By Martin Cleary
If there is a given in the RSEQ conference women’s rugby season, it has to be the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees will go head to head with the Université Laval Rouge et Or in the championship game.
It has been that way for the past seven years.
The Gee-Gees won the first three encounters from 2017 through 2019. After the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 season, the Rouge et Or took control as champions in 2021 and 2022.
So, when the two highly-talented 15s sides met again Saturday in Laval, the game could have gone either way. Laval edged Ottawa 14-12 on the opening week of the regular season and cruised to a perfect 6-0 season. Ottawa went undefeated the rest of the way to finish second at 5-1.
After posting decisive semi-final victories, the Gee-Gees avenged their season-opening loss in style. They handled the wind and rain well, proved to be the dominant team and turned back the Rouge et Or 27-12 in the championship game.
Ottawa’s seventh RSEQ championship in nine competitive seasons assures it a berth in the U Sports national championship, which runs Nov. 1-5 at Laval. On four other occasions, the Gee-Gees have been RSEQ championship finalists – 2022, 2021, 2005, and 2004.
The Gee-Gees led throughout the game and the Rouge et Or didn’t score in the first half. Ottawa held a 24-0 lead 15 minutes into the second half against Laval, which had the league’s best offence with 354 points for and the best defence, allowing only 22 points in six games.
RDEQ first-team all-stars Ketsia Kamba (lock) and Emma Wade (hooker) scored two trys each in the gold-medal game, while Deborah Oyetoran added the other five-point score. Aurora Bowie kicked one convert and Tylo Borsboom was named the game MVP.
Joining Kamba and Wade on the RSEQ first all-star team were teammates Ngozi Mosindi (wing) and Borsboom (flanker). The second all-star team included Gee-Gees’ Sarah White (centre), Rachel Steel (lock), Leigha Stiles (lock) and Oyetoran (prop).
Kamba ranked fourth in RSEQ scoring with a career-best nine tries and 45 points, while Bowie was sixth with two tries and 11 converts for 32 points. Borsboom and Mosindi counted six tries apiece, while playing only five regular-season games.
Carleton University Ravens had two players named to the RSEQ second all-star team – Anna Norman and Madison Cunha.
LATE TOUCHDOWN LIFTS CARLETON INTO OUA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
The Carleton University Ravens relied on last-minute drama for the second week in a row to eke out a victory and qualify for the OUA football playoffs.
Quarterback Tristan Lefebvre connected with Frederik Hachey for a 41-yard touchdown with 12 seconds remaining to tie the University of Guelph Gryphons 27-27. And placement kicker Brandon Forcier kicked the convert and added a wind-aid single off the kickoff to secure a 29-27 victory.
In its previous game in Waterloo, Forcier missed a field goal, but earned a single with one second on the time clock to produce a 31-30 win over the Warriors and keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Ravens, who had the ball on their own 18-yard line with 36 seconds left in the regulation time, needed only three plays against the Gryphons to record the game-winning points.
Alex Gayle (four-yard run) and Hunter Brown (five-yard pass from Lefebvre) scored the other touchdowns for Carleton. Forcier finished the game with 10 points, including field goals from 27 and 47 yards.
Lefebvre connected on 17 of 31 pass attempts for 221 yards. He hit Hachey twice for 70 yards and Brown six times for 64 yards. Gayle had an impressive rushing game with 142 yards off 21 carries.
Carleton, 4-4, will meet the University of Windsor Lancers, 6-2, in the quarterfinals on the road on Saturday, while the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, 4-4, will return to Kingston to play the Queen’s University Gaels, 5-3, in their quarter match.
The Gee-Gees had difficulty scoring points in its final regular-season game, which was a rainy 12-8 loss to Queen’s at Richardson Stadium.
After scoring a team safety in the third quarter to narrow their deficit to three points at 5-2, the Gee-Gees recorded their final score with one second left in the game as quarterback Josh Janssen tossed a three-yard touchdown pass to Maxim Malenfant.
The game was even throughout as both teams had 19 first downs and Queen’s had 332 yards offence to Ottawa’s 323 yards.
Janssen gained 228 yards through the air by completing 20 of 35 passes, but he was intercepted twice in the Gaels’ end zone. His top receiver was Charles Asselin, who made nine receptions for 98 yards.
UNDEFEATED GEE-GEES WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM WINS EAST TITLE
The University of Ottawa women’s soccer team finished its OUA regular season undefeated with 11 wins and one tie to capture the East Conference pennant.
The Gee-Gees finished their regular season with a Northern Ontario swing and defeated the Nipissing University Lakers 2-1 and the Laurentian University Voyageurs 3-0.
OUA goal-scoring leader Cassandra Provost and Nibo Dlamini accounted for the Gee-Gees’ goals against the Lakers. Florence Laroche, Jenna Matsukubo and Sabrina Mangiaracina were the Ottawa goal scorers against the Voyageurs. Goalkeeper Cassidy Joslin made one save for the shutout against Laurentian.
Provost finished the regular season with 23 goals and 70 shots in 12 games, which ranked her No. 1 in both OUA categories. Matsukubo had 10 assists to top the assists column, while Dlamini was No. 2 at nine. Joslin was the goaltending leader with a 1.000 save percentage, zero goals against and a 0.00 goals against average for 495 minutes in eight games (six starts).
The fourth-place Carleton University Ravens, 6-3-3, lost to Trent University Excalibur 1-0, but rebounded to shut out Ontario Tech Ridgebacks 2-0.
Chloe Doiron and Lauren Illman counted the Ravens’ goals in the win over the Ridgebacks, while Chloe Lachance-Soulard had the five-save shutout. Lachance-Soulard only faced one shot against the Excalibur.
The Ravens men’s soccer team lost its first game in its final regular-season game, 1-0 to Ontario Tech, but still won the OUA East Conference with a 10-1-1 record.
In its other game, the Ravens defeated Trent 2-1 on goals by Luca Piccioli and Mohammed Bouzidi.
Piccioli ranked No. 3 in OUA points with 13 on nine goals and four assists. Teammate Raphael Garcia was first in assists at eight. Roberto Frankovic was the best goalkeeper, allowing only two goals in five games (four starts) and making six saves in 405 minutes.
CANADA EARNS SILVER MEDAL AT WHEELCHAIR RUGBY WORLD CUP
Ottawa Stingers’ Patrice Dagenais of Embrun helped Canada earn a silver medal at the international wheelchair rugby World Cup in Paris.
After going undefeated in the round-robin with four tight victories, Canada lost the gold-medal final 53-48 to Australia.
In the round-robin, Canada defeated Australia 49-48, Denmark 50-46, Great Britain 48-47 and France 51-50.
GRIDIRON ACADEMY GRADS MEET AT NCAA FOOTBALL GAME
A pair of Gridiron Academy graduates met Saturday during their NCAA football game.
University of Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Christian Veilleux and Wake Forest Demon Deacons offensive lineman Uber Ajongo were both coached by the academy’s Victor Tedondo of Ottawa.
Wake Forest won the game 21-17 on a touchdown with seven seconds remaining.
Veilleux moved the Panthers’ offence well, played his second full game as a starter and completed touchdown passes to Bub Means (22 yards) and Kenny Johnson (seven yards). He gained 302 yards through the air, completing 28 of 45 passes. Ajongo did not play in the game.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
· Kyana-Jade Poulin scored 20 points and Kali Pocrnic added 18 as the Carleton University Ravens women’s basketball team finished its pre-season at 8-0 with a 65-56 win over the Saint Mary’s University Huskies.
· The University of Ottawa men’s basketball team defeated the Concordia University Stingers 81-56 as Brock Newton and Khalifa Koulamallah, who came off the bench, scored 14 points each. The Gee-Gees were 5-0 in the pre-season.
· Despite 16 points and 10 rebounds from Emily Payne, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees dropped a 64-55 decision to the Saint Mary’s University Huskies in women’s exhibition basketball.
· Ottawa’s David Leger, who spent eight years as head coach of the University of Ottawa men’s hockey team (2003-11) and three years before that as an assistant, has joined the University of Guelph Gryphons as an associate coach.
· Ottawa Curling Club’s Rachel Homan won her first two matches at the Grand Slam of Curling’s HearingLife Tour Challenge in Niagara Falls, ON., but lost her final two games and missed the playoffs. In a tier 2 event, Ottawa’s Danielle Inglis also finished at 2-2, but made the playoffs and lost 10-4 to Korea’s Eunjung Kim in the semifinals.
· Despite losing to the Western University Mustangs 6-5 in their final game of the double-elimination Ontario University Softball women’s championship, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees emerged with the bronze medal. The Gee-Gees reached that point by defeating the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks in the quarterfinals and Western in the semifinals. But the Gee-Gees lost to the undefeated University of Toronto Varsity Blues before meeting Western a second time.
· Madison Grant of the Cornwall Claymores scored one try as Canada defeated Wales in its first of three matches during the new annual international Tier 1 women’s rugby 15s competition in Wellington, New Zealand. Alexandria Ellis of the Barrhaven Scottish and former University of Ottawa player Claire Gallagher of Caledon, ON., also were starters for Canada, who will play England on Friday and France on Nov. 4.
· The Ottawa Jr. Riders blanked the Chateauguay Jr. Raiders 11-0 in the Quebec Major Junior Football League. The Riders, 6-1, will wrap up their regular season Saturday at the South Shore Jr. Packers, 7-0.
· It was double heartbreak for the Ottawa South United Force during the Ontario Player Development League Charity Shield weekend in Toronto as both their under-14 boys’ and U17 girls’ soccer teams lost their post-season competition finals in penalty kicks. The Force U14 boys received goals from Diego Battisti and Isaia Rajakora before falling to Vaughan in the shootout, while the U17 girls lost to Hamilton following a scoreless regulation.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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