The women’s rugby team, coming off a CIS championship tournament appearance a year ago, is right back in the thick of the hunt after earning an OUA quarter-final victory at home on Sunday, Oct. 14 over the York Lions. The Marauders, who finished the season with a record of 4-2, found a formidable opponent in the York Lions, who kept the game close until late.
Twenty minutes into the second half, the score was 19-14. From there, McMaster took control of the game, bombarding their opponents with several scores. By the final whistle, Mac had defeated their visitors from York handily by a score of 43-14.
The leading scorer for the Maroon and Grey was Stephanie Black of Ottawa, Ont. The rookie has been turning heads in the OUA as a scoring machine for her team this season. Black finished her first season tied for first points scored with 52, making her a candidate for OUA rookie of the year honors and possibly even CIS recognition.
“It’s really exciting for me. Competing for a top spot against players like Britt Ben and Nadia Popov is a real challenge, as they are both great rugby players. Even being considered at that level is really fun and rewarding. Most of my points come from kicking, however, meaning that it took the hard work of the rest of my team to lead to my success, giving me the chance to convert the kicks,” said Black.
Interestingly enough, Queen’s Nadia Popov, the player with which Black is tied in the scoring race is also eligible to receive such honors. The two players are closer than even the statistics would suggest.
“I had the opportunity to play with Nadia over Thanksgiving weekend, when we both attended a U20 Canada camp, and were placed on the same team. She is an awesome girl, and a great athlete who deserves the title just as much as I do. As our statistics suggest I’m sure it will be very close,” said Black of the rookie of the year race.
For Black, playing for McMaster is a simply a continuation of a life dedicated to competitive sports, but certainly it has been a new challenge for the 5’7” first-year.
“I have played high-level sports for most of my life, but coming to Mac was definitely the most intense level I have experienced yet in terms of commitment and expectations,” she said.
Next up for Black and the Marauders is the powerhouse Guelph Gryphons, who are defending OUA and CIS champions.
The first matchup between the two was closer than the 53-8 score line would suggest. Mac gave the Gryphons a run for their money, but couldn’t keep it close in the second half.
“Guelph is definitely a strong opponent, as we saw in our first league game against them. However, a lot has changed since then. We are really excited for the game this Saturday, as our whole season we have been preparing for this opportunity to test ourselves against one of the top teams in the country, a class that we hope to be included in,” adds Black.
Perhaps this time will be different, but it will certainly take something extra from not only Black, but also the entire Marauder team.
“As a team we are getting mentally and physically prepared to bring our A-game this Saturday. We plan to physically dominate Guelph. This means doing lots of fitness and contact in practice, as well as ensuring we execute drills well, even when we are tired. Personally I will be practicing my place kicking, making sure I can kick from all sides of the field, even under pressure,” she said.
“It’s going to be a battle this weekend and it could come down to a single kick.”
Regardless of the result this Saturday, the Marauders will have captured a second straight CIS-ranked, playoff season, and Black has been a big part of that.