Amidst the FOCO chaos last Saturday, Women’s Rugby met the Western Mustangs on Nixon Field for the OUA semi-final game. The Gaels were beyond ready for the Mustangs, coming into the game well-rested after their undefeated season earned them a first-round bye.
“I think we were pretty excited going in,” Head Coach Dan Valley said in an interview with The Journal.
“Western came out of the gates really quickly the last time we played them, and we didn’t, so we knew coming into this that that was our first challenge: to come in flying out of the gate and exceed their energy in every aspect of the game and everywhere we could on the park.”
Queen’s brought the momentum from the very first kickoff. Maggie Banks started the Gaels off with a try in the first minute; her teammates matched and maintained her energy for the rest of the game.
“I was really happy with the way we were able to come out of the gate swinging and set pace with our scrums and our line-up. We were pretty clinical,” Valley said.
Queen’s had no trouble executing their gameplan as they continued to flip the scoreboard in their favour, conducting a smooth operation from start to finish.
Lizzie Gibson led the country in regular season scoring and put up 25 points this game, 10 being conversions. 11 other players combined for Queen’s other 65 points.
“We’ve got an excellent group of forwards and they’ve put in a lot of energy and effort to refine their craft and they take a lot of pride in what they do. It’s been exciting to watch,” Valley said.
He also recognized the back line for maintaining momentum.
“Our back line has the pace, the energy, and the electricity to finish the job.”
Western worked hard to set up solid scrums throughout the game, but Queen’s didn’t budge. Valley said Queen’s had no trouble moving “them around the park.”
The Gaels have found continued success this season because of how they’ve approached their games and opponents.
“I think we’ve done a really good job—especially as we’ve gotten later into the year—focusing on us and our performance as opposed to whoever it might have been on the other side of the park lining up against us,” Valley said.
“We’ve been talking about recently striving for excellence as opposed to perfection and knowing that we’ve got all of the tools that we need to go out and be successful.”
The Gaels focused more on maintaining possession and building pressure as opposed to scoring tries, yet still put up 90 points as they blanked Western.
With each additional try, the packed bleachers erupted. Fans of all ages with differing levels of soberness showed up to support.
Some Queen’s students were quick to draw on the Western rivalry as they chanted “Western can’t do math” and “Western’s mom does their laundry” at the players. It was a unique atmosphere for an OUA semi-final.
Queen’s will return to Nixon Field again tonight for the OUA Final against Guelph.
“We know when we are getting in the ring with Guelph that that is always going to be a competition and that is always going to be a fun physical contest,” Valley said.
“It’s about the journey, not the destination, and making sure that we’re having fun along the way.”
home game, OUA championship, playoff, rugby, Western, win
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