By Earl Zukerman and Jill Barker
Brianna Miller of Pointe Claire, Que., accounted for 16 points as the sixth-ranked McGill women’s rugby team outlasted No.4 Concordia 41-34 to claim the Christine Regimbald trophy as RSEQ conference champions, Friday night.
It was the 10th league title for the Martlets — their first since 2005 — who advance to the CIS national championship in Quebec City, Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
It may have been a cool night, in near freezing temperatures at Concordia Stadium, but the Martlets were on fire, dethroning the defending league champion Stingers, who had won nine straight head-to-head battles, dating back to the last McGill victory over their cross-town rivals, a 14-10 decision at Concordia on Sept. 7, 2008.
Concordia, which finished atop the RSEQ standings with a perfect 7-0 record, entered the Quebec final holding four of the last six league banners.
“Everything clicked,” said an exuberant Miller, a physical education senior who won Game MVP honours after scoring one try, converting four others and adding a penalty goal. “We knew we could do it. We believed in ourselves and the system our coaches laid out for us. If we follow the game plan, we’re going to do great things at Nationals.”
McGill’s foot speed was too much for the Stingers to handle with Caroline Suchorski, a science junior from Kirkland, Que., running in for a pair of tries. Sophomore Deanna Foster of Caledon, Ont., veteran Casey Thornburn of St. John’s, Nfld., and senior Caroline Binette of Montreal, added one try apiece.
Binette, whose try proved to be the game-winning tally, suffered a season-ending broken clavicle with about 10 minutes remaining in the game.
The Martlets led 24-12 at halftime and 38-15 midway through the second stanza but a determined Concordia squad mounted a valiant comeback, pushing their way into contention with a couple of late tries.
Hughanna Gaw, a senior from Elgin, Que., paced the Stingers with a pair of tries. Singles went to Solange De Blois, Samantha Ewing and Jenna Giuliani. Rounding out the scoring was rookie Alexandra Ste. Marie with three conversions and a penalty goal.
The McGill women will take an 8-1 record into the Nationals, including a 2-0 mark in post-season play.
MARTLET MURMURS: The RSEQ all-stars and award winners were formally presented after the game. Brianna Miller, who led the league in scoring, earned all-conference honours and was named as the league MVP. Joining her on the league all-star team was Deanna Foster. Concordia had six selections, while Laval and Montreal had two apiece, Sherbrooke, Carleton and Ottawa each had one honoree. Rookie of the year honours went to Concordia’s Alexandra Tessier. The citizenship award was merited by Sherbrooke’s Cynthia Jade-Renaud and coach of the-year honours went to Concordia’s Graeme McGravie.