Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the weekend.
Dinos win on last-second 59-yard field goal
Three football conference championships took place this weekend, and the most thrilling ending came in Canada West’s Hardy Cup. The Calgary Dinos trailed the UBC Thunderbirds 43-41 at home with just two seconds left, and decided to attempt a field goal from 59 yards out. That’s a ridiculously long kick at any level; for comparison, only 18 field goals have ever been made from 60 yards or longer in the history of the NFL, only four field goals have been made from 59 yards or longer in the history of the CFL, and the previous longest field goal in U SPORTS history was Saint Mary’s Huskies kicker Jerry Foster hitting from 57 against the Mount Allison Mounties on Sept. 18, 1986. But second-year Dinos kicker Niko DiFonte nailed this one, giving Calgary a last-second 44-43 win and making history in the process:
The remarkable thing is that the record field goal was only part of a crazy fourth quarter, which saw four lead changes. Calgary started the quarter with a 28-21 lead, and added to that with a DiFonte field goal, but UBC struck back with a 75-yard touchdown drive, then notched an interception and scored another touchdown to take a 35-31 lead. The Dinos then came up with their own interception and turned it into a touchdown from receiver Hunter Karl, giving them a 38-35 edge:
Following that, DiFonte hit another field goal to put Calgary up 41-35 with just under two minutes left, but things weren’t over yet. UBC quarterback Michael O’Connor managed to orchestrate a 92-yard drive and capped it with a six-yard touchdown pass to Alex Morrison, giving the Thunderbirds a 42-41 lead. A kickoff rouge made it 43-41 and set Calgary up at their own 35 with just 14 seconds left. However, quarterback Adam Sinagra quickly found Tyler Ledwos for 18 yards and Robert Stewart for five more to pave the way for DiFonte’s game-winning and history-making field goal.
Elsewhere in U SPORTS football, the 110th Yates Cup in Ontario saw the Western Mustangs get some revenge on the Laurier Golden Hawks following Laurier’s fourth-quarter comeback from a 24-point deficit in that game last year. The Mustangs were looking to avenge two straight Yates Cup losses (to Guelph and Laurier respectively), and they certainly did, crushing the Golden Hawks 75-32. It was a narrow 17-16 lead for Western after the first quarter, but the Mustangs pulled away in the second, outscoring Laurier 26-0 in that frame. Running back Cedric Joseph led the way with 250 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.
In Quebec, the Laval Rouge et Or claimed their 14th Dunsmore Cup with a 25-22 win over the Montreal Carabins, fighting off a late Montreal comeback in the process. Laval led 22-11 at the half, but the Carabins made it 22-14 in the third, and following a Rouge et Or field goal, Montreal got within three with a touchdown and a two-point conversion inside the final minute, then recovered an onside kick. But penalties hurt the Carabins’ final drive, and their desperation final pass fell incomplete.
Acadia and Saint Mary’s will play in the Loney Bowl Tuesday, with the winner hosting Western in the Uteck Bowl Saturday. Laval will travel to face Calgary in the Mitchell Bowl Saturday night. The winners of each semifinal will advance to Nov. 25’s Vanier Cup.
Carabins claim first national title with win over Capers
It was a Quebec team that wound up taking home the Gladys Bean Memorial Trophy at this year’s national women’s soccer championships, but not the one many might have expected. The Laval Rouge et Or won last year’s national title and came out on top in 2014 as well, posted a 12-0-2 mark during this regular season (stretching their regular-season unbeaten streak to 54 games in the process), were ranked first in the weekly Top 10 poll every single week this season, and entered nationals as the top seed. However, they lost 1-0 to the eighth-seeded Western Mustangs in the quarterfinals and then lost to the Victoria Vikes on penalty kicks in the consolation semifinal. And it was another Quebec team, the Montreal Carabins, that wound up with the national title.
The Carabins entered nationals as the sixth seed, but also came in with an unbeaten (10-0-4) regular-season record and a narrow 1-0 overtime conference final loss to Laval. And the tournament went much better for them than it did for the Rouge et Or; they edged the third-seeded Guelph Gryphons 1-0 in overtime in the quarterfinals, then thumped the second-seeded Trinity Western Spartans 5-0 in the semifinals before picking up another 1-0 win over the fourth-seeded Cape Breton Capers in the finals. Striker Catherine Proulx scored that goal and was named match MVP, while keeper Claudia Dube-Trempe recorded her third straight clean sheet of the tournament and defender Marie-Ève Bernard O’Breham was named tournament MVP.
Varsity Blues women knock off Gryphons, Gryphons men return to top
This weekend’s U SPORTS cross country championships in Victoria, B.C. saw a pair of interesting results involving the Guelph Gryphons. On the women’s side, the Gryphons didn’t win for once, with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues becoming the first non-Guelph team to claim a national title in 13 years. The Blues were followed by the Queen’s Gaels, the Laval Rouge et Or, the Victoria Vikes and then the Gryphons. On the individual front, Toronto’s Sasha Gollish placed first with a time of 27:37, with Queen’s Claire Sumner (last year’s individual champion) finishing second in 27:46 and her teammate Branna MacDougall finishing third in 27:51.
On the men’s side, the Gryphons claimed their 14th title in 19 years and their 15th overall, but their first since their ninth-straight title in 2014. They were followed by the Calgary Dinos, the Rouge et Or (last year’s champions), the McMaster Marauders and the Gaels.
Individually, Laval’s Yves Sikubwabo won the men’s race for the second-straight year, posting a time of 31:15. He was followed by Guelph’s Connor Black (31:19) and Western’s Ben Carson (31:33).
Capers finish unbeaten season with gold medal win on penalty kicks
The Cape Breton Capers capped off an unbeaten season in style at the U SPORTS Respect Group Men’s Soccer Championship, but needed penalty kicks to settle the final. Cape Breton, the AUS champions, beat the UQAM Citadins 3-0 in the quarterfinals and then topped the host Thompson Rivers WolfPack 4-2 in the semifinals to set up the gold-medal match with the Montreal Carabins. That one again looked to be going well for the Capers, as Stuart Heath gave them a 1-0 lead with a penalty in the 27th minute, but the Carabins didn’t go away. Mouad Ouzane equalized for Montreal in the 69th minute, and the teams stayed deadlocked until extra time.
In overtime, Heikel Jarras gave the Carabins the lead with a penalty kick six minutes in. Max Raab tied things up in the 21st minute, sneaking through two defenders to score. The match then headed to penalties, where it needed seven shooters on each side to resolve things. In the end, Daniel Prichard scored the deciding penalty for Cape Breton, and keeper Ben Jackson (who made nine saves during the match and was later named the tournament’s top keeper) came up with the crucial stop.
Cape Breton coach Dean Morley had great quotes afterwards:
"I was proud of the boys," Morley said. "There wasn't a real difference. We needed a bounce here and there. It's a hard way to lose and a great way to win."
When asked where he goes from here, Morley joked: "I don't know. I might have to retire (laughs). My coaches said we did draw a game this year. I have to come back to change that. In all seriousness, we just have to keep this going. I have never been happier."
Golden Bears’ Drake and Dinos’ Goyette honored, while both men and women see top-10 upsets
The U SPORTS hockey scene has a couple of its notable figures being honored Monday night with induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. One is Clare Drake, who spent 28 years coaching the University of Alberta Golden Bears men’s hockey team, won six national titles and 17 conference championships, coached the Alberta football team as well (and won a national title in that sport in 1968, becoming the only coach in Canadian history to win national titles in football and hockey in the same season). Drake inspired countless coaches and was compared to John Wooden by Mike Babcock. Here’s a video of the Golden Bears honouring Drake Saturday night at his namesake arena, complete with a new display and banner.
The other figure with U SPORTS connections honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame this week is Danielle Goyette, who played for Canada in three Olympics and nine world championships (winning gold every time in both except for silver in the 1998 Olympics and 2005 worlds) and scored 11 points in her final world championship as a player at 41 in 2007. Goyette has been coaching the Calgary Dinos since 2007, winning a national title in 2011-12, a silver medal the following year, and bronze in 2015 and 2016. Both she (3:19) and Drake (1:58) were recognized along with the other HHOF inductees at a Toronto Maple Leafs’ game Friday:
On the ice in men’s hockey, the No. 1 ranked Golden Bears extended their perfect start to the season with a 7-2 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns Friday and then a 6-1 victory over the same team in the game honouring Drake Saturday. Things went less well for the No. 4 St. Francis Xavier X-Men, who lost 5-3 to No. 2 UNB Friday before rebounding with a 4-2 win over the UPEI Panthers Saturday, and for the No. 7 UQTR Patriotes, who lost 2-1 to the RMC Paladins Friday and 4-1 to the same team Saturday.
On the women’s side, there were some big upsets. The top-ranked UBC Thunderbirds dropped a pair of games to the Saskatchewan Huskies, falling 2-0 and 2-1 Friday and Saturday, and the No. 2 Alberta Pandas lost 3-1 to Lethbridge Friday before bouncing back with a 2-1 overtime win Saturday. The No. 3 Saint Mary’s Huskies fell 2-1 to the St. Thomas Tommies Saturday, but rebounded with a 5-2 win over the Mount Allison Mounties Sunday.
Rams raise banner, fall in sold-out overtime thriller against Brock
The No. 10 Ryerson Rams celebrated their 2017 OUA men’s basketball championship with a banner-raising ceremony Saturday, but the visiting No. 2 Brock Badgers (who claimed last year’s OUA bronze) spoiled the party with a 80-75 overtime win in front of a sold-out crowd. The ceremony itself was a nice moment, though:
And the attendance was impressive:
A whole lot of those fans were visiting from St. Catharines, though:
And they made plenty of noise:
Senior guard Jean-Victor Mukama led the way for Ryerson with a career-high 23 points, while Cassidy Ryan notched 32 for Brock, including a crucial field goal with an added free throw and a three-pointer.
No. 1 Carabins fall to Rouge et Or, rebound to beat Citadins
The top-ranked Montreal Carabins suffered their first loss of the season Friday, falling in straight sets to the Laval Rouge et Or 25-21, 25-18, 26-24. Alex Beraud and Myriam Adam led the way for Laval with seven kills each, while Mikhaëlla Blanchette had 10 for Montreal, but was held to just a .192 kill percentage.
The Carabins rebounded with a four-set win over UQAM Sunday, though. Elsewhere, the No. 2 Alberta Pandas beat the Manitoba Bisons in straight sets Friday, but fell to them in five sets Saturday.
Marauders lose dual meet to Varsity Blues, but beat Gryphons
The McMaster Marauders competed in two dual meets this weekend, losing to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on both the men’s and women’s sides Saturday but beating the Guelph Gryphons on both fronts Thursday. McMaster claimed 10 gold, six silver and seven bronze medals to Guelph’s four, eight and seven Thursday. On Saturday, the No. 6 Varsity Blues men won 184-110, while Toronto’s No. 4 women earned a 191-156 win. The Varsity Blues were led by Rachael Parsons, who won both the 50 and 200 breaststroke races in meet record times, and by Hannah Genich, last year’s national 200-metre butterfly champion, who won the 200 metre freestyle and the 200 metre backstroke.
No. 5 Rouge et Or fall to Stingers
The Concordia Stingers were just outside last week’s Top 10, receiving 101 points in the vote (Queen’s was 10th with 168), but they may make a move up this week following a successful weekend. The Stingers downed the Bishop’s Gaiters 82-59 Thursday and then knocked off the No. 5 Laval Rouge et Or 55-49 Sunday. Aurélie d'Anjou Drouin led the way with 30 points Thursday, while Caroline Task had 24 Sunday. Elsewhere, the Ryerson Rams knocked off the No. 7 McMaster Marauders 83-71 Friday.
No. 7 Bobcats earn split with No. 1 Spartans
U SPORTS men’s volleyball saw some great clashes in Canada West this weekend, with the No. 7 Brandon Bobcats’ home series against the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans particularly standing out. On Friday, the Bobcats fell behind early with a 25-15 loss in the first set, but bounced back to win the second 25-19. They lost a close third set 25-23, but came back to win the final sets 25-19 and 15-13 and hand the Spartans their first loss of the season. Seth Friesen, Matt Powell and Elliott Viles all had 11 kills for Brandon, while Eric Loeppky had 17 for Trinity Western.
On Saturday, though, the Spartans dominated the first set 25-10 and went on to a four-set win. Elsewhere, the No. 8 Alberta Golden Bears beat the No. 3 Manitoba Bisons in straight sets Friday (but Manitoba reversed that outcome Saturday), and the No. 9 Calgary Dinos edged the No. 4 Winnipeg Wesmen in four sets Friday, but fell in four sets Saturday.
No. 1 Badgers claim Ryerson Open
The Brock Badgers were top-ranked on both the men’s and women’s side heading into this weekend’s Ryerson Open, and they came away with a decisive win, posting a team score of 93.0. The Western Mustangs were second with a 56.0. The Guelph Gryphons, McMaster Marauders, York Lions, University of Toronto Varsity Blues and host Rams also competed, along with several non-university clubs. Individual winners for Brock included Sam Jagas (in the 57 kg class), Cruiz Manning (72 kg), and Tina Maclaren (women’s 55 kg).
Social media posts of the week:
The Dinos’ DiFonte’s record 59-yard field goal drew a lot of attention and praise on social media. One notable tweet on that front came from Calgary Stampeders’ punter Rob Maver:
Another came from B.C. Lions’ quarterback Travis Lulay:
Andrew has been covering university sports in Canada since 2005 at outlets such as The Queen's Journal, The CIS Blog, and Yahoo Canada, where he also served as the editor of the Canadian football blog 55-Yard Line. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Queen's University with a major in history, and currently works as a staff writer and editor for Awful Announcing and The Comeback.