After a shutout victory, women’s rugby is now a single win away from going undefeated in the regular season for the second straight year.
On Saturday, the nationally third-ranked Gaels bested the winless Toronto Varsity Blues 38-0 and cemented their status as the best team in the Russell Division, improving their record to 4-0. Queen’s will now finish first in the division, regardless of the result from next week’s game against the Waterloo Warriors.
The Gaels will host the fourth-seeded team from their division in the OUA quarterfinals on Oct. 12.
“In general, we did what we wanted to do, in terms of giving people some rest [in the second half], and being able to give others some playing time,” said Queen’s head coach Beth Barz. “There are still some parts of our game that we need to improve on, but we’re getting there.”
The Varsity Blues were stout on defence to start the game, as the Gaels showed little forward progress early on. Dropped balls and somewhat sloppy play didn’t help as the two teams remained tied at 0-0 until the 23rd minute. That’s when Gaels captain Taylor White broke through for a try, after a great initial run from rookie wing Karley Heyman.
Heyman scored a spectacular try of her own just minutes later, beating a Toronto player with a great juke and then out-sprinting everyone down the length of the field for a score. With converts from third-year centre Lauren McEwen and a missed penalty goal from Toronto, the Gaels led 14-0 at halftime.
“I just saw some gaps,” said Heyman of her highlight reel play. “I looked at the space and then took it and was able to create my own space.”
After the halftime break, Queen’s defence continued to dominate the Varsity Blues with their superior strength and speed. In the 63rd minute, third-year centre Mel Judges made two stiff-arm moves and executed a pass to fourth-year wing Natalie Poirier, who scored a try.
The Gaels managed to score 24 straight points in a 15-minute span late in the game, while preventing Toronto from making a charge with timely tackles on defence.
Fourth-year lock Bronwyn Corrigan scored back-to-back tries while Judges scored one of her own in the dying moments of the match, as Queen’s finished off the blowout victory.
“We didn’t start as well as we should have, but we got through it and started working together as a team more in the second half,” Heyman said.
The Gaels will host the Waterloo Warriors (3-1) on Oct. 5, in their only crossover game against the Shields (West) Division. Queen’s defeated Waterloo 36-27 in the OUA semifinals last season at Nixon Field.
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