The Badgers were happy with a 53-5 loss to the defending OUA champions, the Guelph Gryphons, to end their regular season.
The single try came courtesy of winger Tegan Teeple. Eight different Gryphons scored for Guelph, but in the end the Badgers were satisfied with their performance. They fought until the very last second, continuing to advance the ball and very nearly scoring a second try in the dying seconds of the match.
Head coach Mark Smerdon has emphasized the importance of attaining small goals particularly when facing formidable opponents.
“We scored again, we never quit, so it was a good team effort right at the end with a lot of cheering on the sidelines so the spirit and the mood is really good amongst the squad which is what we need moving forward,” said Smerdon.
Although the Badgers allowed the Gryphons to score, Smerdon was happy with their continuously improving defensive structure.
“We were going to play a strong pressure defence and only allow them to score along the outside which is where they got the majority of their points so big goal attained there,” he said.
Many teams came into games against the Badgers with the false impression that the Badgers were weaker — physically and structurally — but their no-quit attitude and relentless positivity in the face of adversity has allowed them to hang with the best teams in the country.
“We’re aggressive at the breakdown which I think is surprising teams a lot. They’re kind of running away from the breakdown later in the game because they don’t want to be a part of it,” said Smerdon.
The Badgers were not willing to surrender. They made Guelph fight for their points as they did in their previous matches.
With the regular season finished, the Badgers now have their sights set on the playoffs.
“If it goes according to plan, next week we’ve got York at home. If we play the way we’ve been playing we should go forward to the semifinals in which case we’ll face Queen’s at Queen’s so a tough ask for anybody,” said Smerdon.
The York Lions finished their regular season with a perfect 4-0 record (albeit playing against weaker teams in the Russell division).
The Badgers and the Lions have been here before. Brock beat York 20-13 in last year’s quarterfinal matchup to move into the semifinals. It was a close game but the Badgers are a different team this year.
They’ve faced new challenges, adjusted to a new coach and brought new players into the mix.
The Badgers have been all about incremental success. This season’s goal was to avoid relegation and stay focused on small in-game goals that have allowed them to get better.
“Now we’ve got to look at recruitment and finding the right players to come into this mix and stay positive and going further and further,” said Smerdon.
The OUA is one of the toughest leagues in Canada. Guelph and Queen’s are consistently top ten nationally ranked teams, with Queen’s often claiming the number one ranking. The challenge that the division provides to the Badgers has proven to be a learning experience for the team and will only allow them to get better.
“In the next few years we’re going to be looking to bronze, looking to medal, let’s say. We’ve still got two of the top teams in the country in our tier one division, so it’s a tough league for us but the girls are definitely up for the challenge. It’s great to coach a team like that,” said Smerdon.
The game against York is loosely scheduled for Saturday, October 5 at Alumni Field. If the Badgers win they’ll avoid relegation and stay in the Shiels division next season.