By Earl Zukerman
Three different players scored tries as the McGill Martlets defeated Ottawa 21-13 in a key women’s rugby matchup held in the nation’s capital, Friday.
The win moved McGill past the Gee-Gees in what served as both the first meeting between the clubs and the season finale for each team, clinching second place and home-field advantage in the eight-team RSEQ conference. The Martlets (6-1) will now host Ottawa (5-2) in a sudden-death semifinal slated for McEwen Field in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, during McGill’s Homecoming Week, on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m.
McGill, which led the confernce in scoring this year, wasted no time displaying their potent offence. They jumped into a 14-0 lead on tries by Casey Thorburn of St. John’s, Nfld., in the fifth minute and Deanna Foster of Caledon, Ont., midway through the first half. It was the league-leading 13th try of the season for Foster, a political science sophomore,
Ottawa appeared to wake up near the end of the half as they spent most of their time on McGill`s side of the field. Nevertheless, McGill, which owns the league’s second-best defensive record, halted Ottawa from capitalizing on key opportunities.
Ottawa continued to pressure in the second half, forcing the ball deep into McGill’s end early on. But the Martlets began to take the upper hand midway through the period and grabbed a commanding 21-0 lead on a try by Erica Saabas of Hamilton, Ont.
Brianna Miller, a 5-foot-6 back from Pte. Claire, Que., rounded out the scoring for McGill, by converted three tries and all but wrapped up her third league scoring title in as many years. The physical education senior has 98 points in seven games, scoring four tries, four penalty goals and 33 conversions. She is McGill’s all-time leading scorer with 368 points in 26 career regular season contests.
Ottawa reduced the gap to 21-8 with a try by Simone Savary and a penalty goal from team scoring leader Irene Patrinos. The Garnet and Grey made one last push with five minutes remaining in the contest as Pauline Karwewski pushed the ball into the endzone for a try.
McGill, which owns a 6-2 record overall, will host St.FX in an exhibition match for the McEwen Cup, on Sunday, Oct. 13, in the back end of a two-game, total points series. The Martlets have their work cut out for them as they dropped the first meeting 29-0 in Antigonish, N.S., on Sept. 1.
Acadia leads the AUS conference with a 6-0 record, outscoring their opponents by an astounding 476-10 margin. McGill finsihed league play at 6-1, outscoring the opposition 310-78.