Athletics Review: November 12, 2008

Senior Girls Volleyball
Last week was the Lower Island Championships and the Vic Lindal Cup tournament for the Senior girls volleyball team. Going in as the number one seed, the team started strong on Tuesday with wins against PCS and Brodeur. Against St. Andrew’s, the SMUS girls and lost in three games.

On Thursday, the team easily beat St. Margarets with excellent teamwork and great setting by Marlise Nussbaumer. Although the team placed second in the championships, they still had the opportunity to compete for the Vic Lindal Cup – a title they were defending from last year. The second place position required them to cross over with the first place seed in the other pool and the friendly team rivals, GNS. As usual, the team took GNS to three sets and this time SMUS won. They proceeded to the final where they would meet Lambrick Park.

Unfortunately Lambrick’s offense was fast and hard and SMUS could not easily defend it. The team lost in two sets, but they played fantastically! It was a full team effort and everyone is very excited about hosting Islands this weekend!

Junior Girls Volleyball
After a very successful season, going into city championships tied for fourth place, the Junior Girls “A” volleyball team unfortunately got knocked out of the city tournament after a loss to Lambrick Park. In their first match of the tournament, the girls split with Reynolds, with whom they had been tied, and won the match on total points.

After a loss against top-seeded Belmont, the girls went into their match against Lambrick without their usual focus and energy. In spite of some surges, and fantastic performances from Martika Rodgers, Michelle Yim, Nicole Bunyan and Musu Ofosu, the girls came up short against Lambrick. It was a disappointing finish for an otherwise excellent season.

Team leaders Tanya Rossa and Annie Pike did their utmost throughout the season, and all girls on the team have made outstanding individual improvements. They unfailingly demonstrated teamwork and character, and are to be congratulated for their strong commitment.

Senior Boys Soccer
After finishing third in the city, the Senior Boys soccer team began the Island Championship tournament in a difficult pool with Shawnigan, Reynolds, and Brentwood College. The top three teams from the tournament would earn berths to the Provincial Championships in Burnaby, and the team knew that the round-robin play would be a great challenge.

In the first game against Shawnigan, the Blue Jags found themselves down by 2-0 after just fifteen minutes of soccer in abysmal weather conditions. After twenty minutes of play, the team finally switched things on. The passing was phenomenal and they moved the ball with true class and comfort. Unfortunately, the passing did not result in goals, as the team failed to find the back of the net at the half. The second half would be much of the same – with SMUS keeping great possession, but unable to find the net. The match ended 2-0 in favour of Shawnigan, and the SMUS team knew that it would be an uphill battle to qualify after this.

Against Reynolds – a team to which they lost narrowly in the final minutes during league play -the boys were not about to make the same mistake. They came out flying, and Beau Parker caused the Reynolds back line considerable problems down the right flank.

Unfortunately, the team was still unable to find success in front of the goal. Despite a great attacking performance from SMUS, Reynolds got on the score sheet in the dying minutes of the half. The second half showed a SMUS team with determination to win. Early in the half, a through ball to Jamie Yorath resulted in his shot coming off the post, only to be handled neatly by Kevin Kim as he put it in the back of the net – SMUS scored their first goal of the tournament.

The boys were unable to find net again, and the match ended in a draw. The game would end this way, but a shoot-out was to take place in case the teams were tied after round robin play. After seven shooters, and another clutch goal from Kevin Kim, goalkeeper Olev Anniko would be the hero with two saves to win the shootout.

With one loss and one draw, the team’s provincial chances were looking grim. The following morning, they would need to beat Brentwood, and hope for Shawnigan to get a result against Reynolds. All the boys could focus on was their job – they needed to perform in their match, and simply have belief that the rest would fall into place – and it did. The team beat Brentwood 1-0 after a corner kick header from Tom Bridger, and Shawnigan upset Reynolds 2-1 in the dying minutes. With that, and thanks to their penalty victory over Reynolds, the team would play in the third place match at 4:30 against Gulf Islands.

For the first time since the beginning of the tournament, the Blue Jags were in control of their own fate. If they won their match, they would be off to the Provincial Championships on the 17th. The boys knew what was at stake, and came out with a performance to match.

Beau Parker started the game flying, creating several chances down the right side. Charles Southwell and Tycho Mommsen-Smith were dangerous running forward with the ball, and created several chances on the Gulf Island goal. From the back, Luke McCloskey and Tom Bridger held the line and made it clear to the opponents that they were not getting through. Mid-way through the half, a Mommsen-Smith through ball landed on Parker’s foot, and he sped past the defenders to finish on goal. In the second half, SMUS looked comfortable in possession, with Jamie Yorath creating a number of chances on goal – hitting the woodwork on more than one occasion.

The team’s misfortune in front of goal was not of concern. They couldn’t get scored on so long as they had the ball and Parker’s first half goal was enough to secure the victory. With their Island finish, the SMUS Blue Jags will be back on the provincial stage.

Grade 8 Rugby
Grade 8 rugby rounded out their fall season last Thursday by hosting a return match against Brentwood College. The first time these two teams met a few weeks ago, there was little separating them at the final whistle and so it was expected that this would be another close affair and plenty of rain coming down meant challenging handling conditions.

The SMUS side began inauspiciously with a knock on at the kick off to put themselves immediately on the defence. Through some sound tackling, they got themselves out of the danger zone, and a stolen ball got them into attacking position. With some slick passing, a SMUS try was scored.

Another knocked on kick off reception and a further dropped ball close to the goal-line put them back on their heels, however, ultimately resulting in a Brentwood score. Some good interplay by backs and forwards in the latter part of the second half resulted in a second SMUS try to put them 10-7 up at the break. The word at halftime was to be sure in handling the ball, to be sure in the tackle, and to put the ball by foot into Brentwood’s half where the ball was then to be spread across the field.

The team put this plan right into action and it resulted in another try. Brentwood also scored another converted try, with the score 15-14 in SMUS favour with 15 minutes to play. Continuing to stick to the gameplan was key, with flyhalf Dave Pollen, inside centre Adrian Sanchez and fullback Dawit Workie all on occasions putting their boot to the ball to gain valuable territory.

Some strong running by number eight Marcus Lelewski, ably backed up by hooker Keenan Manhas and flyhalf Dave Pollen, led to a sweeping SMUS try under the posts which was converted by Adrian Sanchez. Brentwood ably fought back and despite some resolute tackling, they scored in the last play of the game, but SMUS successfully hung on for a well-deserved 22-19 win.

The Grade 8 players clearly showed how far they had progressed during the season, with their best performance to date. Top performers on the day were hooker Keenan Manhas who again played with great courage, prop/lock Alex Campbell who toiled hard in the tight, and number eight Marcus Lelewski who made contributions both with ball-in-hand and pleasingly on defence, scrumhalf Sam Reid who dealt with the slippery ball well. New flyhalf Dave Pollen made a number of telling breaks and also kicked well, inside centre Adrian Sanchez ran hard and tackled solidly, outside centre Colton Stockus chased all the kicks, and fullback Dawit Workie was always difficult to bring down.

Grade 8 rugby will be back into practice in late winter prior to action in local Victoria area games in the spring.

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