A breakout season by Sarnia's Daria Keane has landed her a first team all-star berth in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) women's rugby.
“It's an honour,” said Keane. “None of that would be possible without my teammates and my coaching staff always pushing each other and pushing me to be better,” she added.
The Northern Collegiate grad led Ontario University Athletics (OUA) with 15 tries in five regular season games this season for the University of Guelph Gryphons, and was second in conference scoring with 75 points.
The fifth-year sociology student along with two teammates and their head coach were all recognized with awards at the CIS national women's rugby banquet last week in Kingston.
“It was very bittersweet being there and seeing the other teams at the banquet and knowing they get to compete but you don't when technically you earned your spot,” said Keane, who was also named OUA Shiels Division Most Valuable Player this season, and named to the OUA all-star team at the number 8 position.
The Gryphons, who outscored their opposition 439-10 during the regular season, were ranked fifth to start the season in September, but moved their way to the top ranking in the country by the middle of October.
In the OUA playoffs, they beat both Brock and Queen's with relative ease before bowing to third-ranked McMaster, 21-13, in the provincial final on Halloween.
Under new CIS rules, Guelph, as the second place team in Ontario, would normally have qualified for the national tournament. But because Queen's was hosting the event the Gryphons were bumped in favour of the host school.
Guelph defeated Queen's twice this season by an aggregate score of 86-10.
“It's really unfortunate (we couldn't compete at the nationals) since we were one of the top contenders in the country,” said Keane.
The product of the Sarnia Saints rugby program hopes to graduate with her undergraduate degree next month and will stay in Guelph to train and play a second season next summer with the Guelph Redcoats of the Ontario Women's Rugby League.
She also hopes to be chosen to participate in CIS sevens women's rugby tournament next March.