London Calling

With a Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) championship in their pockets, The Concordia women’s rugby team now set their sights on the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) national playoffs to be held in London, Ont. Concordia, which entered the playoffs as a third-ranked team, earned the national berth through a road victory over the Laval Rouge et Or in last Saturday’s QSSF final.

With a Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) championship in their pockets, The Concordia women’s rugby team now set their sights on the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) national playoffs to be held in London, Ont.
Concordia, which entered the playoffs as a third-ranked team, earned the national berth through a road victory over the Laval Rouge et Or in last Saturday’s QSSF final. The game was a matchup between offensive and defensive giants of the QSSF, with Laval scoring a league-high 269 points in the regular season and Concordia allowing a league-low 29. The opening minutes of the game was a tightly played affair by both teams, as No.1 ranked Laval was held scoreless through the first half. Stingers scrum half Melanie Tranchemontagne finally broke the deadlock in the 38th minute, scoring her first try of the season and one of the most important in her rugby career.
“We played better than them right from the beginning,” said Concordia head coach Graeme McGravie. “I think our forwards dominated them in set piece and from there we were able to do more things than them.”
Following halftime the Stingers sought to continue to shut down the Laval attack. Shortly after the second half began the team came up with a critical defensive play when the Rouge et Or brought the ball within one yard of the Concordia zone. The defenses held and the Stingers offense returned the favour soon after, when Larissa Andrusyshyn scored another try to put her team up 14-0.
The Concordia’s defensive efforts continued to frustrate the Rouge et Or, and the Stingers were able to feed off their momentum and that of the offence produced by fullback Patrica Lapierre. Lapierre was perfect on the day as she drove home two converts and a penalty kick that put her team up by three more points. Laval would score late in the game off of a try by Charlotte Vallieres-Villeneuve, the only points allowed by Concordia so far in the playoffs.
“Going into the game we knew what we had to do so it was just a matter of going into the game and executing,” said veteran Jennifer DeGuise. “We had a set goal through the past three games and it was to control them and play our game while dictating theirs.”
Aside from the fact that it earned them a trip to the nationals, the victory over Laval gave Concordia revenge for a 22-19 regular season loss at home and gave testimony to the improvements that the team has made through the season.
After playing the McGill Martlets to a 0-0 tie in the last regular season game, the first scoreless match ever in QSSF rugby history, the Stingers had a rematch with their cross-town nemesis in the first round of the QSSF playoffs. Concordia came out and pushed the Martlets around for much of the game, taking the match 10-0. These two games against McGill were the first time the Martlets were shut out in conference play, a streak that spans 80 QSSF regular season and playoff matches.
Following the victory the Stingers now return to the nationals for the first time since 1999 when they qualified as a wild card team. The 2007 Stingers are the second Concordia team to take home a women’s rugby QSSF championship since the 1998 squad beat McGill.
With the win, the road to a CIS national championship now passes through London. The Stingers will open the playoffs with a doubleheader Friday against Guelph at 12:30 p.m. and St. Francis Xavier at 3p.m. The Gryphons are one the second-highest scoring team in the Ontario University while the X-Women dominated the Atlantic division with a perfect 6-0 record and are the reigning national champions.

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