3 last year. Placing fourth in the OUA, nine points ahead of the Nipissing Lakers, their season-long buildup came crashing down when they fell to the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs—the third straight season they’ve lost the postseason’s opening match.

Football: C-

Key Results: Eighth in the OUA

It was a confusing season for the football team. In a league experiencing unparalleled levels of parity, more than once the Gaels proved they could trade punches with Canada’s best. Losing 26-23 to Western, the eventual Yates Cup champions, and dumping Guelph, last weekend’s Yates Cup finalists in overtime, there was never a doubt that Queen’s were a playoff team. Yet, they were unable to pull through on numerous occasions. Losing their final three games by an average margin of 3.6 points, the Gaels failed to rise in the big moments this season. As a consequence, they missed the playoffs altogether and will face significant challenges next season with a number of key players on their way out.

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