October 21 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 28   

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Mustangs advance to OUA final

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Writer

Dave Picard/Gazette
YOU CAN’T STOP ME AND NEITHER CAN YOUR ‘FRO. Mustangs rugby player Rachel Park eludes a would-be tackler during Sunday’s OUA semi-final. The Mustangs went on to win 15-3 over Guelph.

Sunday was a day of firsts in Ontario University Athletics women's rugby action as the Western Mustangs handed the Guelph Gryphons their first-ever loss on Western soil with a 15-3 victory.

Thanks to a strong effort from the women in purple, the elimination of Guelph in this year's semi-final marks the first time in the league's ten-year history the Gryphons will not be represented in the OUA final.

Also significant is the fact that for the first time the Mustangs appear to be the clear favorite to represent Ontario at the upcoming Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in Alberta.

It was a defensive match that began slowly, with no scoring to report until 16 minutes in when the Gryphons took a 3-0 lead on a Western penalty.

If the first score of the game gave the Gryphons any momentum, it did not seem to faze the Mustangs, who showed poise as they patiently waited for their opportunity to strike.

That opportunity presented itself minutes later when Emma Van Steen pushed her way over the try line, giving Western a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.

A late first-half try from Kristen Ferguson as well as a second half goal from Melissa Bruneau, who also managed to convert the Ferguson try for two points, rounded out the scoring in the 15-3 victory.

"We weren't able to capitalize on our opportunities," remarked Gryphons head coach Jim Atkinson, giving full credit to Western's program.

"[Western] has a strong team," Atkinson said. "They've proven they will be worthy hosts of this year's final."

In addition to gaining home field advantage in this Saturday's OUA final, the Mustangs were able to taste sweet revenge as they defeated the same Gryphons squad that handed them a bitter loss in the OUA final just one year ago.

"That was pay back for last year," exclaimed Western head coach Natascha Wesch following the hard-fought victory.

"We wanted to finish them off from last year," added Western captain and OUA All-Star Ferguson with a smile. "We wanted vengeance."

For the second consecutive year, the Mustangs have earned themselves a spot in the OUA final. This year's opponent will be the Waterloo Warriors, a team Western should feel confident in facing after defeating them 29-0 in a regular season romp just one month ago.

Despite their past success against the Warriors, don't expect the Mustangs to take the team from Waterloo lightly. After all, the Warriors did upset a strong and undefeated squad from Queen's to earn their spot in the final.

"Waterloo's a good team and we'll have to be ready," Wesch said. "But our defensive play is outstanding. We're deeper than any other team and these are the things that will bring us through."

"We have to gear up, it won't be easy," Ferguson added.





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