September 26, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 17  

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Western puts on defensive clinic

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

Two confident teams met in a women's rugby match on Wednesday. One team left with even more confidence, while the other left with their heads hanging in shame.

The Western Mustangs embarrassed the Waterloo Warriors 29-0 with a home win to improve their record to 3-0. The Warriors, who were coming off a 39-0 win over Brock, fell to 1-1.

Both teams were confident coming into the game, but the Mustangs stole all the momentum early on with a try in the first minute of the game to take a 7-0 lead. From there they never looked back.

Waterloo generated little offense and spent most of the game in their own end desperately trying to hang on.

"They are a great team, we just did things better today," said Western head coach Natascha Wesch. "Our defense was great; they created turnovers and gave our offense a chance to work their magic. Our offense and defense were excellent."

After another try and failed convert, Western held a 12-0 lead at half-time. In the second half, Cassie Emmett led the charge scoring two of the team's three tries in the half to round out the scoring.

Waterloo head coach Eric Ciezar was visibly upset and emotional over his team's disappointing performance and knew what needed to be done to compete with Western.

"They came out strong and we were caught standing still. Then we started to let up and our defense fell apart. We need to play more aggressively and be quicker to the ball," Ciezar said.

In the dying minutes of the game the Warriors had a flurry of offensive pressure, but were continually stopped by the Mustangs' defense. While not wanting to embarrass Waterloo, the Western players felt the stop was important for their confidence.

"That was really big for us. We could hear our coach yelling 'Western Pride' from the sidelines and we didn't want to let them score," said Jen Scheid.

"Everyone really came together today, from start to finish," added Kat Cureton.

Aside from the late action in their own end, Western spent almost the entire game in Waterloo's end and many times were just feet from Waterloo's end zone. Despite all the offensive pressure, Wesch was not at all concerned about the plays that didn't end up in tries. "The tries that we got we had to work hard for. They are an excellent team and they have excellent players. It's not easy to score on them," she said.

The Mustangs face the Brock Badgers on Sunday in their final regular season game before the playoffs begin in October. Sitting atop the Ontario University Athletics standings and feeling confident, the coach and players said the team can start working on little things to improve their game.

"Our defense is fixed," Scheid said. "We worked on our 'D' for an hour yesterday in practice and we have it put together now.

"We can work on little things now. Getting in team's faces and using the attack are tiny things we do well. We can be more picky," Wesch added.

If the team can put all those elements together, they should be considered a contender in the OUA and nationally. The team finished second in the OUA last year after losing the gold medal game to Guelph.

In the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships, they got their revenge on Guelph, beating them in the semi-finals. However, they went on to lose the CIS gold medal game to Alberta.

With 19 returning players from last year's double-silver squad, they will surely be looking to improve on their success from last year. Judging by their start to this year's season, reaching that goal is definitely within their grasps.




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