Courtesy of University of Guelph Athletics
GUELPH, Ont. (CIS) – Tournament MVP Emma Taylor of Scotsburn, N.S., scored two tries as the St. Francis Xavier X-Women captured their fourth Monilex Trophy thanks to a spectacular 43-34 win over the McMaster Marauders in the highest-scoring CIS women’s rugby final in history at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium, Sunday afternoon.
The 17-time AUS conference champions, now 4-3 all-time in CIS gold-medal games including previous triumphs in 2006, 2010 and 2012, return home to Antigonish, N.S., with a perfect 3-0 record at this year’s national tournament, having defeated Alberta 41-17 on Friday and Western 27-24 on Saturday in pool play.
For their part, the OUA champion Marauders settle for CIS silver for the second time in program history. They had lost to Guelph 15-10 on home turf in Hamilton in the final of the inaugural CIS championship, back in 1998.
The 77 combined points easily shattered the previous record of 44 in the CIS title match, a mark set in 2003 when Alberta dominated Western 38-6, and tied in 2008 when Lethbridge beat StFX 29-15. Alberta’s 38 points in 2003 was the previous record for one team in the national final.
Taylor, a fifth-year second row playing in her final university game, was the obvious choice for MVP after she finished the competition with a tournament-high seven tries. In Saturday’s Pool A finale against Western, the AUS player of the year had saved the day for StFX with a game-winning try in the dying seconds of the contest.
In a back-and-forth gold-medal game, the X-Women took a slim 24-19 lead to the locker room at halftime thanks to three tries – all converted - and a penalty kick, compared to three tries – two of them converted – for McMaster.
StFX never gave up the lead in the second half, adding another three tries – two of them converted – while the Marauders added two tries – one converted – and a penalty kick.
Winning head coach Mike Cavanagh was thrilled with his team’s execution of the game plan.
“We tried to put pressure on the 9, 10 and 12 to keep them from getting the ball to the back three because we knew they have some game-breakers on the outside.”
Shaun Allen, in his rookie season as McMaster bench boss, said that he will look back on the campaign fondly.
“We have an OUA banner, a silver medal from the CIS championship and we graduate just one player.”
The Marauders came into the match knowing they would have to rely on the speed of their back line if they were to upset a powerful StFX team that is led by some strong forward play.
After a Sabrina McDaid penalty kick in the fifth minute gave StFX an early 3-0 lead, McMaster scored the first try of the afternoon thanks in large part to its player of the game, Saffara Whiteley-Hoffelner (Richmond Hill, Ont).
In the 13th minute, Whiteley-Hoffelner got a StFX defender to bite on a brilliant ball fake before sprinting 40-metres down to the 2-metre line, where she off-loaded to Katie Svoboda (Belleville, Ont.) for the score.
With McMaster up 12-10 after the teams exchanged tries, Whiteley-Hoffelner was at it again in the 25th minute with another highlight-reel run, which she would this time finish off herself for a 19-10 Marauders advantage.
In vintage StFX fashion, the X-Women were able to establish great continuity as they methodically worked their way down the pitch. Two tries towards the end of the first half, one by freshman Joanna Alphonso (Ajax, Ont.) and the other by Taylor gave AUS champs a 24-19 edge after an entertaining first 40 minutes.
In the second half, the crowd of nearly 1,000 erupted when
bruising forward Alphonso found herself in open space on the wing.
The AUS rookie of the year rumbled 30 yards down the pitch before
off-loading to Caitlain Blanchard (Halifax), who took it the rest
of the way for the try to put the X-Women up 31-19.
In the 55th minute, McMaster answered with a gorgeous show-and-go by Emily Ricketts (Oakville, Ont.) that cut the deficit to five.
Over the final 25 minutes of the match, StFX found a way to limit McMaster’s possession outside of the 15’s. With the game now turning into a forward-dominated contest, the X-Women were growing more and more comfortable while the long McMaster runs were nowhere to be found.
In the 60th minute, Alphonso once again barrelled her way toward the try line. After she was brought down just short, Catherine MacKeigan (Toronto) finished off the drive with the try to put StFX up 38-26.
Taylor ended any hopes of a McMaster comeback in the 74th minute with her seventh try of the weekend that made it 43-29.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, the Marauders tacked on a late try in the 80th and final minute from Svoboda.
STFX 24-19: 43
MAC 19-15: 34
StFX – Sabrina McDaid penalty kick 5th minute (STFX 3 – MAC 0)
MAC – Katie Svoboda try 13th (Stephanie Black conversion) - (STFX 3 – MAC 5)
StFX – Tasha Mackenzie try 20th (Sabrina McDaid conversion) - (STFX 10 – MAC 7)
MAC – Katie Svoboda try 22nd (conversion no good) - (STFX 10 – MAC 12)
MAC – Saffara Whiteley-Hoffelner try 25th (Stephanie Black conversion) - (STFX 10 – MAC 19)
StFX – Joanna Alphonso try 35th (Sabrina McDaid conversion) – (STFX 17 – MAC 19)
StFX – Emma Taylor try 39th (Sabrina McDaid conversion) - (STFX 24 – MAC 19)
StFX – Caitlain Blanchard try 44th (Sabrina McDaid conversion) - (STFX 31 – MAC 19)
MAC – Emily Ricketts try 55th (Stephanie Black conversion) – (STFX 31 – MAC 26)
StFX – Catharine MacKeigan try 60th (Sabrina McDaid conversion) – (STFX 38 – MAC 26)
MAC – Stephanie Black penalty kick 70th – (STFX 38 – MAC 29)
StFX – Emma Taylor try 74th (conversion no good) – (STFX 43 – MAC 29)
MAC – Katie Svoboda try 80th (conversion no good) – (STFX 43 – MAC 34)
Players of the game
StFX – Sabrina McDaid (Scarborough, Ont.)
MAC – Saffara Whiteley-Hoffelner (Richmond Hill, Ont.)
Try: 5 points
Penalty goal: 3 points
Convert: 2 points
MVP: Emma Taylor (Scotsburn, N.S.), StFX
R.W. Pugh Fair Play award: Western Mustangs
Emma Taylor – StFX
CathArine MacKeigan – StFX
Brooke Newsome – StFX
Colleen Irowa – McMaster
Sara Svoboda – McMaster
Stephanie Black – McMaster
Saffara Whiteley-Hoffelner – McMaster
Lori Josephson – Western
Nikki Case – Western
Breanne Nicholas – Western
Allison MacCormack – Ottawa
Devon Stober – Guelph
Shannon Spurrell – Guelph
Stacie Becker – Alberta
Julia Goss – Alberta
POOL STANDINGS, SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Pool A preliminary round (FINAL)
1. StFX 2 2 0 0 68 41 10
2. Western 2 1 1 0 46 46 6
3. Alberta 2 0 2 0 36 63 1
Pool B preliminary round (FINAL)
1. McMaster 2 2 0 0 32 25 8
2. Ottawa 2 1 1 0 33 32 5
3. Guelph 2 0 2 0 28 36 2
NOTE 1: A win is worth 4 points and a tie 2 points.
NOTE 2: 1 bonus point is awarded for scoring 4 tries or more in a game.
NOTE 3: 1 bonus point is awarded for a loss by 7 points or less.
Thursday, Oct. 30
10:30 Pool A: Western 22, Alberta 19
13:30 Pool B: McMaster 15, Guelph 13
Friday, Oct. 31
10:30 Pool A: StFX 41, Alberta 17
13:30 Pool B: Ottawa 21, Guelph 15
Saturday, Nov. 1
10:30 Pool A: StFX 27, Western 24
13:30 Pool B: McMaster 17, Ottawa 12
Sunday, Nov. 2
10:00 Fifth place: Guelph 25, Alberta 8
12:00 Bronze medal: Western 17, Ottawa 5
14:00 Championship final: StFX 43, McMaster 34
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