KINGSTON, Ont. (CIS) –The second-seeded McMaster Marauders lay claim to their first Monilex Trophy with a 27-3 win over the tournament host and No. 8 Queen's Gaels in the gold-medal final of the CIS women's rugby championship, Sunday afternoon at Nixon Field.
It was a return trip to the national final for the OUA champion Marauders, who dropped a wild 43-34 decision to StFX in last year's title match in Guelph. McMaster had also lost 15-10 to Guelph on hometurf in Hamilton in the final of the inaugural CIS championship back in 1998.
With the win, the new Monilex Trophy champs also avenged their only loss of the season, a 15-14 setback against Queen's in their OUA opener at Nixon Field on Sept. 13.
Four days after being named the CIS player of the year, fourth-year McMaster standout Cindy Nelles was voted championship MVP after scoring two tries in the most important game of the campaign.
"It's absolutely been an incredible journey," said Nelles. "This team has come so far from when I first came to McMaster and it's been absolutely amazing to be a part of that journey."
"It's a huge reward for the amount of work that the players have done this season," said an excited head coach Shaun Allen. "The coaches all of the staff were so well supported by our department, by the school, by the other athletes it's amazing. I'm incredibly proud right now."
Despite the loss, Queen's still achieved the best result in program history, surpassing a CIS bronze medal in 2013. Head coach Beth Barz credited the Marauders for their play but was also proud of her group.
"They worked their tails off the whole game, realistically McMaster had a pick-and-go that we had a hard time stopping even though we certainty worked to do it and had some success at times. It sure was fun to watch our team this tournament and man they played with a lot of heart today."
The OUA teams traded penalty kicks early in the Gold Medal match with McMaster's Ashley Gordon (Brampton, Ont.) missing theirs while Lauren McEwen (Wasaga Beach, Ont.) kicked through the goal for the Gaels giving them the advantage of an early three point lead.
The Gaels fell back on the defensive as McMaster powered forward, handing the ball off to Colleen Irowa (Innisfil, Ont.) who fought through to smack down the first try of the match. Off the good convert by Stephanie Black (Oakville, Ont.) McMaster pulled ahead 7-3.
Queen's drew the Marauders out of their end with strong drives forward by Pippi McKay (Toronto) but McMaster wouldn't let them see the five metre line, keeping play at midfield for the majority of the half.
Gordon took off from the pack, running deep into the Gaels end only to be stopped by Queen's flanker Emma Chown (Barrie, Ont.) who caught her just before she could reach the try zone. The fight was along the Gaels try zone as McMaster boasted big offensive attacks against the Gaels defensive line. In an impressive showing of tight defence, the Gaels held off McMaster until the halftime whistle keeping the deficit at just four points.
McMaster finished what they'd started at the end of the first with Irowa bursting onto the pitch to push across her second try two minutes into the beginning of the second half. The Marauders didn't stop there, as they returned to the Queen's try line sending CIS All-Canadian Cindy Nelles (Belleville, Ont.) through a seam in the Gaels defence to put down another try, stretching their lead to 17-3.
The gold medal was in the grasp of McMaster as they returned to the Gaels end, mauling over the try line with Katie Svoboda (Belleville, Ont.) touching down the score. Nelles followed her lead eight minutes later heading another matching maul try.
Late in the half, the Marauders found themselves on their heels for the first time in the match as Queen's charged their defence off a steal by McEwen. The Gaels tried to push through to get more points on the board but the Marauder defence could not be beaten.
Although the final minutes were dominated by the Gaels, the match belonged to the McMaster Marauders who let the clock run out to win CIS gold.
All-Canadian Svoboda was honoured as player of the game for McMaster. Miranda Seifert (Regina) received the nod for Queen's.
MAC 7-20: 27
QUE 3-0: 3
QUE - Lauren McEwen penalty goal 8th minute (QUE 3 - MAC 0)
MAC - Colleen Irowa try (Stephanie Black convert) 14th (QUE 3 - MAC 7)
MAC - Colleen Irowa try 2nd (QUE 3 - MAC 12)
MAC - Cindy Nelles try 5th (QUE 3 - MAC 17)
MAC - Katie Svoboda try 13th (QUE 3 - MAC 22)
MAC - Cindy Nelles try 21st (QUE 3 - MAC 27)
Players of the game
MAC: Katie Svoboda (Belleville, Ont.)
QUE: Miranda Seifert (Regina)
Try: 5 points
Penalty goal: 3 points
Convert: 2 points
Championship MVP: Cindy Nelles (Belleville, Ont.), McMaster
R.W. Pugh Fair Play award: Acadia Axewomen
Cindy Nelles (Belleville, Ont.), McMaster
Colleen Irowa (Innisfil, Ont.), McMaster
Gillian Pegg (Oro-Medonte, Ont.), Queen's
Lauren McEwen (Wasaga Beach, Ont.), Queen's
Simone Savary (Brampton, Ont.), Ottawa
Jessica Lynn Foran (Nepean, Ont.), Ottawa
Irene Patrinos (Mississauga, Ont.), Ottawa
Alexandra Tessier (Ste Clothilde de Horton, Que.), Concordia
Caitlin Harvey (Scarborough, Ont.), Victoria
Pam Buisa (Gatineau, Que.), Victoria
Jess Neilson (Victoria, B.C.), Victoria
Sarah Gordon (Surrey, B.C.), Lethbridge
Nicole Ronsky (Calgary, Alta.), Lethbridge
Maddie MacKenzie (Peterborough, Ont.), Acadia
Veronique Russell (Markham, Ont.), Acadia
1. Acadia (AUS champions: 5-1 regular season / 2-0 conference playoffs)
2. McMaster (OUA champions: 4-1 regular season / 3-0 conference playoffs)
3. Ottawa (RSEQ champions: 7-0 regular season / 2-0 conference playoffs)
4. Victoria (Canada West champions: 2-2 regular season / 2-0 conference playoffs)
5. Concordia (RSEQ finalists: 6-1 regular season / 1-1 conference playoffs)
6. StFX (AUS finalists: 5-1 regular season / 0-1 conference playoffs)
7. Lethbridge (Canada West finalists: 0-3-1 regular season / 1-1 conference playoffs)
8. Queen's (Hosts: 4-1 regular season / 1-2 conference playoffs)
SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Thursday, Nov. 5
13:00 Quarter-final 1: Ottawa 29, StFX 7
15:00 Quarter-final 2: McMaster 62, Lethbridge 14
17:00 Quarter-final 3: Concordia 34, Victoria 12
19:00 Quarter-final 4: Queen's 24, Acadia 17
Friday, Nov. 6
Saturday, Nov. 7
11:00 Consolation 1: Lethbridge 20, StFX 12,
13:00 Consolation 2: Victoria 55, Acadia 12
15:00 Semifinal 1: McMaster 14, Ottawa 8
17:00 Semifinal 2: Queen's 27, Concordia 13
Sunday, Nov. 8
11:00 Fifth place: Victoria 27, Lethbridge 24
13:00 Bronze medal: Ottawa 65, Concordia 7
15:00 Championship final: McMaster 27, Queen's 3