With an emphatic weekend win the Maroon and Grey have clinched the OUA’s Russell Division crown.
By beating the Trent Excalibur 48-12 on Oct. 7, the McMaster women’s rugby team earned a 5-0 record. With 24 regular season points, the Marauders have won home field advantage for next week’s playoff game against the Toronto Varsity Blues.
Rookie Cindy Nelles continued to impress, leading her team with 16 points in the form of two tries and three converts. Adding two tries each were Claire Lockhart and Hannah Braithwaite.
Victoria Sawatsky and Sarah Berry also scored, with Maggie Cogger-Orr adding a convert on a day that saw a very balanced scoring attack on the part of the Marauders.
Despite the undefeated record, coach Cam Mitchell made it clear that this was not his team’s ultimate goal.
“We’re happy with it, going undefeated in the regular season, but we just have to think that we haven’t won anything yet and keep reminding ourselves of that, because there’s no trophy or medal for winning the regular season.”
When asked if the impressive record relieved the stress any rookie coach inevitably feels, Mitchell stayed on point, praising his team and reiterating their goal.
“I think that we had to go 5-0 as a team. I’m very happy with it, but we haven’t won anything yet.”
It was an impressive regular season nonetheless, one that saw the Marauders outscore their opponents 232 to 54. That offensive output was tops in McMaster’s division, and second only to OUA powerhouse Guelph.
McMaster now takes on a Toronto team which they trashed 69-7 on Sept. 24 in Scarborough. Coach Mitchell outlined his approach to playing a playoff game against a team that was handled so easily by his squad just three weeks ago.
“We’re going in with the thought that it’s a completely different team we’re playing. They beat Waterloo who we thought would be one of our biggest competitors and they put up over 20 points against Queen’s, who we were very close with, so we think that they’re peaking at the exactly right time and they’re going to give us a very good game.”
Despite a grueling regular season of rugby coming to an end, Mitchell has no plans to change his team’s habits this week as they prepare to take on the Varsity Blues. The coach plans to run his team as hard as ever.
“I think we got here by working hard in practice, playing a lot of games, doing contact, so the hard work we do in practice carries over to the games. So I don’t want to scale back the intensity too much because I think that might scale back our intensity in the game.”
Trent will take on the second-place Queen’s Gaels in the other Russell Division quarterfinal, with Brock squaring off against Waterloo and Guelph taking on the Western Mustangs in the Shiels Division quarterfinal games.
Guelph also ran the table this year in the OUA, with an astonishing plus-445 point differential through five games. They are ranked second in the nation and have faced virtually no real opposition this season. Many are looking towards a potential match up between the Marauders and the Gryphons in the OUA Championship game. Coach Mitchell explained his game plan for Guelph in one word.
“Pressure. Basically their games so far have been semi-contested training runs. No one’s put them under pressure. They’ve scored at will, so I think if we can work hard against them, work hard and put them under pressure, they won’t have experienced that before and we can probably give them a game.”
The Marauders will start their journey through the OUA playoffs on Oct. 15 at Back Ten Field. Game time for the quarterfinal matchup is 12 p.m.