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Monday Morning Quarterback: Gee-Gees win RSEQ's first national rugby title, Huskies advance to Loney Bowl

U SPORTS Staff

Women's Rugby

Gee-Gees become first RSEQ team to claim Monilex Trophy

The women’s rugby national championships in Lethbridge, Alta., saw snow, surprises and a shocking twist. For the first time in the 20-year history of Canadian university women’s rugby, a team competing in RSEQ claimed the Monilex Trophy as national champions, with the Ottawa Gee-Gees taking home that honour. Of course, this wasn’t surprising heading into Sunday’s final, as it was an all-Quebec matchup between the Gee-Gees and the Laval Rouge et Or, but the path it took to get there took some twists.

In that gold-medal match, the Rouge et Or got off to an early lead thanks to a penalty from Anne-Charlotte Beaulieu three minutes in, but the game then turned into a defensive struggle on the snowy field for 30 minutes. The 33rd minute saw Breanna Phillips put the Gee-Gees into the lead with a try, and Dria Bennett added another one in first-half stoppage time to give Ottawa a 10-3 lead (both converts were missed) heading into the break.

The second half saw Laval strike back, though, with the Rouge et Or’s Laurie Houle grabbing a ball from a ruck near the end zone and diving in for a try and Beaulieu making the convert to make it 10-10. Ottawa then tried to score off a penalty, but Emma Sandstrom hit the upright. Danielle Erdelyi eventually notched a try for the Gee-Gees with just over 20 minutes left, making it 15-10. Laval pressed hard to equalize, and kept the ball inside Ottawa’s end for most of the remaining time, but the Gee-Gees played strong defence, prevented any scores, and eventually notched another try from Phillips in the final minutes to seal the 20-10 victory. Phillips earned the player of the game nod for the Gee-Gees, while Bennett was named championship MVP. Here’s a look at some highlights from the match:

Football

Huskies get first playoff win since 2012, while Rouge et Or and Mustangs dominate

Every U SPORTS football game this weekend saw the home team win, but the most tense one may have come in Atlantic University Sport. The 5-3 Saint Mary’s Huskies were in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and searching for their first postseason win since an AUS semifinal victory in 2012, and they came up with it in a thrilling 16-15 semifinal win over the 4-4 St. Francis Xavier X-Men. This was the second-straight week SMU was involved in a one-point game, as they lost 26-25 to Mount Allison in their regular season finale last week.

The Huskies took an early 2-0 lead on a safety, but a Jonathan Heidebrecht field goal then put the X-Men up 3-2. Brian Hope responded with a field goal for Saint Mary’s to make the score 5-3 at the end of the first quarter, but Heidebrecht hit three further field goals in the second quarter to make it 12-5 for the X-Men at the half. A third-quarter rouge from Hope and a safety made it 12-8 heading into the final frame, and SMU then took the lead in the fourth when Kaleb Scott hit Archelaus Jack for a 22-yard touchdown. Heidebrecht hit another field goal to tie it at 15 with 3:25 left, though, and Hope then won the game for the Huskies in the most Canadian of ways, with a rouge with 41 seconds left off a missed field goal. StFX tried a desperation 68-yard field goal from Heidebrecht on the final play, but it fell short, letting the Huskies advance to face No. 10 Acadia in next week’s Loney Bowl.

Elsewhere, all the higher-seeded teams held serve, with particularly notable wins coming from the No. 1 Laval Rouge et Or (a 45-0 shutout of the Sherbrooke Vert et Or in the RSEQ semifinals) and the No. 2 Western Mustangs (a 66-12 win over the No. 8 Guelph Gryphons in the OUA semifinals). Quarterback Hugo Richard had a great day for Laval, completing 18 of 22 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown with one interception while rushing 10 times for 42 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Vincent Alarie-Tardif also picked up 124 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. The Rouge et Or will next host the No. 3 Montreal Carabins (who beat Sherbrooke 24-7) in the Dunsmore Cup, their 15th consecutive appearance in that provincial final.

For Western, RB Cedric Joseph collected four touchdowns and 69 rushing yards, while Trey Humes added 88 rushing yards and Alex Taylor had 57 yards. The Mustangs will face the No. 5 Laurier Golden Hawks (who beat No. 7 McMaster 19-6) in next week’s Yates Cup. Out west, the No. 4. Calgary Dinos got revenge on Alberta for last week’s 53-3 regular season loss, beating the Golden Bears 39-22, while the No. 6 UBC Thunderbirds downed the No. 9 Regina Rams 28-21. Calgary will next host UBC in the Hardy Cup.

Field Hockey

Thunderbirds win seventh straight national title

The UBC Thunderbirds hoisted their record seventh straight McCrae Cup as U SPORTS national champions this weekend, besting the York Lions 2-0 both Friday and Saturday. Fifth-year captains Sophie Jones and Sarah Keglowitsch were key to those wins, scoring a goal each in Saturday’s final (in the 33rd and 49th minutes respectively), with Keglowitsch named championship MVP. U SPORTS Player of the Year Rowan Harris was also crucial for UBC, recording shutouts in both of the championship games. Here’s Jones’ goal:

York put up a good fight, though, and the Lions have a young team with just two fifth-year players. They’ll likely be a force in the coming seasons. But this was a big win for UBC, and it was particularly notable for their players to win it in front of a home crowd:

This was a really special one for them. We haven’t hosted a championship series for a long, long time. None of them have ever been a part of it at home so to do it with a good performance in front of family and friends who have been supporting them not just this year but their entire careers was really special.

Robin D’Abreo - Thunderbirds Head coach

Men's Soccer

Lions, Carabins, Capers and Thunderbirds take conference titles

The conference Final Four tournaments took place this weekend, and York, Montreal, Cape Breton and UBC came out on top. After beating No. 10 Ryerson 2-1 on penalties in the semifinals, the No. 5 Lions claimed their fourth OUA title in five years with a 2-0 win over the No. 4 Carleton Ravens (who beat No. 8 McMaster to get to the final). York wound up back on top of the conference after a silver-medal finish last season thanks to goals from Dylan Carreiro and Joey Cicchillo.

In Quebec, the No. 2 Carabins edged the UQAM Citadins 2-1 in a shootout, a game that ended regulation scoreless but saw Frédéric Lajoie-Gravelle and Jean-Christophe Biaye score in extra time for Montreal and UQAM respectively; the Carabins then scored on all five of their shooutout attempts, while the Citadins only converted four. Montreal previously beat McGill in the semifinals, while UQAM upset No. 9 Laval.

Out east, the No. 1 Capers continued their strong run with a 5-0 win over the Acadia Axemen in the semis and a 1-0 win over the UNB Varsity Reds in the final, claiming their second-straight AUS championship thanks to a goal from Stuart Heath. Meanwhile, Canada West saw quite an upset, with the No. 4 Alberta Golden Bears falling to the Trinity Western Spartans 3-2 in overtime in the semifinals. On the other side of the draw, the No. 6 UBC Thunderbirds beat the Thompson Rivers WolfPack 3-1, and UBC made an impressive comeback to beat Trinity Western 3-2 in overtime in the finals, bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit in the 59th minute on the strength of goals from Victory Shumbusho (in the 69th minute) and Kerman Pannu (in the 80th minute) and a winning goal from Connor Guilherme (in the 95th minute). Here’s that tying goal:

And the team’s eventual celebration:

Thompson Rivers will host the U SPORTS Respect Group Men's Soccer Championship in Kamloops, B.C., this coming week. The quarterfinals will see UBC facing UNB, Montreal taking on Carleton, York against the host WolfPack and Cape Breton playing UQAM.

Women's soccer

Gryphons, Rouge et Or, Spartans and Capers claim conference championships

The biggest upset of the weekend in women’s soccer came in Ontario, where the No. 2 UOIT Ridgebacks and No. 3 Western Mustangs both went down. The Guelph Gryphons upset the Ridgebacks in the semifinals and the Mustangs in the final, winning both games on penalties after they finished 2-2 and 1-1 at the end of regulation respectively. That gave the Gryphons their first-ever OUA title, and a strong performance from keeper Libby Brenneman was key there; she made three saves in the shootout against UOIT (which Guelph won 3-2) and two saves in the shootout against Western (which Guelph won 3-0). On the offensive side, striker Victoria Hinchcliffe was key for the Gryphons, scoring two goals in regulation plus the winning penalty against the Ridgebacks and notching the winning penalty against the Mustangs. Here’s Hinchcliffe’s winning penalty against UOIT:

And Brenneman’s interview after winning the gold medal:

In Quebec, the No. 1 Laval Rouge et Or beat the Sherbrooke Vert et Or 2-0 in the semifinals before edging the Montreal Carabins 1-0 in the finals. Out east, the No. 5 Cape Breton Capers topped UNB 4-0 and then bested Acadia 2-1. And in Canada West, the No. 4 Trinity Western Spartans beat No. 8 UBC 3-0 and then topped No. 6 Victoria 2-1.

The Manitoba Bisons will host this year’s U SPORTS Women’s Soccer Championship, which will kick off Thursday and run through Sunday. Laval is seeded first and will face the Mustangs in the quarterfinals, while second-seeded Trinity Western will take on the Bisons, third-seeded Guelph will play the Carabins and the fourth-seeded Capers will face the Vikes.

Women's basketball

Rouge et Or knock off top-ranked Martlets

The RSEQ regular season kicked off with a bang Saturday with a rematch of last season’s championship game, but this time around the other team won. The McGill Martlets topped the Laval Rouge et Or 66-55 in the 2017 championship game and entered the season ranked No. 1 as a result, but the No. 6 Rouge et Or came out with a 58-50 win and cast a bit of a damper on McGill’s banner-raising in the process. However, the Martlets were still pretty thrilled with their banner and championship rings:

Sarah-Jane Marois and Raphaëlle Côté each scored 13 points for Laval, while Frederique Potvin had 15 for McGill. The game had 15 lead changes overall, but the Rouge et Or really took charge down the stretch, outscoring the Martlets 14-5 in the final frame. 

Other Top 10 upsets included the Queen’s Gaels beating the No. 5 McMaster Marauders 90-79 and the Western Mustangs besting the No. 8 Ryerson Rams 66-55.

Men's Hockey

No. 3 X-Men suffer a pair of losses

The St. Francis Xavier X-Men entered the week with a 8-0-0 record and a No. 3 ranking, but then things went poorly for them in a couple of close games. They fell 5-4 in a shootout to the Saint Mary’s Huskies Wednesday, and then lost 6-5 in overtime to the No. 7 Acadia Axemen Friday. The Acadia game was remarkable, as the Axemen led 5-1 partway through the second period before four straight goals from the X-Men, but Acadia won it in overtime on forward Stephen Harper’s second goal of the game. Both teams also finished that one shorthanded thanks to a fight near the end of the second period that saw four players ejected on each side, leaving the Axemen with 12 players and the X-Men with 15.

Other Top 10 upsets included the Laurier Golden Hawks beating the No. 5 York Lions 6-2 Thursday and the Queen’s Gaels edging the No. 9 UQTR Patriotes 2-1 in overtime Saturday.

Women's volleyball

Cougars edge No. 1 Pandas

The Alberta Pandas began this week with a 2-0-0 record and a No. 1 ranking, but the Regina Cougars recorded a come-from-behind five-set victory against them Friday. Regina won the first set 25-20, but Alberta picked up 25-18 and 25-15 wins to seem back on track. The Cougars then won the fourth set 25-23, though, and the fifth 15-8.

Setter Satomi Togawa was particularly crucial for the Cougars, combining with Kathleen Ens for a block and then recording two decisive service aces to seal the fifth set. She finished the night with 39 assists and 10 digs. Alberta did beat Regina in four sets the following night, though. Elsewhere in the top 10, No. 2 Calgary lost two matches to No. 8 UBC and No. 6 UBC Okanagan beat No. 4 Mount Royal.

Men's basketball

No. 5 Dinos best No. 4 Thunderbirds

The UBC Thunderbirds entered this week at No. 4 and the Calgary Dinos were ranked No. 5, but the Dinos looked like the better team this weekend, recording 100-76 and 92-74 home wins over the Thunderbirds. Mambi Diawara scored 24 points in that first one; one of his three-pointers can be seen here.

In the second one, David Kapinga took over for the Dinos, finishing with 24 points, seven assists and four steals. Elsewhere in top 10 upsets, the No. 7 Ryerson Rams fell 62-59 to the Western Mustangs.

Women's hockey

Aigles Bleus beat No. 5 X-Women

The St. Francis Xavier X-Women were 5-0-1 and ranked fifth nationally heading into this week, but fell 2-1 to the Moncton Aigles Bleus Friday. Katryne Villeneuve and Sarah-Ève Mailhot scored for Moncton in that one, while Gabrielle Forget made 32 saves and earned the win. Daley Oddy scored the lone goal for the X-Women.

StFX bounced back with a 3-2 overtime win over the UPEI Panthers Sunday. Elsewhere in the Top 10, No. 8 Guelph and No. 10 Queen’s both earned a pair of wins.

Men's Volleyball

Thunderbirds knock off No. 9 Dinos

The No. 9 Calgary Dinos came into this week with a perfect 4-0-0 record, but lost two road matches to the UBC Thunderbirds. On Friday, UBC won the first two sets 25-21, but Calgary stormed back to take sets three and four 25-23 and 25-22. The Thunderbirds then came out with a 15-13 final-set win to take the match, led by left side hitter Irvan Brar’s 19 kills, right side hitter Matt Guidi’s 10 kills and four aces, left side hitter Coltyn Liu’s nine kills and one ace, and setter Byron Keturakis’ 49 assists, three aces, three blocks and four kills.

On Saturday, UBC picked up a four-set victory, led by Brar’s 15 kills.

 

Swimming

Gee-Gees top two meets

It was a busy weekend for the Ottawa Gee-Gees swim teams, who claimed first in a Sherbrooke-hosted tri-meet with the host Vert et Or and the Laurentian Voyageurs Friday and then won another tri-meet at Laval with the host Rouge et Or and the Voyageurs Saturday. At Laval, Ottawa particularly dominated in the women’s 800-meter freestyle, with Mackenzie Finkbeiner, Adelle Yamashita-Ball and Delphine Vandal claiming the first through third spots, and the women’s 50-meter butterfly, where Dana Sherrard, Cattuong Le and Katherine Peel sealed first through third.

Out west, the UBC Thunderbirds hosted the Odlum Brown Colleges Cup and came away with the event title with a combined score of 2438. The Calgary Dinos finished second with 1994 points, while the Victoria Vikes finished third with 1433. An unaffiliated Team West was fourth, while  the Manitoba Bisons were fifth and the Regina Cougars were sixth. Rio Olympians Markus Thormeyer and Yuri Kusil stood out for UBC; Thormeyer won both the 100-metre and 200-metre backstroke, while Kusil won the 50-metre and 200-metre freestyle. Josiah Binnema also did well for the Thunderbirds in his return after a year off, winning the 50-metre backstroke and combining with Thormeyer and Kusil for victories in the 200-metre freestyle relay (with Colton Peterson) and 400-metre medley relay (with Jaren LeFranc).

Social media posts of the week:

The StFX X-Men had a neat ceremony this week to celebrate their gym renovation and honor veteran men’s basketball head coach Steve Konchalski. Konchalski is in his 43rd year as X-Men head coach and is the winningest men’s basketball coach in Canadian university history. The newly-renovated Oland Centre’s main gym had its “Coach K Court” dedicated Saturday night, following a special dinner Friday. Here are some tweets from those events:

Here’s more on the court dedication from St. FX’s release:

Prior to the game StFX University President Dr. Kent MacDonald officially opened the newly renovated main gymnasium - Coach K Court - dedicated and named in honor of veteran X-Men basketball head coach Steve Konchalski. President MacDonald, along with Director of Athletics & Recreation Leo MacPherson spoke to the legacy of Coach K, and the legendary 43-year coach himself thanked many individuals who helped him along his coaching journey. The gymnasium renovation came to fruition due to several generous donors.