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.
Gaels claim first women’s national title at home, Dinos repeat as men’s champions
The U SPORTS cross country championships were hosted by the Queen’s Gaels at Kingston’s Fort Henry Hill for the second straight year, and they came out on top on the women’s side Saturday for their first national title. The Gaels had been ranked first all year, and they came through again Saturday, finishing with 53 team points; the Guelph Gryphons were second with 74, and the defending champion Laval Rouge et Or were third with 96.
Queen’s top finisher was Branna MacDougall, who placed third with a time of 28:01.0, behind the University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ Lucia Stafford (27:30.3) and Laval’s Anne-Marie Comeau (27:44.2) The Gaels’ Kara Blair (28:17.3) and Brogan MacDougall (28:19.6) placed fourth and fifth. Stafford was named the athlete of the year after winning gold in both the OUA championships and the national championships. A full recap of the women’s championship race can be found here.
On the men’s side, the Calgary Dinos won their first-ever national title on this course last year, and they defended it in style Saturday, posting 63 team points to again take the championship. Calgary was led by Russell Pennock (who finished with a time of 30:55.2) and Matthew Travaglini (30:58.4), who placed third and fourth respectively behind the UBC Thunderbirds’ Kieran Lumb (30:41.8, named the athlete of the year) and Guelph’s Mitchell Ubene (30:49.3).
The Gryphons and the McMaster Marauders both finished with 82 team points, but McMaster earned second place and Guelph took third. That was based on the performance of the Marauders’ fifth-fastest runner, Evan Ubene, who finished 35th overall with a time of 32:13.1. The Gryphons’ fifth-fastest runner was Gavin Hughes, who finished 39th overall with a time of 32:16.8. A full recap of the men’s championship race can be found here.
Patriotes claim first national title thanks to 15 saves from Félix Clapin-Girard
Sunday’s gold-medal match at the 2019 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship presented by La Cage – Brasserie sportive in Montreal saw the UQTR Patriotes emerge with a 2-0 win over the host and defending champion Montreal Carabins. Last week’s RSEQ championship saw Montreal beat UQTR 2-0 to win their third-straight conference title, but the result was reversed Sunday.
This one saw Félix Clapin-Girard make an amazing 15 saves for the Patriotes, earning his third clean sheet in three tournament matches in the process. He was named the tournament MVP. Meanwhile, Guillaume Comtois-Noël scored for UQTR in the 28th minute and set up a late insurance goal from Gabriel Balbinotti.
Thunderbirds claim seventh title with win over conference foes
The gold-medal match at the 2019 U SPORTS Women’s Soccer Championship in Victoria also saw a rematch of a conference title match from last week, and it also saw the eventual result flipped. Last week, the Calgary Dinos beat the UBC Thunderbirds 1-0 to take the Canada West championship. Both teams then went on a run through the field at the national championships to set up a gold-medal rematch, with UBC beating the Montreal Carabins and the Acadia Axewomen and Calgary getting past the host Victoria Vikes and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. But in Sunday’s gold-medal clash, it was the Thunderbirds that prevailed this time, thanks to a 79th-minute header from championship MVP Danielle Steer.
That goal, combined with some key saves from keeper Emily Moore, gave UBC their seventh women’s soccer national title overall, and their first since 2015.
A full recap of the gold-medal match can be found here.
No. 1 Mustangs and No. 2 Rouge et Or both fall in conference championship games
The conference football championship games took place Saturday across U SPORTS, and the teams that were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final Top 10 rankings this week both went down. In the 112th edition of the Yates Cup Saturday, the No. 1 Western Mustangs suffered their first loss in OUA competition since the 2016 Yates Cup, falling 29-15 at home against the No. 3 McMaster Marauders. Meanwhile, in the RSEQ conference championship, the 40th edition of the Dunsmore Cup, the No. 2 Laval Rouge et Or lost 25-10 at home to the No. 5 Montreal Carabins.
The Yates Cup game started well for Western, with McMaster turning over the ball three times on their first four offensive possessions. The Mustangs earned a touchdown and a field goal off those first two turnovers, taking a 10-0 lead. After that, though, it was all Marauders, with McMaster leading 22-10 at the half and then holding on the rest of the way.
Western also lost OUA MVP Chris Merchant to injury partway through this one, and backup Kevin John was picked off twice. Eryk Bujalski and Nate Edwards were key defensive standouts for McMaster, recording seven and five tackles respectively (with Edwards adding two of the Marauders’ five sacks), and McMaster quarterback Andreas Dueck was named the winner of the Dalt White Trophy as the Yates Cup MVP after completing 17 of 24 passes for 238 yards (with one early interception).
In the RSEQ game, the Carabins claimed their third Dunsmore Cup ever, with the past two coming in 2014 and 2015. They picked up a couple of crucial plays on special teams, with Jean-Philippe Lévesque blocking a punt and Marc-Antoine Dequoy returning a fumble (off a fake field goal attempt by Laval) 85 yards for a touchdown. On defence, Jean-Sébastien Bélisle and Bruno Lagacé recorded seven and six tackles respectively, and on offence, quarterback Frédéric Paquette-Perrault completed 16 of 25 passes for 203 yards and also rushed for 48 yards.
Next Saturday, the Marauders will head west to face the No. 7 Calgary Dinos in the Mitchell Bowl. Calgary won the 83rd Hardy Cup Saturday, posting a 29-4 victory over the No. 6 Saskatchewan Huskies to claim the Canada West title. Meanwhile, the Carabins will head east to face the No. 4 Acadia Axemen in the Uteck Bowl; Acadia beat the Bishop’s Gaiters 31-1 Saturday in the Loney Bowl to take the AUS title. The winners of the Mitchell Bowl and the Uteck Bowl will meet in the 55th Vanier Cup presented by Promutuel Insurance on Nov. 23, which will be hosted in Quebec City by Laval.
Gee-Gees take down No. 2 Carabins
Friday saw a big upset in RSEQ women’s hockey, with the Ottawa Gee-Gees posting a 2-1 home win against the No. 2 Montreal Carabins. Mylène Lefebvre opened the scoring for Montreal three minutes into the game, deflecting a Breanne Dondo shot past Gee-Gees’ goalie Jennifer Walker. Ottawa would respond on a power play 10 minutes later when Marimée Godbout-Parent tipped a point shot from Christine Deaudelin past Carabins’ goalie Maude Trevisan.
The Gee-Gees then scored the crucial clinching goal in the third period, with Sophie Gareau taking a pass from Deaudelin in close and firing the puck home. Walker made 31 saves for Ottawa in the win, while Trevisan made 17 saves for Montreal. This marked the Carabins’ first regulation loss of the season.
No. 2 Rams edge No. 5 Warriors in five sets to stay unbeaten
The No. 2 Ryerson Rams picked up a pair of road wins this weekend to improve to 6-0 in OUA play, but neither came easy. On Friday, Ryerson beat the Guelph Gryphons in five sets (25-16, 13-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-11), and on Saturday, the Rams edged the No. 5 Waterloo Warriors in five sets (23-25, 25-12, 25-23, 23-25, 16-14).
Saturday’s match was particularly notable as a clash of Top 10 teams, and it put the Rams to the test. In the end, it was rookie Jasmine Rivest who was crucial to their win; she posted 20 kills, a service ace, a solo block, and a hitting percentage of .606. Ryerson’s attackers as a whole posted a hitting percentage of .343, a season-high. Other impressive showings came from the Rams’ Caitlin Wark (16 kills, including the 500th of her Ryerson career, and a combination block with Lindsay Kleuskens on match point), Brett Hagarty (four aces and 13 digs) and Katelyn Grasman (four blocks).
Social media posts of the week
The CFL’s division semifinals took place Sunday, with lots of U SPORTS products making an impact. One of those was former Manitoba Bisons’ star Nic Demski, a first-round draft pick for the Saskatchewan Roughriders back in 2015, and a star for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers over the past two seasons. Demski recorded three carries for 53 yards and a touchdown and added a nine-yard catch in Winnipeg’s 35-14 road win over the Calgary Stampeders Sunday. Here’s his third-quarter 33-yard rushing touchdown, which gave the Bombers a lead they’d never relinquish:
In men’s rugby, the conference championships took place this weekend, and the Queen’s Gaels won their third-straight OUA title with a 27-18 home win over the Guelph Gryphons Sunday. That was also the Gaels’ 28th consecutive win overall.
Elsewhere, the 2019 Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Awards Gala was held in Richmond, B.C. this week, and amongst the coaches recognized were current University of Toronto swimming coaches Byron MacDonald and Linda Kiefer and former UBC swimming coach Tom Johnson:
In track and field, the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships are underway in Dubai, and one of the U SPORTS figures competing there is Madie Wilson-Walker. Wilson-Walker had both her legs amputated below the knee when she was three, but has gone on to use running blades and shine in a multitude of sports. She has competed for the Western Mustangs at the U SPORTS level, and she advanced to the long jump F62 final this week:
In sadder news, famed Victoria Vikes and Canadian national team men’s basketball player Eli Pasquale passed away this week at 59. Sportsnet’s Michael Grange has a thoughtful tribute to him here. Many tributes to Pasquale also poured in on social media.
Today also marks Remembrance Day. There have been a lot of U SPORTS figures who have served in the Canadian Forces, both those from RMC and elsewhere, but one of the most significant for Canadian university sports is Major William John “Danny” McLeod. McLeod became RMC’s first athletic director in 1960 and was a key figure behind the creation of the modern CIAU (a U SPORTS predecessor) in 1961, serving as the national organization’s secretary-treasurer until his retirement from RMC in 1971. McLeod passed away in 2014, but his memory lives on. One of the more interesting tweets about him comes from Army hockey broadcaster Nikolai Busko last year ahead of the annual RMC-Army game:
That video clip, excerpts from a RMC Heritage Interview with McLeod from the Kingston branch of the RMC Club of Canada, can be watched in full here:
U SPORTS remembers McLeod, and all of those who have served.
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