The Badgers were confident going into their first playoff game against the York Lions. This was the only time the teams met this season, having played the regular season in separate divisions. The Badgers ultimately came away with the 19-15 win.
It was the closest game the Badgers have played all season, though the Lions led 5-0 going into the second. It was back and forth for the first half, with York keeping Brock pinned in their own end and Brock fighting for position. The Badgers ended up being down a player with 10 minutes remaining in the first.
“The turning point was that we defended brilliantly,” said head coach Mark Smerdon.
The Badgers refused to allow York to use their advantage to score and headed into the second with victory in their sights.
The team has been consistently setting and achieving small goals over the course of the season; they may not have won every game but they defended the inside, they scored at least once and celebrated those goals accordingly.
In this game, meeting those goals was enough to earn them the win.
Niamh Haughey opened the second with a feat of sheer athleticism. Haughey evaded the Lions back line to blaze up the field and score the Badgers first try of the match, first year Daniella Michaud registered the convert to put the Badgers up 7-5.
Haughey, who also plays varsity hockey in the winter, has been a mainstay of the team. You’d be hard-pressed to find a stronger athlete. Haughey has an eye for the game that can only come from experience.
Her try opened up the field for the rest of the team to score. Winger Lorahmel Mateo and 8-man Miia Sorra scored back-to-back tries, which Michaud converted on to put Brock definitively in the lead.
“We didn’t change any of our goals, and because we achieved them yet again we beat a very big and athletic York Lions team,” said Smerdon.
With the Lions defeated, Brock has earned a spot in the semifinal, they’ll travel to Kingston to play Queen’s on October 12.
The Queen’s Golden Gaels have the best women’s rugby program in the country. The Badgers faced the Gaels less than a month ago in the regular season where they put up a strong fight but ultimately lost 82-7. Queen’s regularly shuts out opponents, putting up over 100 points in a single game. Brock might not stand a chance at winning this year — but they might just surprise the number one team with a harder fight than expected.
Either way, the Badgers should be proud of their achievements. Smerdon came into the season with a simple goal, stay in the Shiels division and worry about medals next season. Having achieved that goal, anything that happens now is a bonus.