CIS

Photo: Marta Kierkus

Playoff wins prove the Gees deserve a place among the elite

The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s rugby team were officially crowned as champions of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) on Oct. 31 at Matt Anthony Field.

The team faced off against a tough Concordia Stingers team in the final, after securing their finals berth with a win against the Université de Montréal on the previous Sunday.

This is the second consecutive conference championship that the Gees have won and illustrates the remarkable story of a program that was toiling in mediocrity just a few short years ago. The game also saw a host of individual honours, as several Gee-Gee members were recognized for their high levels of performance throughout the season and their careers.

With the win, the Gee-Gees have earned a spot as a contender in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) final tournament, where they will battle to be the best women’s rugby team in the country.

Their playoff road began with the Gees’ matchup against the Montréal Carabins in the RSEQ semifinals, running to a comfortable 37-3 win.

The Gee-Gees got off to a blitzing start as they scored three tries, two conversions, and a penalty kick to lead the Carabins 22-0 in the first half. The Gees continued their energetic display with two tries at either end of the period to punctuate a dominant performance.

Despite isolated periods of intense offensive pressure from the Carabins, the Gees were able to hold strong the entire game—with the only Montréal points coming from a penalty kick in the dying moments of the game. After the game, head coach Jen Boyd expressed her happiness with the way the season had played out and looked forward to facing Concordia, saying  they were “the team we wanted.”

The Concordia Stingers team, who finished the season 6-1-0, were widely touted as being Ottawa’s biggest conference challengers.

In a close game, the Gees showed their nerves in the opening frame as the Stingers stormed to an early lead with two quick tries in the first 15 minutes of the game. This proved to be the catalyst for the Gees as they then responded with three quick tries of their own to gain a 17-10 lead at the half.

Only allowing Concordia one more try and nabbing one of their own, the Gee-Gees managed to eke out the tough 25-17 win for the conference championship crown.

Ottawa-native centre Ashley Strike was selected as MVP of the match for her tremendous defensive performance, which included a show-stopping block as the Stingers attempted to kick the ball from their end zone.

Another performance to note was that of fullback Irene Patrinos, whose deadly kicking and electric speed was simply too much for the Stingers to handle. The Mississauga native scored two tries and a long conversion in the game. Boyd said after the game that she was “elated” with the win and was especially pleased with her team’s kicking and line-ins.

The Gees, along with the Stingers, will now go on to the CIS national rugby championships hosted at Queen’s University in Kingston Nov. 5-8.

Despite being ranked as the second-best team in the nation, the Ottawa squad is being largely underrated for the upcoming tournament due to their weak division. No team from the RSEQ has won the CIS national women’s rugby championship in nearly 60 years, and the Gees face an uphill challenge if they are to break yet another record this season.

Their first round matchup is a team they have seen and beaten in exhibition play a matter of weeks before. They will take on the St. Francis Xavier X-Women on Nov. 5 at 1 p.m.

If anything, the Gee-Gees have proven that they stare unshaken in the face of adversity, and this next test might be their biggest yet.