Best season in program history falls just short of team goal
It was a day of heartbreak for the University of Ottawa women’s rugby team, who saw their hopes of becoming national champions come to an end in a 14-8 loss to the McMaster Marauders in the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) national championship semifinals on Nov. 7.
The match, along with the rest of the final games, was played in Kingston at Nixon’s Field, at Queen’s University. The Gees had initially qualified for the semifinal by defeating the very strong incumbent champions, the St. Francis Xavier X-Women, 29-7 on Nov. 5.
The Gees were cruelly eliminated by their rivals, who previously knocked the Gees out at the same stage of last year’s CIS National Championship tournament in Guelph.
In a tightly contested match dominated by tough defence from both sides, the Gees were unable to show up in their high-powered regular season form. A win would’ve secured a first national championship in the program’s history, and with the third seed coming into the match, the team felt that this could’ve been the year they made it to the finals.
The first half of the match against McMaster was littered with possession changes as both teams tussled for an advantage. Fullback Irene Patrinos scored a penalty kick giving Ottawa the thin 3-0 lead at halftime.
However, the Maurauders came out firing after the break, surprising the Gees with a quick try two minutes into the half. Despite the fast attack, Ottawa applied intense pressure and fell just short of a try multiple times.
In turn, the Marauders managed to score another try against the Gees late in the match. Gee-Gees lock Alex Ellis scored a try that proved to be just a consolation for the Gees, who performed admirably against the team that would eventually become the national champion.
“The girls performed the game plan perfectly, but we needed to punch it in. McMaster had two opportunities to score and they made them count,” Head Coach Jen Boyd told Sports Services.
With their hopes of a first national championship dashed, the Gees were to have no respite, as a bronze medal matchup against the familiar Concordia Stingers came the next day.
In a one-sided affair, the Gee-Gees found the endzone early and often as they smashed their conference rivals 65-7. The win perhaps tragically highlighted the special talent that this group of players has and the kind of game the team is capable of playing.
“(It) was pretty special, the girls bounced back from a tough loss yesterday and I’m really happy with the leadership of this team and they performed very well today,” Boyd told Sports Services after the win.
Nevertheless, a victory means that the Gees were crowned the national bronze medalists, an improvement on last year and the highest finish in team history.
The performance was surely something to build on and it is likely that the Gee-Gees will be just as strong next year.