Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the week.
Bisons record season-opening wins over Dinos after banner-raising
The Manitoba Bisons’ women’s hockey team picked up their first national title last season, and they got their title defence off to a good start this weekend. The Bisons celebrated that title with a banner-raising Friday at Wayne Fleming Arena before a game against the Calgary Dinos, and then beat the Dinos 3-1 to open the season on the right foot. And they followed that up with a 4-1 win against the Dinos Sunday.
On Friday night, the Dinos got things started with some early pressure and got the game’s first goal at 5:02 from Elizabeth Lang. But Manitoba bounced back, with Sheridan Oswald notching a power-play marker to tie the game late in the first period and Jordyn Zacharias and Lauryn Keen scoring in the second. Alongside 22 saves from goaltender Lauren Taraschuk, that would prove all that was needed on the night.
On Sunday, the line of Oswald, Keen and Natasha Kostenko was crucial for the Bisons, accounting for two goals in the first frame. Kostenko first scored on a rebound, then Keen stole the puck and found Oswald, who was stopped on her first shot but then drove her own rebound home. Lang pulled a goal back for Calgary in the second, but Lauren Warkentin added a power-play goal for Manitoba in the third and Madison Cole added an empty-netter for insurance. Taraschuk made 15 saves on 16 shots in 49 minutes of play before she left following a collision, while backup Erin Fargey stopped the only shot she saw in the last 10-plus minutes.
Elsewhere in women’s hockey, the Saskatchewan Huskies opened their new arena of Merlis Belsher Place in style, with 1,064 fans coming out for the first game at the arena and Saskatchewan picking up a 1-0 win over the Alberta Pandas. Leah Bohlken scored for the Huskies, while Jessica Vance recorded a 24-save shutout. And coach Steve Kook was thrilled with the fan support:
"I think it was important for us, being in a new rink to get the first game over with. The result was positive and now let's go from here. The crowd was fantastic, it was more than I expected.”
No. 1 Gee-Gees beat No. 2 X-Women in second-annual Rowan’s Legacy exhibition match
Rowan Stringer passed away at 17 in May 2013 after suffering two concussions in a week while playing rugby, but her legacy continues for the sports world. The Ontario legislature passed “Rowan’s Law” this March, establishing removal and return-to-play protocols across youth sports and also focusing on educating parents and coaches about the dangers of concussions. And this weekend saw the second annual Rowan’s Legacy exhibition game in Stringer’s memory, with the No. 1 Ottawa Gee-Gees taking down the No. 2 StFX X-Women 39-7 Friday night in the match of the teams’ top squads. (The teams then played a subsequent match between their second-tier squads, which StFX won 22-15.)
The Rowan’s Legacy game was established last year to raise awareness of concussions and to raise funds for the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes, with proceeds going to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. At that time, the university also announced the creation of the Rowan Stringer Bursary, “to be awarded each year to a student-athlete who exemplifies what it means to be a teammate on and off the field of play, with a focus on ensuring the health and safety of all Gee-Gees.”
Stringer was well-known to many Gee-Gees’ players from her time with Barrhaven Scottish Rugby, and she had planned to attend the University of Ottawa; they’d honored her in previous years as well, but 2017 saw the establishment of this ongoing series. And last year’s contest served as a rematch of the 2016 national title game between StFX and Ottawa (a 27-19 X-Women victory), with the then-No. 5 Gee-Gees prevailing 33-19 over the then-No.1 X-Women. It also helped set Ottawa up for postseason success, as the Gee-Gees would go on to become the first RSEQ women’s rugby team to win a national title last November.
This year’s Rowan’s Legacy game saw Ottawa starting off strong, jumping out to a 10-0 lead at the half and then extending that lead to 31-0. St. FX was able to add a try of their own in the second half, but Ottawa responded with another one to make the score 39-7. And the weekend didn’t get much better for the X-Women varsity team, as they fell 28-22 to the No. 5 Queen’s Gaels in a further exhibition game Saturday (with Queen’s also prevailing 30-0 in the second-string game). But they were part of honoring Stringer, and they got in some matches against top opposition before their regular season resumes next week. Meanwhile, the Gee-Gees continued their undefeated streak, and they’re building towards the chance to defend their title in the playoffs.
No. 2 Rouge et Or best No. 4 Carabins 18-15 in overtime to clinch first place in Quebec
The football clashes between the Laval Rouge et Or and the Montreal Carabins are always worth watching, and they usually have a lot to say about who’s likely to do well in postseason play, in Quebec and beyond. The Rouge et Or entered this season ranked No. 2 nationally and beat the then-No. 3 Carabins 12-7 on the road in early September. On Sunday, they picked up a 18-15 overtime win at home in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,234 in the rematch against the now-No.4 Carabins. That win meant Laval improved to 6-0 and sealed the season series against Montreal, locking up first place in the RSEQ standings as a result.
The Rouge et Or got off to a good start in this one and took a 12-5 lead into the half, but the Carabins made a comeback after that thanks to some impressive defensive play. In the third quarter, Montreal defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy recovered a fumble and returned it 54 yards for a game-tying touchdown. However, Laval leaned on their own defence afterwards, with defensive back Emile Chênevert recording an interception that set up a drive for a go-ahead David Côté field goal from 20 yards out.
The Carabins got a 49-yard field goal of their own from Louis-Philippe Simoneau to tie the game and send it to overtime, and they created a first and goal from the Laval four-yard line on their first possession. From there, though, quarterback Dimitri Morand was sacked by Mathieu Betts on second down and threw incomplete on third down. On the Rouge et Or’s subsequent possession, a 28-yard rush from Christopher Amoah was key to setting up a 12-yard game-winning field goal from Côté, who was three for three on the day. Laval quarterback Hugo Richard also threw for 312 yards and a touchdown in the win, albeit with two interceptions.
Elsewhere in U SPORTS football, the No. 1 Western Mustangs thumped the Windsor Lancers 66-14 at home Thursday, recording 786 total yards to Windsor’s 144. Running back Cedric Joseph was a key part of that, picking up 355 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 17 carries (an average of 20.9 yards per carry). That was just 40 yards behind the all-time U SPORTS single-game rushing record, and Joseph probably could have picked that up if he’d played more in the second half; Western led 49-7 at the break, so Joseph and other stars were rested. But he did post the third-best U SPORTS number of all time, and the best number ever recorded by a Mustang, passing current Western head coach Greg Marshall’s mark of 317 from 1981.
Other notable results in football saw the No. 5 Ottawa Gee-Gees beat the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 53-21 Thursday, the No.6 Saint Mary’s Huskies best the Bishop’s Gaiters 18-9 Saturday, the No. 8 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks beat the No. 9 Carleton Ravens 37-31 Friday, and the McMaster Marauders edge the Queen’s Gaels 27-24 at home Friday.
Women’s field hockey
Vikes beat Thunderbirds for first time in three years, control their own destiny for trip to nationals
The seven-time defending champion UBC Thunderbirds got their weekend off to a good start with a 2-1 road win over the Victoria Vikes Saturday, but the Vikes got revenge Sunday with a 1-0 win. Fifth-year forward Delaney Booker scored the crucial goal there in the 40th minute, while keeper Robin Fleming made several critical saves, including stopping a late penalty.
That win means that Victoria is now 3-1-2 on the season, while UBC is 2-1-3, so the Vikes control their own destiny for a chance to represent Canada West at the best-of-three nationals against the OUA champions in November.
Heading to nationals would give Victoria a chance at their 12th field hockey championship banner overall, but their first since 2008. They just need two wins when they host the Calgary Dinos next weekend. Meanwhile, UBC is off next weekend before hosting the Dinos Oct. 21 and 22, but they need help from Calgary in order to have a chance to repeat.
Elsewhere in field hockey, the York Lions jumped back on top of the OUA standings with a 4-2 win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Wednesday, led by a hat trick from Jaslan Stirling. That moved the Lions one point ahead of the Varsity Blues. Stirling now has 16 goals and 32 points on the season, leading all OUA players in both categories.
Patriotes hand No. 4 Carabins first loss of the season
The No. 4 Montreal Carabins’ men’s soccer team started this season 7-0-0, but they had a tougher time this week. On Friday, they fell 2-1 to the UQTR Patriotes. Mouad Ouzane gave Montreal the lead in the 22nd minute, but Jeremy-Nathaniel Tothaud-Mouandza responded for UQTR on a penalty shot in the 28th minute. Tothaud-Mouandza then scored the winner for the Patriots in the 90th minute.
On Sunday, in a makeup game against the UQAM Citadins (one that was cancelled Sept. 21 thanks to heavy rain), the Carabins were held to a 0-0 draw. Elsewhere in men’s soccer, the No. 6 Carleton Ravens beat the No. 5 Ryerson Rams 3-0 Saturday to improve to 10-0-1. Stefan Karajovanovic, Dante Cobisa and Dario Conte scored for the Ravens in that one. However, on Sunday, the Ravens also suffered their first loss of the season, falling 3-2 to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Meanwhile, the No. 2 York Lions beat the Algoma Thunderbirds 2-0 Saturday and 7-1 Sunday. Also, reigning U SPORTS Male Athlete of the Month Jace Kotsopoulos scored his U SPORTS-leading 15th goal Friday to help the No. 8 Guelph Gryphons to a 3-1 win over the Waterloo Warriors. That one took place on School Day in front of a crowd of local school kids, and Kotsopoulos and his teammates gave them a show.
Social media posts of the week:
The RMC Paladins men’s hockey team upset the No. 6 Concordia Stingers (the 2017-18 OUA bronze medalists) in their season opener Friday, and their always-entertaining Twitter feed had some fun with that:
Elsewhere in men’s hockey, a banner-raising didn’t go so well for the McGill Redmen, who raised the Queen’s Cup banner Friday to celebrate their OUA championship last season, but then promptly lost a rivalry game to the Queen’s Gaels. Queen’s won that one 2-1 in overtime on this shot by Duncan Campbell:
And a whole lot of U SPORTS men’s hockey teams were in exhibition games against NCAA teams this week. A highlight there saw the Manitoba Bisons taking the famed North Dakota Fighting Hawks to overtime Saturday, despite being outshot 55-9:
The Bisons also played the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks Sunday, but fell 6-1:
Elsewhere, the defending U SPORTS champion Alberta Golden Bears fell 6-4 to the Denver Pioneers Saturday:
And RMC lost 6-1 to the UMass Minutemen Saturday:
While the Brock Badgers lost 3-2 to Penn State Saturday:
Elsewhere, the Badgers sent a team to represent Canada at the FISU World University Cheerleading Championship, and they finished third in the Premier All-Female Division. Photos of the Canadian team competing can be seen on Flickr here. In other international news, current Laval student Marilyn Plante was picked to represent Canada in the FISU Young Reporters Program at the next Winter Universiade, which will be held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in March:
Laval also saw success in cross country this weekend at the UNB-St. Thomas Invitational, including a win for Jean-Simon Desgagnes in the men’s eight-kilometre race:
And in women’s soccer, Queen’s fourth-year forward Jenny Wolever celebrated the team’s Seniors’ Day in style, scoring both goals in the No. 9 Gaels’ 2-0 win over the UOIT Ridgebacks Sunday:
Now that’s definitely a good way to celebrate.