Emotions are everywhere as the Gee-Gees lose to the Gaels

They played a week after the sudden death of defensive lineman Francis Perron because they thought that was what he would have wanted them to do.

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A painful and grueling week ended with a loss for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees on Saturday, but coach Marcel Bellefeuille said it was a big step in the grieving process.


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Defensive lineman Francis Perron, who died after the season opener a week earlier, was on the minds of players before, during and after the Gee-Gees’ 30-7 loss to the Queen’s Gaels in Kingston.

The Gee-Gees canceled normal soccer meetings and practices at the beginning of the week. They met regularly with mental health experts at the university to help them cope with the loss.

As for the remaining soccer matches, all options on how to proceed, including the ability to cancel matches, were on the table.

On Wednesday, the players decided to go ahead with Saturday’s game against Queen’s, believing that was what Perron would have wanted them to do.

When the game came around, it was a heartfelt experience for the Gee-Gees and the Gaels.


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“It was difficult, with everything going on, thinking about Francis,” Bellefeuille said in a telephone interview while the Gee-Gees were on their way home. “But going back to the field … It was a short week (of practice), but a big step in healing.”

Gee-Gees Amlicar Polk and Braeden Cruji wear Francis Perron's jersey off the field at Richardson Stadium in Kingston on Saturday.
Gee-Gees Amlicar Polk and Braeden Cruji wear Francis Perron’s jersey off the field at Richardson Stadium in Kingston on Saturday. Photo by Ian MacAlpine /Postmedia

There was a pregame ceremony to honor Perron, with members of the Gee-Gees and Gaels lining up for a moment of silence.

His jersey framed with the number 99 was placed in the center of the field and a sticker with the number 99 on the helmets.

All University of Ontario Athletics football teams observed a moment of silence on Saturday and will wear the number sticker for the remainder of the season.

“This one hits close to home for everyone,” Gaels coach Steve Snyder said before the game.

“It affects our soccer team because we are part of the Canadian college soccer community and we respect all of our teams and opponents. We are going to pay tribute to the best of our ability and respect the game. “


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Before kick-off, Gee-Gees players Amlicar Polk and Braeden Cruji wore Perron’s jersey onto the field. That move resulted in a delay in the game penalty against the Gee-Gees, but it was a convincing gesture.

“A big part of the game was the tribute,” Bellefeuille said. “We are going to continue to recover, to honor Francis just by playing.”

The game did not start well for the Gee-Gees, as they trailed 23-0 at halftime.

“It’s not the result we wanted, but we got to play a game and that finally had to happen,” Bellefeuille said. “From that perspective, we accomplished something.”

Gees-Gees catcher Daniel Oladejo rubs the 99 decal affixed to his helmet to honor Francis Perron during Saturday's pregame ceremony in Kingston.
Gees-Gees catcher Daniel Oladejo rubs the 99 decal affixed to his helmet to honor Francis Perron during Saturday’s pregame ceremony in Kingston. Photo by Ian MacAlpine /Postmedia

While the coaches left the door open for any player to opt out of Saturday’s game, all healthy Gee-Gees played.

“A couple of guys didn’t play because, with the short week (of practice), we couldn’t evaluate everyone,” Bellefeuille said. “We were missing some starters. It was a challenging week, but we stuck together as a team. The boys played 60 minutes. The game was quite unbalanced in the first half ”.

Bellefeuille took some positives from the fact that the Gee-Gees rallied late, recording a last-minute touchdown to bring the second-half score to 7-7.

Next up for the Gee-Gees (0-2) is next Saturday’s Panda Game against the Carleton Ravens at TD Place Stadium.

In normal seasons, it is a contest brimming with excitement and energy, a student engagement exercise that is often the flagship event on the Canadian college football calendar.

However, that game will also focus on Perron, whose family is expected to be present.


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The Ravens will enter the game on a high note. They defeated York 30-17 on Saturday, equaling their 1-1 record following their season-opening loss at home to Queen’s. It was another great afternoon for the quarterback-wide receiver combination of Tanner DeJong and Keaton Bruggeling.

Once again, however, Perron will be on everyone’s mind in the run-up to the Panda Game.

“Panda is a great week. It’s never a normal week, but it’s also a great week for Francis and his family, ”said Bellefeuille.

“Certainly next week will be a regular practice week, or at least as normal a soccer week as we can get. We will have meetings (Sunday) and return to practice (Monday). “

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