Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gaels' success

For those of you who don't know me in person, I'm a student at Queen's University, and a sports staff writer for the school paper, the Queen's Journal. This year, I've been doing a lot of coverage of the Queen's Golden Gaels men's and women's soccer teams. They have been playing terrific soccer of a very high calibre all year, and the matches are always tremendously entertaining. However, despite the terrific success of the teams (both are off to the OUA Final Four this coming weekend: the men's side are ranked #6 in the country, while the women's side are ranked #3 nationally and #1 in the OUA), Queen's students have been giving them very little support. Most of the Gaels' home games are played in front of only 30-50 fans, including supporters of the visiting teams, and a large proportion seem to be players' friends and families. In contrast, the Gaels' football team, which suffered through a .500 season and barely stumbled into the playoffs (which they haven't even made in recent years), managed to draw at least 350 people to the one game of theirs I attended this year over Thanksgiving weekend, where they were blown out by Ottawa. According to the subsequent story in the Journal, this attendance was very light by their standards. I have nothing against football, and follow the CFL very closely: however, it surprises me that so many students will go to see a team with an average record, but very few come out to see two of the best university soccer teams in Canada. Hopefully, this will change this coming weekend, when the Queen's women's squad hosts the OUA Final Four. They play at the St. Lawrence College field Saturday at noon, against the Western Mustangs in semi-final action. It would be awesome to see our students out in support against the hated rivals from "Omelette U"! It also may be the last chance for Queen's students to watch Eilish McConville, arguably the most gifted athlete at Queen's, compete for the Gaels. McConville, a fourth-year Applied Science student, had an incredibly impressive season in what is likely to be her final year with the Gaels: she led all CIS players with 22 goals, and was awarded CIS player of the week twice during the season. If the women's team win on Saturday, they will qualify for the national championships, held in Victoria from November 9-12. They'll also play in the OUA championship game against the other semifinal winner, which will be held at Richardson Stadium at 2 PM on Sunday. The men's team is off to Brock for their Final Four, and also will qualify for the CIS championships with a semi-final win. Best of luck to both teams: if they continue their excellent play, it might just raise the profile of soccer here at Queen's!

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