The 2017 Gee-Gees women's rugby team captured the RSEQ Championship on Friday, October 27 with a 25-7 victory over the Laval Rouge et Or at Matt Anthony Field in Ottawa. It was the team's fourth straight conference championship, all won at home.
The Gee-Gees would go on to meet Laval again in the U SPORTS National Championship gold medal game, with Ottawa prevailing again to capture the program's first national championship title.
Ottawa held a 7-0 record in the 2017 regular season, although one win was initially a loss to Laval which then had to be forfeited. The Gee-Gees defeated Montreal 46-14 in the conference semifinal. The team had ten players selected as RSEQ all-stars, a program record: Samantha Alli (1st team), Dria Bennett (1st team), Emily Babcock (1st team), Taylor Donato (2nd team), Lauren Minns (1st team), Alexandra Ondo (1st team), Bianca Paiement (1st team), Breanna Phillipps (1st team), Emma Sandstrom (2nd team), Georgia Stewart (2nd team). Samantha Alli and Alexandra Ondo were named All-Canadians, while Lauren Minns won the RSEQ Rookie of the Year award. Head Coach Jen Boyd won her fourth consecutive conference Coach of the Year award.
The team lineup for the 2017 RSEQ Championship match was: 1. Danielle Erdelyi 2. Bianca Paiement 3. Alex Ellis 4. Tori Wyman 5. Breanna Phillipps 6. Lauren Minns 7. Emily Babcock 8 Danarae Sommerville 9. Taylor Donato 10. Emily Gray 11. Patricia Mandon 12. Emma Sandstrom 13. Dria Bennett 14. Samantha Alli 15. Alexandra Ondo 16. Daniella Ellis 17. Maya Montiel 18. Tanika Bonneville 19. Georgia Stewart 20. Paulina Karwowski 21. Erin McCallan 22. Rachel McCallan 23. Sam Bennett 24. Annabelle Clements 25. Kelsey Welsh
RECAP : Fourth straight RSEQ Championship for Gee-Gees
The Gee-Gees women's rugby team asserted itself in the second half of its RSEQ Championship match on Friday night against the Laval Rouge et Or, going on a 20-0 scoring run to capture a 25-7 victory and a fourth straight conference championship title.
Ottawa now heads to the U SPORTS National Championship tournament at the University of Lethbridge next week. Seeding and schedule will be announced by U SPORTS shortly. Full tournament information can be found on the U SPORTS Championship website.
"Our tight five today were just so dominant - at scrum, at lineout, on defence, and on attack," said Gee-Gees head coach Jen Boyd. "It's been a core group of them working with Duncan [McNaughton] and they really want this. We're just going to just ride on their backs in Lethbridge through three more games."
"Those scrums today felt so good and I'm really proud because we've really been putting a lot of work into them so we were able to come and execute and be confident," said RSEQ All-Star hooker Bianca Paiement. "The girls I play with make everything so worth it."
The score stood at 7-5 in favour of the Rouge et Or to begin the second half. Laval had struck first in the match, completing a series of quick passes before Mariane Guilbault scampered across the line for a try run just four minutes in. Emily Gray had the lone Gee-Gees try in the first half.
The Gee-Gees began the second half at full speed, scoring two tries in quick succession to take over the match. Outstanding tries from Alexandra Ondo and Dria Bennett padded the Gee-Gees lead to 17-7.
"I was actually told to go and position myself there and fight through people," laughed Ondo who emphasized the tactics behind her score. "Usually in that zone we'd have mostly forwards getting the ball but we saw an overlap in how the defence line was positioned."
Laval pushed back but was met by forceful tackling by Emma Sandstrom and Danarae Sommerville. Taylor Donato's pressure on a Laval ball-handler out of a scrum forced a turnover. Later, Emily Babcock pounced on a loose ball at midfield for another turnover.
"We've been here before - I told them to just trust their decisions and stick to them. We did a really good job in the second half," noted Boyd. "The senior leadership has really driven this team over the last few years. There's so many pieces to this and the team has earned it and it's great to see them earn the benefits of their hard work."
Ottawa's first game at the national championships will be played on Thursday Nov. 2. All matches will be webcast at http://sportscanada.tv/usports/
"For me it's big, it's my last three games that I'll play as a Gee-Gee," said Paiement. "We all know how we can play. When we don't play our full eighty minutes we know it doesn't feel good because we know we can do better. The last two games we've really played up to our potential and I just can't wait to continue doing that and go and compete against all of the best teams in the country with this group of 36 girls."