Men’s Cross Country
Women’s field hockey
Taylor Guy and the Dinos come back for a 2-2 draw against the Vikes
The last two decades have seen the UBC Thunderbirds and Victoria Vikes dominate U SPORTS field hockey at both the Canada West and national levels, but the Calgary Dinos got a result in edgewise this weekend. Since 2000, the Vikes have won four national titles (including last year’s, but their previous one was in 2008), while the Thunderbirds have claimed 13 (including a run of seven straight from 2011-17); two of the other national titles in that span went to the Toronto Varsity Blues, while the other one (in 2005) went to the Alberta Pandas.
With the Pandas ending their field hockey program in 2012, that left just the Thunderbirds, Vikes and Dinos competing in Canada West, and the B.C. teams have usually come out on top there. But on Saturday, the Dinos earned an impressive 2-2 home draw against the defending national champion Vikes. And they did so thanks to a remarkable sequence of events in the final minutes.
The first quarter of Saturday’s match saw Calgary goalkeeper Taylor Guy forced to make multiple saves to keep the score 0-0, and she followed that up with a spectacular diving save in the second quarter to ensure it was still 0-0 at the half. In the third quarter, Melanie Robertson finally managed to beat Guy, putting Victoria up 1-0, and the Dinos proved unable to equalize at first, even after pulling Guy late in the contest for an extra attacker. And the Vikes looked set to pick up the win after Anna Mollenauer added an empty-net goal in the 57th minute.
But Calgary kept Guy on the bench despite the 2-0 deficit, and that paid off for them. Abigail Fung scored in the 59th minute for the Dinos to make it 2-1, and then in the final seconds, Calgary captain Jenna Birch-Jones was able to find the equalizer. That gave the Dinos their first point of the regular season (they opened Canada West play with a pair of one-goal home losses against the Thunderbirds last weekend), and it meant the Vikes started their season without a win. And afterwards, Calgary head coach Roel Van Maastrigt was full of praise for Guy.
“Taylor was phenomenal today. She’s from Victoria so this game meant a lot to her.”
The Vikes were able to bounce back with a 3-0 win Sunday, but the Dinos’ draw Saturday was still a notable result, especially given how it happened. Elsewhere in U SPORTS field hockey, a significant OUA result saw the Toronto Varsity Blues beat the defending conference champion York Lions 3-1 Sunday.
Gryphons and Marauders top Bill Salter Invitational, while X-Women and Tigers shine in StFX Invitational
The U SPORTS cross country season got rolling this weekend with OUA and AUS meets, and some interesting teams came out on top. The Guelph Gryphons and McMaster Marauders were both ranked third nationally (on the women’s and men’s sides respectively) in the first Top 10 rankings this week, but they both finished on top in the OUA meet (the Bill Salter Invitational at Western), beating out higher-ranked competition.
The women’s Gryphons placed third at last year’s national championships behind the Laval Rouge et Or and the host Queen’s Gaels, but they have 13 national titles overall, and had high hopes heading into this season. And they got off to a good start Saturday at Western, with Cameron Ormond placing first (in a time of 21:47 for the six-kilometre race) and other runners placing eighth, ninth, 11th and 13th respectively, giving Guelph the women’s team title. No. 1 Queen’s finished second on the team side, with qualifying runners placing second, third, sixth, 17th and 20th. (This week also saw a good story about former Queen’s assistant coach Brant Stachel, who joined UBC this offseason as lead endurance coach and operations manager for the Thunderbirds’ cross country and track and field programs.)
Meanwhile, on the men’s side at Western, the Marauders finished in first with qualifying runners placing second, sixth, eighth, 14th and 16th amongst university competition. Max Turek led the way for them with a time of 25:35 for the eight-kilometre race and a second-place finish. The individual university title went to Guelph’s Mitch Urbene with a time of 25:29, and the No. 2 Gryphons finished second overall, with runners placing first, fifth, 11th, 15th and 22nd.
The AUS cross country season also got rolling this week with the StFX Invitational in Antigonish, Nova Scotia Saturday, which was a week later than expected; last week’s SMU/DAL Invitational in Halifax was cancelled thanks to the anticipated impact of Hurricane Dorian. The Dalhousie Tigers finished first on the men’s side, with the host StFX X-Women topping the women’s side. Saint Mary’s Huskies runner Andrew Peverill won the individual men’s title with a time of 25:07.28 for the 8-kilometre course, while StFX’s Jane Hergett topped the field on the women’s side with a time of 21:54.53 for the six-kilometre course.
No. 1 Mustangs narrowly edge No. 6 Gryphons in defensive battle
The Western Mustangs wound up atop the national rankings this week thanks to a loss by the (previous No. 1) Laval Rouge et Or last week, but their first game this season as the No. 1 team saw them facing a tough test; a road clash against the No. 6 Guelph Gryphons that served as a rematch of last year’s Yates Cup. The Mustangs eventually emerged with a 9-3 win thanks to three field goals from Marc Liegghio, but it certainly wasn’t an easy one for them. It did mark their 25th straight victory against OUA competion, though, and it meant they improved to 5-0 on the season.
The Western defence deserves a lot of credit for that one, as they held Guelph to 201 passing yards and 78 yards rushing with no touchdowns. Zach Lindley recorded a team-high six tackles for the Mustangs (four solo) and added an interception, while Mark Shelley had 5.5 tackles (including one for a loss) and a forced fumble. Devin Comber also had five tackles (two for a loss) and a sack.
Elsewhere in U SPORTS football, RSEQ play saw the No. 2 Montreal Carabins with a bye, but the No. 3 Rouge et Or picked up a 37-17 home win against McGill. In Canada West, the No. 4 Calgary Dinos improved to 4-0 with a 20-9 home win over the Regina Rams Friday, while the No. 7 Saskatchewan Huskies lost 19-17 on the road to the Alberta Golden Bears Saturday. In AUS, the No. 5 Acadia Axemen survived a comeback from the Mount Allison Mounties to post a 22-15 home win, while OUA play saw the No. 7 McMaster Marauders record a 47-19 home victory against the Windsor Lancers, the No. 9 Ottawa Gee-Gees pick up a 46-12 road win against the York Lions, and the No. 10 Toronto Varsity Blues fall 37-33 at home to the Queen’s Gaels.
No. 1 Carabins held to 2-2 draw by Stingers
The Montreal Carabins won their first U SPORTS title in men’s soccer last fall, and they began this season with a perfect 4-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in last week’s Top 10. They continued their winning streak with a 4-1 road victory against McGill Thursday, but it ended Sunday with a 2-2 home draw against the Concordia Stingers.
In that one, Concordia’s Simon Spénard-Lapierre and Alberto Correa scored in the first half, but Montreal responded with second-half goals from Aboubacar Sissoko and Rida Aboulhamid (the latter on a penalty). Aboulhamid’s penalty was actually the second late one the Carabins were awarded, but Stingers’ keeper Julian Petrilli stopped the first one (from Omar Kreim).
Elsewhere in men’s soccer, the No. 2 Cape Breton Capers picked up a pair of road wins this weekend in AUS play, beating the Saint Mary’s Huskies 4-2 and the Acadia Axemen 6-0. In OUA play, the No. 3 York Lions and No.4 Carleton Ravens each recorded wins this weekend (one and two respectively), but the No. 5 Ryerson Rams lost to the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks and then drew against the No. 7 Toronto Varsity Blues. In Canada West, the No. 6 UBC Thunderbirds picked up road wins against the MacEwan Griffins and Alberta Golden Bears.
Social media posts of the week
In men’s hockey, Friday saw the Ryerson Rams held their much-hyped first men’s hockey homecoming game in 40-plus years, part of a wider effort to coordinate the university’s homecoming efforts with the athletic department. And they picked up a 4-1 win over the defending OUA champion Queen’s Gaels in front of a crowd of 2,450 fired-up fans.
In international wrestling, the senior world championships were held this week in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, and Concordia alum Linda Morais (who won gold at the World University Championships in 2016 and 2018) won gold in the 59 kg weight class, coming back from a 6-1 deficit on points to beat Russia’s Liubov Ovcharova with a pin:
In international women’s hockey, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association held the first stop of their Dream Gap Tour in Toronto this weekend, the Unifor Showcase, with plenty of U SPORTS alums involved in the games there. One of those is former Laurier Golden Hawks goalie Liz Knox, a captain for one of the teams. Knox had a cool Twitter post showing her with some young fans who attended:
In international women’s basketball, the Canadian women’s 3X3 team stretched their streak of consecutive FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series titles to four at an event in Edmonton this weekend. That team is comprised of Katherine Plouffe, Michelle Plouffe, Paige Crozon, and Carleton Ravens’ alum Catherine Traer.
And in international women’s soccer news, the University World Cup - Football will be held this November in Jinjiang, China, with the reigning U SPORTS champion Ottawa Gee-Gees representing U SPORTS and Canada. The group draw was held this week, and the Gee-Gees were placed in a group with teams from China, Russia and Thailand:
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.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewBucholtz