Through late October and early November, some Dalhousie teams saw their teams’ seasons come to an end for another year. The Dal Gazette recaps how the playoffs went for the Tigers who are hanging up their jerseys for now.
Cross-Country by Josh Young, Sports Editor
Both Dalhousie cross-country teams finished the championship races with identical results after winning the AUS conference and then finishing 13th at nationals.
The AUS championship was held in Wolfville, N.S. on Oct. 28. The women’s team ran their 8 km race first. The Tigers’ first-year runner Savanna Jordan won the race, and teammate Michelle Reddy came second. Rounding out the top-ten finishers for Dal was Jenna MacDonald, who finished seventh, and Shaylynn Tell, who finished ninth.
Other finishers for Dal were Kate Scallion in 17th, Melanie McKenna in 20th and Sarah Kromberg in 24th. The women’s team captured their seventh AUS championship in eight years.
Lehman said Reddy was huge for Dal.
She suffered a stress fracture in her Navicular bone in her foot that required surgery. It caused Reddy to miss all of last season. Lehman said the retirement rate with that injury is high but Reddy came back and was crucial for their win.
“Without (Reddy) I don’t think we would win the women’s team title,” said Lehman. “For someone to comeback at such a young age from such a serious injury was super impressive.”
On the men’s side, former AUS Athlete of the Year Cal Dewolfe was Dal’s top finisher. He finished his 10 km run in third place. Dal runners Graeme Wach, Will Russell, Angus MacIntosh and James Cromack all finished from seventh to tenth place, in that order. Wach finished with a time of 33:11 and Cromack finished with a time of 33:33.
Two Dal runners finished outside the top ten: Callum Drever finished 13th and Mike Rogers finished 15th. There were 45 runners in total. The high placing for all members of the team resulted in the men’s team winning their first AUS championship since 2010.
“It was pretty exciting for them, other than Cal (Dewolfe) nobody on our team I think had won a conference championship as a team in cross country,” said Lehman.
The reason Dewolfe won a championship before is because he raced with St. Francis Xavier University for four years before transferring to Dal this year. He finishes his career-winning an AUS championship in every season.
Both teams moved on to the U Sports national championships in Victoria B.C. on Nov. 12.
The women’s team ran first. The results: Jordan 12th, Reddy 45th, Tell 75th, MacDonald 112th, Cormier 114th, and McKenna 123rd. There were 151 runners in total and Dal finished 13th.
“Thirteenth in the country is not what we were shooting for on either side,” said Lehman. “It’s status quo for the men and a step down for the women. We’ll be looking to be back in the top ten for both next year.”
The race wrapped up an impressive first season for Savanna Jordan. The first-year runner won the two AUS races she ran, and was seven seconds behind the tenth place runner at nationals. She was named AUS and U Sports rookie of the year, the AUS Athlete of the year, and was named a U Sports second team all Canadian. It will be exciting to see what she can do in the future.
From Jordan’s success before coming to Dal, Lehman knew he had a special runner.
“We knew we were getting a winner, we knew we were getting somebody who showed up on the day that mattered most.”
On the men’s side: Dewolfe finished 31st, Drever finished 78th, Russell finished 87th, Wach 89th, Cromack 104th, Macintosh 113th and Rogers 115th – out of 138 runners. The men’s team finished in the exact same spot the women’s team did, in 13th.
Lehman said the race was very tactical. He said their strategy was to hang back for the first bit of the race, let other runners burn out and then start to push.
However, it seemed like everyone else had the same idea because it was rainy, muddy, and the thirty-minute race didn’t really begin until the 15-minute mark. By that time most of the runners were still feeling strong and there wasn’t a lot of passing room, making it difficult for Dal to regain ground.
“At one point, Cal (Dewolfe) was in 38th and could probably touch the leader, it was that packed up” said Lehman, explaining how tight the race was at the start. “I don’t think our guys really knew what was happening. We were pretty far back in the pack which, that’s fine, but it’s really hard to drop the hammer and move up if everyone in the race is planning the same thing.”
The Tigers were happy with their AUS result and not thrilled with their U Sports one. Lehman thinks he may take the team to Ontario or Maine next year in order to be more familiar running in a race with a large amount of runners.
“We’re not devastated and there were lots of positives on the year, but I don’t think you will hear anybody say they were thrilled with the result nationally.”
Men’s Field Lacrosse- By Josh Young, Sports Editor
For the seventh straight season the Dalhousie Tigers men’s lacrosse team are Maritime University Field Lacrosse League champions.
The Tigers beat the Saint Mary’s Huskies 11-5 on Nov. 4 to continue the championship streak. They went undefeated this year, continuing the program’s unbeaten streak dating back to the 2013 season.
“It means a lot,” said team President and senior midfielder, Brett McGuire about continuing the championship streak. “It was something that was built by everybody who came before us … it’s kind of what we aspire to and what we expect from ourselves and it is kind of nice to meet our expectations and continue that legacy forward.”
The game started well for the Tigers, courtesy of AJ MacLean-Howard. MacLean-Howard had the ball up high and fired it past Huskies’ goaltender Phil Mabley to open the scoring for Dal. A few minutes later, he ran past Huskie Bret Himmelman and shot the ball off the right post and in.
Dal dominated the first half until they got into some penalty trouble late in the half, but Dal’s defense held their ground and prevented SMU from getting many good scoring chances, especially when their goalie had to be replaced for a minute due to a penalty.
In the second quarter, Matt Brenzel scored to stretch Dal’s lead to 3-0. Then McGuire scored two goals to give Dal a 5-0 lead at the end of the first half.
Dal kept on rolling to start the third quarter. McGuire had the ball at the side of the net and shot the ball past Mabley for the goal. He scored again a few minutes later as well. Thomas Sangster also scored to stretch their lead to 8-0.
Saint Mary’s didn’t go away.
After Dal turned over the ball in their defensive zone, Saint Mary’s got possession and SMU attackmen Hunter Thompson scored. That was his first of his four goals in that half; Phil Elford had the other goal for Saint Mary’s.
Dalhousie kept scoring, too. Liam MacIntosh passed the ball across the net to McGuire, and he fired it in for his fifth goal of the game. Cody Carta-Bomersine scored Dal’s final two goals giving them an 11-5 win over Saint Mary’s.
When the clock hit zero, all of the Tigers rushed on to the field to celebrate.
Senior defender Hayden Nix says it is the coaches that are the reason behind Dal’s continuous success. For this particular team, he said it was the depth on offense and defense that allowed them to be a championship team and win this game.
“Our offense was a bit slow going so I thought our defense played strong in the first half and gave the offense time to adjust,” said Nix. “Then the defense started to slip up and the offense compensated, it was just a team effort.”
McGuire was huge for Dal in this game, scoring five goals in his final game to propel Dal to victory and being named the game’s offensive MVP.
“I wanted to win real bad so I just wanted to make sure I put my team in a position to be successful and today, it meant putting the ball in the net,” said McGuire. “I’m just proud I could do it for the boys.”
This success wasn’t a sure thing early in the season for Dal. They had more new players than returning ones, and an entirely new group of attackmen.
Dal’s Head Coach Connor Dubreuil, explained that the factors that lead to the young players learning quickly is they trusted the coaching staff, the seniors, had had a willingness to learn, and were willing to play as a team.
McGuire said he would never forget his time as a member of Dal’s lacrosse team. He is proud that he was able to finish his career as a champion.
“I love this team, I love these guys, I love this school and I’m just proud I could keep the success train going in my last year.”
Dalhousie Football Club– By Ellery Platts
Dalhousie’s Football Club lost the Atlantic Football League (AFL) Championship game 39-35 against the University of New Brunswick Fredericton (UNBF) Red Bombers on Saturday, Nov. 4.
The team is expecting a winning future after making it to the championship game – despite having the largest number of recruits in the team’s history. Out of 60 players, the team has 32 rookies. Head Coach Mark Haggett says that he sees this loss as beneficial for the team.
“For them to have this experience in the championship game, it makes this whole program hungrier for a win next season,” Haggett says in response to their loss.
He believes that the Tigers aren’t just a football team, but a program that will keep working towards an anticipated championship win next season.
The young team scored five touchdowns during the championship: two by rookies Chris Duplisea and Ian Oyler, and two by graduates Alistair Chauhan and Zack Leger. The fifth was made by second-year Gordon Brown.
Leger and Brown scored the first two touchdowns in the first five minutes of play, giving the Tigers control over the game. They continued to lead the Red Bombers 35-25 going into the last minute of play, when UNBF scored a touchdown and two-point conversion.
In the last 19 seconds of play, UNBF scored another touchdown giving them a four-point lead. The Tigers couldn’t come back and UNBF won the championship.
Three-time AFL all-star Zack Leger says that his three years being a Tiger were some of the best years of his life, and he wouldn’t have changed anything.
“I think that Dalhousie Tigers Football is a great leadership development program,” said Leger post game. “I think we’re in a great position to have success in the future.”
The team overcame adversity early with their two wins and four losses going into playoffs after going 8-0 last season. Haggett believes the team came together and peaked at just the right moment, getting a big win in the semi-finals against Holland College. Dal went into half time down 11-0, turning it around and winning the game 21-18.
“With a group of young guys, it’s an art form within itself for everybody to come together as a team, and I am proud as a coach that by the end of the season we were able to accomplish that,” says Haggett.
Haggett believes the Dal football team has a bright future and he predicts an undefeated season next year.
Women’s Soccer- By Cam Honey
Playing in their quarterfinal matchup of the AUS Championships, the Tigers fell 3-2 to the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds on penalty kicks.
It was a disappointing conclusion for the third-seeded Tigers, who were favoured on paper to advance to the semifinals.
Twice, the Tigers found themselves trailing, and twice, they battled back.
“We had a slow start and a strong finish,” said Tigers Head Coach Cindy Tye. “Unfortunately it went into penalty shots and you just never know how that’s going to end but I think overall it was a good performance by the kids.”
It was a mix of seniors and first-years that came through on the score-sheet for the Tigers in regulation, with captain Amanda Bowles and first-year Alyssa Hartlen finding the net.
Jelisa Joncas and Mj Miller tallied goals for the Varsity Reds.
The game started poorly for the Tigers. They conceded the opening goal of the match just 1:40 into play. Emily Burton, from her own side of half, sent a long ball up pitch with perfect touch for Joncas. She picked it up 25-yards out and cut to her right before curling a beautiful strike just inside the near post from 16-yards.
“I don’t think it shook them too much,” said Tye about her team conceding the early goal. “I think they felt good about where they were at in terms of their preparation. They knew they had a long way to go, there was enough [time left] to play and they responded very well.”
Bowles responded for the Tigers in the early 29th minute. Off a left-side corner, Rachelle Lalande bent a ball on goal. Varsity Reds keeper Rebecca Duda made the initial save and Bowles tracked the rebound and drove it home with a header.
Miller made it 2-1 Varsity Reds in the 66th minute. Tigers’ keeper Kate Fines made a diving one-handed punch-save on Miller from the penalty-spot but Miller was able to get to the rebound first and knock it in.
With their season on the line, the Tigers pushed for the equalizer in the 78th minute.
Maya Venkataraman won a free-kick 13-yards out and about five-yards in from the right sideline. Megan McKenna stepped up to take it and sent a ball onto the foot of Hartlen on the right side of the six yard-box. Hartlen turned and drove a low strike inside the near post.
After 30-minutes of extra-time had solved nothing, the game went to penalties.
Bowles, Fines, and Stephanie Dyck scored on their tries but McKenna, who was shooting second, saw her attempt saved by Duda.
All five Axewomen shooters made good on their shots for the win.
“It’s tough,” said Tye about losing on penalties. “It’s tough to do that. You practice and you go through the lineup and things like that but you just never know what’s going to happen throughout the game and in people’s minds. It’s just a really hard way to end.”
The game was played in Antigonish N.S. on Thursday, Nov. 2. The Varsity Reds went on to lose to the eventual champion Cape Breton Capers in the semi-finals.
Coming into the year the Tigers were viewed as being in the second year of a rebuild under coach Tye.
This year, they were able to shoot up the standings. Going from squeaking into the playoffs as the sixth seed on the final day of the 2016 season, to finishing third in the 2017 table – just two-points back of second.
Asked about the progress made this year, coach Tye had this to say:
“I’m disappointed in terms of the result in the playoffs and of course the kids are too. I think we have to remind ourselves that last year they were more hopeful to be [in the playoffs] and this year they knew they belonged there.”
“In terms of the results and the records we were a lot closer to the top teams. We won more games and scored more goals so there was a lot of progress that way.”