CORRECTION: In the issue 1 story: “2021-2022 Tigers Fall Preview,” the Gazette stated women’s soccer players Olivia MacIntyre, Breagh Bates, Haley Birrell and men’s player Ben Grondin will be playing for Dal in 2021. These players will not play for Dal, as they have graduated. The online version of the story has been corrected and we apologize for the error.
For the first time in 18 months, the Dalhousie University Tigers will play meaningful games.
There’s been a lot to digest since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. We last saw the Tigers in the U SPORTS final eight men’s basketball championship against the Carleton University Ravens on March 8, 2020. The resulting silver medal was the team’s highest-ever finish. The women’s volleyball Tigers were scheduled to play in the U SPORTS championship the weekend of March 13, before U SPORTS cancelled the tournament the day prior.
Dal’s basketball, hockey, soccer, volleyball and swimming teams took part in limited exhibition action last school year, but it wasn’t the same as the anticipated return to the regular season.
At the time of this writing, it’s unclear whether spectators will be allowed back in most games, but here are some varsity teams’ first appearances at home in 2021-22. Teams beginning seasons later on, like swimming, basketball and volleyball, will be previewed in the near future.
Women’s soccer: Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. versus University of New Brunswick (UNB) Varsity Reds
The Tigers have been hungry to exact revenge on the University of New Brunswick, who knocked them out of the AUS quarterfinals in 2019. Guess who’s in town for the first game of the season?
The Tigers will be testing out a change of the guard compared to 2019, Dal strikers Zoe Brown and Riley Donovan will be leaned on to keep the offence rolling, now that some older players have moved on. There will be lots of new faces playing fullback, as everyone at the position will make their Tigers debut this season. Among them are transfers Holly Buckler (from Acadia University) and Alexandra Doane (from Queen’s University), who will be looked upon as leaders on the defensive line.
According to the Gazette’s analysis, Annabel Gravely should be the frontrunner to start between the sticks, only allowing two goals in six 2019 regular season games.
Men’s soccer: Sept. 11, 3:15 p.m. versus UNB
Later that afternoon, the men’s squad gets a crack at the Reds.
The men too fell in the 2019 quarterfinals, but in a nail-biter against cross-town rivals the Saint Mary’s University Huskies. Important returnees upfront include strikers Enrico Rodriguez and Gracious Kasheke, alongside midfielder Adam Murphy who started every game in his rookie season.
Emilio Roche and Callum Legge should eat most of the minutes on defence. With veteran keeper Ben Grondin graduated, the battle for starts in net should be interesting. Rookies Aiden Rushenas, Connor Aalders and Ahmed Haroun will compete for that duty this year.
Cross-country: Sept. 18, 12 p.m. (women), 1 p.m. (men) at Antigonish, N.S.
This isn’t a home event for the Tigers and they won’t have one this season, per the current schedule.
The St. Francis-Xavier (StFx) X-Men and X-Women will host the season’s first meet. For intrigue, the men have won two of the last three AUS titles, with StFX winning every other one since 2011.
Dal’s team, led by Jonathan Goodridge, Hudson Grimshaw-Surette and Nick Robertson, will be neck and neck with the meet hosts again this year.
On the women’s side, Dal is the team to beat, having won every championship since 2013. With the X-Women looking to break Dal’s streak starting at home, look for Lauren Lowther and Renata Kingston to lead the way this year for the Tigers.
Women’s hockey: Oct. 6, 7 p.m. versus StFX
Dal faces a tall task on AUS hockey’s opening night, with the defending conference champion X-Women coming to the Halifax Forum.
Two off-seasons of recruits will finally debut in regular season action, although some played in a thrilling five-game exhibition series last spring against the highly-ranked SMU. Kennedy Whelan is back after leading Dal’s scoring in 2019-20 and their youthful defence corps will feature Taylor Carr-Babineau and Alexandra McArthur.
After strong performances in the SMU games, Taylor Beam should be ready to take on more responsibility in net this year.
Men’s hockey: Oct. 9, 7 p.m. versus SMU
The Tigers begin their home schedule with the Battle of Halifax, having not faced SMU since February 2020.
The men too have a young team, recruiting several rookies in both the summers of 2020 and 2021.
Campbell Pickard should get big minutes after tying for second in team scoring in 2019-20, with Chandler Yakimowicz and Brett Crossley taking on greater leadership roles.
Aiden Jamieson and Jack Hanley are names to watch on the blueline, while Connor Hicks and Reilly Pickard are likely to split starts in net as they have the last two regular seasons.