Women’s squad avenges last year’s defeat with historic victory

The University of Ottawa Women’s rugby team took on fellow Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) rival l’Université de Laval Rouge et Or in the U Sports National Championship game on Nov. 5. The big game was not unfamiliar territory for the Gee-Gees as they settled for silver a year ago.

However this year was different, and even the snow-covered field in Lethbridge, Alberta couldn’t stop the Gee-Gees, who headed into their last game undefeated in the tournament. The only loss that the Gee-Gees suffered all year was against the Rouge et Or, and this game proved to be as close as expected.

The Gee-Gees got the ball first, and Samantha Alli got the Gees their first big run as they tried to press early. After an early offside by Laval, the Gees placed a good kick to give them field possession on the throw, but the Rouge et Or stole the ball and looked to run. After a Gee-Gees infraction, Laval put the first points on the board less than five minutes in, going up to 3-0.

A dropped ball by Laval off a U of O penalty kick gave the Gees a chance to strike with good field position inside the Laval 20 with 15 minutes left to play in the half, but a penalty negated the Gee-Gees momentum and the Rouge et Or regained possession.

Daniella Ellis made a great run dragging defenders before Breanna Phillipps scored the first try of the game in a huge crowd of players. The convert was placed at a tough angle and it fell short. The Gee-Gees took a 5-3 lead with just over five minutes to play.

After an offside by Laval, the Gee-Gees were awarded a scrum within 10 yards of the try-zone. Dria Bennett got a great pass, jogging into the scoring zone to score the Gee-Gees’ second try to go up 10-3 with no time left to play in the first half.

Laval got their first good opportunity in the Gee-Gees’ end six minutes into the half off a big run and a punch in soon after. The convert was good and the game was tied at 10-10.

Following a breakdown penalty, the Gee-Gees elected to try to split the uprights. Emma Sandstrom hit the left post as the snowy conditions continued to be a factor.

A try for the Gee-Gees 15 minutes into the second half after a long injury timeout was scored by Danielle Erdelyi as she put her head down and found a way to touch the ball down in the try-zone. The convert fell short and the Gees held a 15-10 lead.

A big defensive stand by the Gee-Gees halted the Rouge et Or as they were no more than two meters from the try-zone with less than 20 minutes left to play.

As the final minutes ticked off the clock, the Gee-Gees’ defence would not give an inch. That defence turned into quick offense once they got a turnover and ran the field to pin the Rouge et Or in their end before Phillipps punched in her second try.

As the clock ran to 80 minutes and the referee called the game, the Gee-Gees won their first Monilex trophy as the best team in the nation with a 20-10 victory.

The U Sports National Championship MVP was Dria Bennett who was a force all game and tournament.