Photos from Silhouette Photo Archives
The McMaster women’s rugby team is well known at Mac for being one of the top athletic programs over the last few years. Winning the U Sports, formerly know as Canadian Interuniversity Sport, finals in 2015, in addition to taking three trips to the Ontario University Athletics playoffs over the last four years.
“Winning CIS was a crazy unreal feeling. Plus winning in November meant that whole year we were on top, which was pretty amazing,” said fifth-year outside back Madeleine Seatle. “We’ve also been lucky enough to go to three Nationals, so now just getting back there is all you can think about.”
For Seatle and the Marauders getting back there has not been as easy as the past. The team ended their regular season coming in third place in the OUA Shiels division with a 2-2 record. This is not exactly where they want to be, but they still plan to make the most of it.
In their last game of the season, the Marauders were faced with an uphill battle. Their opponents, the two-time OUA defending champions, the University of Guelph Gryphons, were not going to go down without a fight. Although coming off a big win against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, it seemed achievable.
“We had just lost against Queen’s, so we were really just looking to bounce back,” said Seatle on the victory against the Mustangs. “We really wanted to be in a better place so it was really just about getting out there, and getting back into a rhythm and playing a game we wanted to play.”
Against the Mustangs, Seatle lead the team in tries, bringing in three in the 71-10 victory. Madison Cohoon was right behind her with two while Kayla Boisvert, Cassidy Calvert, Britni French, Taylor Price, Tia Svoboda and OUA try leader Sara Svoboda all brought in one try each.
The win showed off the amount of depth the Marauders have in their line up, which is something that they have been able to boast about the past few years. Their incredible talent is what Seatle attributes to keeping her motivated through up and down seasons like this one.
“I have really amazing teammates who are just so motivated and so passionate about rugby,” said Seatle. “It’s hard not to feel motivated when you’re surrounded by amazing women every day, and you see how much work everyone puts in in.”
Going into the Guelph game, as hard as it was cracked up to be, the Marauders tried to keep one thing in mind.
“Our coach Tim [Doucette] keeps using the phrase, ‘these are tests’,” said Seatle. “This is our last regular-season game. After that, it’s going to be playoffs, and not that regular season doesn’t matter but playoffs are where it counts.”
Head coach Tim Doucette wanted the team to use the Guelph game to solidify their playing on offence and defence, pinpoint what they need to work on and to see where they match up with the best of the best. Unfortunately for them, the game did not end in their favour, but it was a learning lesson nevertheless.
“Going into the game, we were very focused because we knew that we wanted to really go out there and prove something to ourselves and to everyone else,” said Seatle. “Though it didn’t go the way we wanted it to, we were probably the most connected than we’ve ever been, and it was a great stepping stone and a learning point that will really help us in the playoffs.”
The lone try of the game was courtesy of Sara Svoboda, one of the few veteran leaders still left on the team. Although Svoboda, Seatle and French and other upper-years bring seasoned talent to the table, the majority of the team is still quite young and it shows in games like these.
Through their losses they are able to identify their weaknesses and to pinpoint what they need work on for not just the playoffs, but if they face a team like Guelph again. But first, the Marauders will host the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, on Oct. 5 at Ron Joyce Stadium. The Golden Hawks are in second place of the Russell division, sporting a 3-1 regular season record, and are not a team to be taken lightly. If the Marauders can pull off a win, they have a chance to bring home that OUA Championship once again.