October 28, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 32  

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Women's rugby team wins OUA Championship

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Writer

Dave Picard/Gazette
“STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU.” Western’s women’s rugby players prepare for a scrum during their OUA championship game Saturday. Western defeated Waterloo 19-5.

The Western Mustangs women's rugby team proved themselves the best in the province, defeating the Waterloo Warriors by a score of 19-5 to win the 2003 Ontario University Athletics crown on Saturday.

Western came into the final confident with the knowledge they were heavily favored against Waterloo after blowing them out 29-0 in regular season play.

Any lingering memories the Mustangs had of that game, however, were quickly dispelled as the Warriors got off to a quick start and carried the play from the opening kick-off. The flat Mustangs were forced deep into their own territory on several occasions throughout the half and thanks to some missed opportunities by the Warriors, were fortunate to find themselves trailing only 5-0 at half-time.

"We came out tight and got a bit ahead of ourselves," said Western head coach Natascha Wesch. "They were playing with nothing to lose and they came out really strong." Then it happened: a complete transformation. As three crazed fans displayed the letters U, W and O on their bare chests, the Mustangs took to the field looking to show their true colours in the second half.

Minutes in, Melissa Bruneau converted a try by Rachel Park to give Western a 7-5 lead -the Mustangs domination didn- stop there. The Warriors were forced to play in their own territory for nearly the entire half as Western relentlessly pushed the ball up the field time and time again. After 20 minutes, a try from Bruneau had increased Western's lead to 12-5, a total that proved insurmountable for the visitors from Waterloo.

In the dying moments, OUA All-Star and Sheils Division MVP, Kristen Ferguson, added a try and upon Bruneau's convert the final whistle was blown. With a final score of 19-5, the Mustangs were able to celebrate

Western's first ever OUA title in women's rugby.

"It was an amazing second half game for us," Ferguson said. "We organized the ball better and adjusted to changes [Waterloo] had made to play against us. Once we were able to adjust, we took the game." With the victory, the Mustangs earned themselves the right to represent Ontario at this weekend's Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in Alberta where they will look to improve on last season's silver medal performance at the nationals.

"We have something to prove [in Alberta]," Ferguson said. "Last year people thought that our silver medal was a fluke. We want to make a statement that we will be one of the best teams for a long time." "We're really proud to represent Western," Bruneau added. "We're going to do it this year." Sporting an undefeated record this season, the Mustangs will fly to Alberta on Wednesday a confident group, but they still have a long road ahead if they want to be Canadian champions.

"The teams from out West are strong," said two-time OUA champion and Waterloo head coach Eric Ciezar. "[Western] will have to contend with differing weather conditions as well as strong fan support against them." "But [the Mustangs] will represent Ontario well -they're a very strong team," Ciezar added.




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