Athletics Review: November 14, 2011

Senior Girls Volleyball
The Senior girls volleyball team, having gone to extra points in a three-game qualifier vs St. Margaret’s, used this momentum to perform strongly on November 10 in the Vic Lindal Cup.

In semifinal action, sound positional play and a well-executed game plan resulted in 25-21 and 25-13 wins over GNS. Amy Bodine and Shayla Baulmer served strongly in a dominant performance.

These wins placed the team in the city final against Lambrick Park, the #4 ranked AA team in the province. A strong start gave SMUS to an early 9-5 lead, but inconsistent serve reception proved to be an issue. The team lost two both sets, 25-18 and 25-13. Sophia Ducharme and Abbey Piazza played particularly well throughout, showing great leadership skills.

Overall, the team has shown considerable growth as well as notable development in mental, technical and tactical skills. After being runners-up in the city championships, SMUS now moves on to the Island tournament in Nanaimo as the #4 seed.

Grade 9 Rugby
The Grade 9 rugby team completed its fall 15s season with a 38-17 win over Shawnigan. In what was a markedly improved performance from just ten days ago, the team scored six tries and produced a much better defensive effort as well.

Centres Max Pollen and Mitch Newman combined for five scores, running hard and straight to benefit from quick balls supplied by the forwards as well as useful setup work by halfbacks Carson Smith and Graeme Hyde-Lay. The latter, in addition to four well-struck conversions, also supplied several effective grubber and diagonal kicks to counter the flatline Shawnigan defence.

In the forwards, the introduction of Douglas Peerless and James Hayashi provided a much needed abrasive edge. The pair, along with flanker Emiliano Sedano, threw themselves into rucks and at opposition runners with reckless abandon.

Captain Dante Morandin and loosehead prop Noah Pryce-Baff were also prominent with a series of powerful runs.

Credit to Shawnigan, led by captain George Barton, for battling back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to score three tries (to two) after the break.

All the players from both sides, in addition to another fifty from St. Georges and Brentwood, will end the fall rugby campaign on November 15, when SMUS hosts an Invitational 7s competition. The event will begin at noon.

Senior Boys Soccer
Hard on the heels of the Junior boys soccer Island Championships success, SMUS hosted the Senior version of the event, with eight teams staging a highly competitive and throughly entertaining event on November 8 and 9.

When the smoke had cleared, SMUS could be justifiably pleased with a silver medal finish and qualification for the BC AA Tournament later this month. Indeed, the progress shown by the team in the past six weeks has been quite remarkable.

The tournament had more ups and downs than a game of Snakes and Ladders. In its pool opener, SMUS, with goals by striker Rory Brodhurst in the 30th and 33rd minutes, took a deserved 2-0 vs Highland, the North #2 representative. Given multiple reprieves, Highland duly clawed its way back into the game. A concentration of play in the SMUS end of the field resulted in two equalizing opposition goals. SMUS had additional glorious chances to win the game outright, but it was not to be. 2-2! Almost inevitably, Highland then won the ensuing PK shootout, which would factor in if the two teams ended pool play level on points.

With a draw that felt like a loss, SMUS then shaped up to meet top-seeded Lambrick Park. The Lions, unbeaten entering the tournament, and already having qualified for the Colonist Cup, had edged Courtenay’s Mark Isfeld 3-2 in their opening game.

With backs to the wall, SMUS produced its best performance of the season. A scoreless first half was only the prelude to the frantic 35 minutes that followed. First, in the 42nd minute, Brodhurst put the hosts in the lead, and, when Sergio Pike added a penalty goal shortly thereafter, an upset loomed on the cards.

The SMUS tactic of long through balls was proving successful, and when Michael Baart then finished superbly in the 58th minute, a dream win seemed not only possible, but likely. Yet, Lambrick Park was far from finished, and with SMUS only looking to hang on until the final whistle, answered twice in rapid succession. Yet, there was to be joy for the home supporters, as Brodhurst took his personal tournament tally to four with one final flourish as the clock ticked down to zero. 4-2, and BC qualification in sight.

Of course, the team would never think of doing things the easy way, and faced Mark Isfeld to conclude pool play. Without Brodhurst, SMUS was forced to rejig its lineup and compounded its problems by giving away a soft goal in the second minute.

With Highland already on five tournament points by virtue of its own 3-2 upset of Lambrick Park that morning, SMUS had to beat Isfeld to reach the tournament final. Mauricio Montiel somehow squeaked in a sharp angled free kick to equalize 1-1, before Totz, who froze the goalie completely when mistiming a shot from in close, made it 2-1.

Yet, some adventurous SMUS defence kept allowing Isfeld scoring chances, and, with nothing to lose, the Ice pressed forward at every opportunity. Finally, a scramble in the box produced an opening, and the game was level at 2-2.

A SMUS loss would have ended the season, and the tension was palpable as the game moved into the final minutes. This time, Lady Luck smiled upon the hosts. With the Isfeld goalkeeper caught out of position, a loose ball found its way to Totz. From some 20 meters, his high curling shot found the top corner of the net, as SMUS advanced 3-2.

This win put SMUS in the Island final vs GNS, with both guaranteed a place in the BC AA Tournament. A bright start saw the GNS goalkeeper tested early, but a nightmare patch then saw the hosts concede three times in the space of five minutes. Nonetheless, SMUS battled back and was rewarded in the 17th minute when Pike converted from the penalty spot. There were other chances, but when GNS scored again on 40 minutes, the dye was cast. Mark Kiggundu did pull one back to make the game 4-2, but when Totz’s wicked volley only skimmed the cross bar in the 66th minute, it was all over.

Congratulations to GNS, who, on the day, was the better side. Cole Tamburri was a welcome sight back in goal for SMUS, finally recovered from a hand injury. In what was a fine overall team effort, captain Joe Erlic worked doggedly in central defence and led by example throughout.

The squad now looks ahead to the BC AA Tournament, to be held November 24-26 in Burnaby.


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