The StFX women jumped out to an early lead over the No. 1 Guelph Gryphons in the first half and completed the upset in the second, moving on to the championship finals with a 38-24 victory at Centennial Stadium Friday night.
The X-Women stunned the Gryphons by jumping out to a 14-0 lead within the first six minutes of the game on tries from June Beals and Danielle Cormier. Sabrina McDaid hit both of her converts to give StFX some early insurance in a must-win game. “We are really happy with the way we played,” said StFX head coach Mike Cavanagh. “Our forwards came to play today. They scrummaged and rucked well. We got the ball and tried our best to keep it because you can’t let Guelph have the ball.”
Guelph has been more dangerous than any team when given their chances this season. They outscored their opponents 503-12 in the OUA regular season before adding 193 points in three playoff games and another 33 against the Vikes Thursday. Friday marked the second straight slow start for the Gryphons after they let the Vikes jump out to an 8-0 lead in their quarterfinal on Thursday.“It took us a long time to get on our game plan and it’s too bad that we played into their strengths for 30 minutes,” said Guelph head coach Colette McAuley. “We just weren’t able to adapt quick enough. We wanted to run a wide game and we have the players to do that.”
Guelph got on the board in the 27th minute, as Maddy Brattan got the last touch and Alexandra King made her fifth convert of the tournament. StFX’s Joanna Alphonso and Guelph’s Alexandra Everett traded tried before the half to bring the score to 19-12 for the X-Women. Alphonso was back at it in the second half, scoring her third try of the championship in the 43rd minute. Six minutes later, however, Guelph’s Emily Samek took control, scoring two tries in two minutes to stun the X-Women and tie the game at 24-24.
It could have been a devastating turn of events for StFX, but instead they turned on the jets. Carolyn Williams scored in the 55th minute, the X-Women were awarded a penalty try in extra time and McDaid made both converts to put the game out of reach. “We talked about how to respond all season,” said Cavanagh. “When you sort of dominate your conference you don’t have to respond all year and we knew that here teams were going to score against us and put us under pressure. I’m so proud of the way our team did respond.”
The X-Women will be back at it Sunday against Ottawa at 3:00 p.m. PDT while the Gryphons move on to the bronze medal game to play Calgary.