It apparently wasn't meant to be for our Queen's Golden Gaels in the gold medal game of the CIS women's soccer championship -- they nearly had the UBC Thunderbirds down two goals early yesterday.
Queen's star striker, Eilish McConville, who'd set up a Renee MacLellan goal in the third minute, hit the woodwork midway through the first half. UBC tied it a short while later, scored again before the break and went on to a 3-1 win and the national title. From here, it was more or less expected, since the tournament was in B.C. and Canada West teams have dominated the tournament in recent years. Still, it was a kick to see a Queen's team get that far, since as a quote, unquote academic school, Queen's isn't exactly on the map, even in the CIS.
(Case in point: After the women's basketball Gaels finished fourth at nationals in 2001, a few players told the Queen's Journal's Greg McArthur (who's now a reporter for the Globe & Mail) that some players from other teams even asked them where Queen's was. (Like Americans need to ask where Harvard or Yale are, but that's neither here nor there.)
FOOTBALL FINAL FOUR
Back in pre-season some dim bulb wrote, "In most likelihood we're doomed to see Laval and Saskatchewan playing for the (Vanier Cup) on Nov. 25, but do not go gently into the good night."
Well, here we are and most observers, regardless of home field or what Laurier did last year, will probably favour the Saskatchewan Huskies to beat the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the Mitchell Bowl on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, The Score/RDS). Meantime, in the aftermatch of the Laval Rouge et Or's Dunsmore Cup win on Saturday, a RDS reporter apparently said to QB Benoît Groulx that playing Acadia in the Uteck Bowl "should be a good practice." Groulx, to his credit, didn't bite and did the song-and-dance about never disrespecting your opponent.
Our man Mattrak, for the record, says, "I reject the notion that the Quebec conference is that much stronger than the AUS." Whether or not that translates into Acadia, who are 0-3 against Laval, including a
Quick-hit thoughts on conference championship Saturday:
Can West: Saskatchewan 32, Manitoba 14: Just a painful loss for Brian Dobie's Bisons, who continue to show a knack for failing to take that next step as a program. Full marks to the Huskies, although they really only had one sustained drive while the game was still in doubt. Coming East for a national semifinal should pose no fear for them -- they did so in 2002 (at McGill) and 2004 (Vanier Cup vs. Laval in Hamilton). How well QB Bret Thompson will be able to freelance against Ottawa's defence is a main question; then again, there's no OUA QB who's as athletic as Thompson.
Ontario: Ottawa 32, Laurier 15: The Gee-Gees defence really hasn't given up anything in two playoff games when you consider that Laurier's TDs on Saturday came on a botched punt and a breakdown in pass coverage that led to a 98-yard gain.
Atlantic: Acadia 32, Saint Mary's 24: Acadia's probably pretty lucky -- how often does a team return a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in the same game? D-Back Najja Coley did the honours, and also scored the day's first TD on a 29-yard catch while lined up at receiver.
Some will wonder why Saint Mary's coach Steve Sumurah didn't turn to rookie QB Erik Glavic when the Huskies offence struggled with fifth-year senior Billy Robinson Jr. playing. Mattrak points out, "If they would have lost with the rookie, it would have been a terrible message to send to potential recruits: 'Do your time on the bench and your time will come. But when it will come, we will replace you with a rookie.' "
Quebec: Laval 28, Concordia 12: Guilliame Allard-Caméus, a second-year Rouge et Or running back, ran 18 times for 97 yards -- more than twice his average regular-season output -- and didn't even have a run over 15 yards. Interesting to see how Acadia, which just gave up 207 yards to Saint Mary's big back, Jacques Lumbala, will handle him -- especially when Laval has the ever-present threat of using the inside run to set up an end-around or jet sweep, like the one Nic Bisaillon scored on in Saturday's win over the Stingers.
Quick Carleton/Ottawa hoops note: Somehow, coach Dave Smart's No. 1-ranked Carleton Ravens eked out road wins over Windsor (73-71) and Western (57-53) on a weekend where they shot 26% on three-pointers (14 for 53). That's Ravenball for you: It's not the first time Carleton won a game where it didn't look very good in the stats. No doubt no one around that team was happy with their play, yet tell me how many teams would have managed to win two close games with such poor shooting (including 11 missed free throws against Western).
The Ravens play their first OUA home game on Friday at 8 p.m. against No. 6 Brock; meantime, the No. 4-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, who went 1-1 on their weekend trip to southwestern Ontario, have their home opener at the same time against Guelph. Gee-Gees swingman Donnie Gibson, a graduate of Ernestown Secondary School in Odessa (like this author), hit two three-pointers in a loss to Windsor on Saturday.
That's all for now. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.