The McMaster women’s rugby team took home the Ontario University Athletics bronze medal on Sept. 20 after a tough but well-fought battle against the York Lions.
The 36-19 win at Ron Joyce Stadium was the first win of the post-season after an unfortunate 15-20 loss to the Queen’s University’s Gaels in the OUA semi-finals. Though the team would have loved to have been able to win the silver or gold medal, they were more than satisfied with their bronze medal performance.
“This wasn’t the game we wanted to be in,” said Sara Svoboda who had been named, for a second year in a row, the Shiels Division Player of the Year the day before.
“Obviously we wanted to go for that OUA gold medal and have a spot at nationals, but I feel like the girls rallied around each other really well,” said Svoboda. “We put together a performance we can proud of and I think we ended the year on a high note.”
The Marauders’ performance started off with a slow start, as Megan Pakulis of the Lions was the first out of the two teams to score shortly after the game began. The Marauders responded quickly with an unconverted try of their own, bringing the lead to 7-5.
The Lions remained with the lead until freshman wing Khadija Brouillette broke out past the York players, running a nearly 50-yard try right under the posts. Svoboda followed the try with a successful convert, evening the game at 12.
Reminding the Lions why they were ranked second in the regular season in the Shiels Division, centre Britni French’s try brought the Marauders to lead the game 17-12 right before the halftime break.
Along with another penalty try from Brouillette, Svoboda, Maddi Cohoon and Taylor Price all contributed to the Marauders’ score sheet.
“We had a few goals going into today’s game and I think we accomplished a few of those,” said French post game. “We were aggressive, we came out and they scored on us but we gave it right back to them.”
After the game, the team celebrated the win with their family, friends and fellow Mac athletes. Rookie player Brouillette was more than happy with the outcome of her first OUA medal game.
“I think we did fantastic,” said Brouillette. “I’m so glad to be a rookie and part of the McMaster family. I love my team and can’t wait to come here for the next few years.”
Along with the team celebrating the win, they also celebrated Svoboda, French, Cassidy Calvert, and Selena Sequin being named 2017 Women’s Rugby OUA All-Stars.
Though their season just came to an end, the team’s focus is already on the next season. Over the next 10 months, they plan to evaluate what they need to do to get to the back to the gold level before they begin training camp in August 2018.
“In the next 10 months were going to work as hard as we can to get as strong, fast and as precise at tackling as we can,” said Brouillette. “So when we come out next season, they’re not going to know what to expect!”
“[We’ll also] hit the weight room,” added French. “The High Performance Area is our home, so we’re going to put in all the work that we can up there for the offseason.”
However, before this preparation begins, the next couple of weeks will be spent on reflecting and reviewing the 2017 season. As the Marauders set their sights on the Canadian University Sevens Championships in March, the team still has work to do.