Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the week across Canada West, the OUA, RSEQ and the AUS.
Gee-Gees claim gold at University World Cup
The inaugural KELME 2019 FISU University World Cup – Football took place in Jinjiang, China over the past two weeks, and the 2018 U SPORTS champion Ottawa Gee-Gees were one of the eight women’s teams involved, representing Canada and U SPORTS. The Gee-Gees did an incredible job of that, going on a run through the tournament and then beating Brazil’s Paulista University 1-0 in Saturday’s final. That win came thanks to a second-minute goal on a header from Mikayla Morton following a corner kick from fellow 2019 All-Canadian selection Katherine Bearne:
The Gee-Gees then turned in a terrific defensive performance to preserve their lead, and they wound up with a lot to celebrate:
To get to this point, the Gee-Gees posted three wins in pool play and then edged Beijing’s Normal University on penalty kicks in the semifinals. They also kept up with their studies, with midfielder Adriane Devlin even taking a chemistry mid-term exam while at the tournament. And then they managed that final win to take home the gold, plus some individual awards; one of those saw first-year Ottawa defender Trinity Esprit named the tournament MVP.
This isn’t the first time a Canadian school has brought back gold in a international university competition. The FISU University World Cup – Football (which covers both men’s and women’s soccer) was created following the success of the annual 3x3 basketball event, held each year in China for both men’s and women’s teams. Canadian university teams have won six medals in those 3x3 basketball competitions, including gold medals from the the UQAM and McGill men's teams in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
A full recap of the Gee-Gees’ gold-medal match victory can be found here.
No. 1 Ravens and No. 4 Gee-Gees post wins over No. 8 Voyageurs
A pair of men’s basketball Top 10 clashes took place this weekend, with the No. 1 Carleton Ravens and No. 4 Ottawa Gee-Gees each hosting the No. 8 Laurentian Voyageurs. On Friday, the Ravens beat the Voyageurs 87-56. On Saturday, the Gee-Gees topped the Voyageurs 74-65.
Friday’s game saw a slow start for the Ravens, as they were outscored 14-11 in the first quarter and only hit three of their first 16 shots. But they quickly bounced back and led 38-29 at the half. Carleton held Laurentian to 36 percent shooting on the night, and they contained Laurentian star Kadre Gray (the 2017-18 winner of the Doug Mitchell Trophy as the U SPORTS men’s athlete of the year, and the winner of the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as the U SPORTS men’s basketball player of the year in both 2017-18 and 2018-19) to just 20 points on 5-of-18 shooting from the field. A lot of that was thanks to the defensive efforts of reigning two-time U SPORTS Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Anderson, who guarded Gray for much of the night.
Saturday’s game saw the Gee-Gees lead 19-17 after the first quarter, 35-27 at the half, and 51-42 after three quarters. But things got a lot closer early in the fourth, and the Voyageurs cut the lead to just two points with 8:58 left. It was close for a lot of the quarter, but Ottawa eventually managed to come out on top. Kevin Civil and Calvin Epistola each had 19 points for the Gee-Gees. For Laurentian, Gray had 38 points and Cedric Nga Mbiaba had 15.
No. 7 Axemen best No. 1 Reds
The No. 7 Acadia Axemen men’s hockey team hosted the No. 1 UNB Reds Friday, and they emerged with a 3-2 win. Alexander Lepkowski scored in the first period for Acadia, but Olivier LeBlanc responded for UNB. In the second period, though, Eric Henderson and Jack Flaman added goals for Acadia against a response from UNB’s Matthew Boucher. And the Axemen were able to hang on for a win, with Logan Flodell’s 40 saves playing a key part there.
On Saturday, Acadia beat the Moncton Aigles Bleus 4-3 in overtime at home thanks to goals from Jordy Stallard, Cristiano DiGiacinto, Maurizio Colella and Owen MacDonald. Also on Saturday, the Reds beat the Saint Mary’s Huskies 8-1 on the road.
No. 7 Thunderbirds post a pair of straight-set road wins against No. 5 Golden Bears
The UBC Thunderbirds came away with a pair of very impressive men’s volleyball wins this weekend. The Thunderbirds were ranked seventh nationally as of last Tuesday’s rankings, but they beat the No. 5 Alberta Golden Bears in straight sets twice on the road this weekend.
On Friday, UBC won 25-14, 27-25, 25-22 behind 10 kills from Matt Neaves and eight kills and four digs from Michael Dowhaniuk. On Saturday, the Thunderbirds won 25-23, 25-20, 25-22 behind 11 kills and six aces from Coltyn Liu, plus seven kills apiece from Dowhaniuk and Gerard Murray. The wins mean that the Thunderbirds are now 9-3 on the year and third in the Canada West standings (behind the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans and No. 2 Brandon Bobcats).
No. 4 Varsity Blues get revenge on No. 9 Warriors
One of the most interesting women’s hockey matchups this weekend saw the No. 4 University of Toronto Varsity Blues hosting the No. 9 Waterloo Warriors Saturday. These teams met last Saturday in Waterloo, with the Warriors winning that clash 5-0, but the tables were turned this week in Toronto. On Saturday, the Varsity Blues came out with a 2-1 home win.
Saturday’s game saw Toronto’s Cristine Chao open the scoring seven minutes into the contest, but Krystin Lawrence tied it up for Waterloo in the third period. After that, though, the Varsity Blues’ Lauren MacDonnell intercepted a past and sent a shot in off Chao, which proved to be the game-winning goal. Erica Fryer made 24 saves for Toronto to earn the win.
Social media posts of the week:
After winning the Vanier Cup last week as U SPORTS football champions, the Calgary Dinos got to celebrate on campus this week:
The Dinos were also honoured ahead of the Calgary Flames' NHL game Saturday against the Ottawa Senators:
In cross country, the Canadian Cross Country Championships were held Saturday in Abbotsford, BC. A notable U SPORTS result came from Guelph Gryphons’ alum Geneviève Lalonde, who won a national title in the 10-kilometre race last year (her first cross country race in four years) and followed that up with another win this year, posting a winning time of 33 minutes, 22.356 seconds:
In men’s volleyball, the No. 9 Queen’s Gaels drew 1,904 fans to a school day exhibition match against the Volleyball Canada National Excellence Program Thursday. The NEP team won 25-23, 25-13 and 26-24, and also took a fourth set 25-19.
Also in volleyball, Ottawa and Calgary were selected to host the women’s and men’s (respectively) Volleyball Nations Leagues stops in Canada this coming year. The Ottawa stop will see the Canadian senior women’s team hosting an event including the Netherlands, Poland and Japan at The Arena at TD Place from June 2-4, while the Calgary stop will see the Canadian senior men’s team hosting an event including Serbia, Australia and China from June 19-21 at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park.
In women’s basketball, the Canadian senior team (featuring several U SPORTS-connected figures, including head coach Lisa Thomadis, who’s also the head coach of the Saskatchewan Huskies’ women’s team) is headed to Ostende, Belgium for the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament from Feb. 6 -9. Canada will face Belgium, Japan and Sweden there.
In men’s basketball, the Canadian senior national team (featuring several U SPORTS alums, including Carleton Ravens’ alums Phil and Thomas Scrubb) will face Greece and China in the group stage of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (which will be held in June 23-28):
Also in men’s basketball, the Canadian Elite Basketball League (which features quite a few U SPORTS alums) announced a three-year broadcast partnership with CBC this week:
And in women’s hockey, the rosters were named for the 2020 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship (held in Bratislava, Slovakia from Dec. 26-Jan. 2) and the senior women’s team’s Rivalry Series games against the U.S. (Dec. 14 in Hartford, Conn., and Dec. 17 in Moncton, N.B.), with both rosters featuring significant U SPORTS connections. Those include U18 team head coach Howie Draper of the Alberta Pandas and senior players Mélodie Daoust and Ann-Sophie Bettez (both from McGill):
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