On Sunday, July 31, the Ottawa women were in Montreal for a pair of AFLQ 9-a-side games. Conditions were tough, with the Warriors and the Shamrocks playing in some of the hottest weather of the season. Both teams were also struggling with numbers, reducing their rosters to seven players each.
The Carleton Warriors opened with their second contest against the Plateau Eagles. Both teams were fielding seven players, which for the Eagles included returning star Elaine Gilmour. The Warriors were missing some key players, including veteran fullback Cat Geci and midfield workhorse Vivian Nguyen. No one expected a repeat of the last time these teams met—a 123-0 rout for the Warriors—but the reconfigured teams led to a match-up that was much more even than anticipated.
The Warriors began with a trio of first-quarter goals, but were held to account by the Eagles’ Gilmour, who answered with a goal of her own, reminding the Warriors why she cannot be left unattended. The slim backline of Courtney Diotte and Beth Sheffield capably took on the challenge, preventing any more Eagles’ scoring before the third quarter.
Although the Warriors were visibly hindered by the heat, their short bench, and their habit of kicking behinds, they were redeemed by their keen ability to hit marks. Moving the ball to open space saved the day for the Warriors, who slipped in enough goals to maintain the lead—both in the game in the AFLQ women’s league. Warriors 5.7.37 Eagles 2.2.14
In the second game, the Shamrocks were even more afflicted by the absence of several players, borrowing Belinda Wozniak from the Warriors to bring their roster up to seven. However, an early neck injury put Mishelle Stott on the sidelines, leaving the Shamrocks one player down for most of the game.
The disparity hurt the Shamrocks, who were unable to keep pace with the Giants for the first half. Although Rebecca Gomez was so dominant in the ruck that the Giants stopped contesting her, Wozniak’s lone goal in the first quarter accounted for the Shamrocks’ only points, while the Giants’ offence produced seven goals and four behinds before halftime.
The Shamrocks were able to find the goalposts twice in the third quarter, and then really took off after the Giants’ Sarah James left with an ankle injury, evening the numbers on the field. Rebecca Rousseau in the midfield consistently nabbed the ruck taps, moving the ball up to Wozniak and Holly Vachon, who together were responsible for all of the Shamrocks’ goals. Unfortunately, this late burst of scoring was not enough to beat the Giants, leading to the Shamrocks’ second loss of the season and bringing the two teams into a tie for second place. Giants 10.9.69 Shamrocks 5.5.35
The women took a well-deserved break from games this past weekend, however the men had a home game against the third place Etobicoke Kangaroos. With only one win separating the teams, the match had important implications for first place. In the biggest match of the season, the Swans stepped up and made a statement with a 20.11.131 to 3.3.21 victory.
The Swans got off to a fast start, with forwards Kyle Graham, Matt Powell and Ian Baldwin all kicking goals in the first half. Trevor Jamieson, a third year veteran who normally plays in the backline, kicked goals 1 and 2 of his career after being moved up to forward.
Morgan Whyte controlled the game from the ruck and ensured the Swans started with possession after every ball up, and the Swans midfield outworked and out-tackled the Kangaroos to get the ball to the forwards.
While the defense wasn’t tested too much, Luke Coady made an inspirational, goal saving tackle in the first quarter, and midfielder Jovan Love chased a Kangaroo player for 30 yards to prevent a goal later in the game. Second efforts like this are part of the Swans team culture, and doing them even when winning will give the Swans an advantage come playoff time.
The win keeps the Swans in first place with by far the best goals for/goals against ratio in the league. Staying in first is critical, as it means the Swans would get a bye for the first round of the playoffs and play the second round at home in Manotick.
Next week, both the Swans teams travel to Toronto. The Men will face the Broadview Hawks at the University of Toronto field. This will be their first road game since they fell in Round 1 to the Dingos. The Lady Swans will again team up with Montreal for the second AFL Ontario vs AFL Quebec All-Stars game. The women, will be looking for revenge after Ontario took the first match.