As Halloween approaches, most of the SMUS fall sports teams are gearing up for playoffs at the local, Island and provincial levels.

Front and centre has been the performance of Senior girls field hockey. Still unbeaten in the local league circuit, the squad is in line this Wednesday to compete for the May Tully Shield, emblematic of City supremacy. More significant have been fine performances in invitational and post-season tournaments, beginning with the prestigious Bridgman Cup on Thanksgiving weekend. Two wins and a draw from five tough matches proved to be excellent preparation as SMUS then captured the Ridley College National Invitational in St. Catharines, Ontario. The players adapted well to grass fields and made light of some vicious hailstorms en route to six straight victories. Anna Mollenhauer notched eleven goals in the competition, with strong support from Charlotte Bussche, Angel Tsui and Alexa Matthews.

Back in Victoria, SMUS moved straight to the Island AA Finals this past weekend, again sweeping through the field to win the title for a fourth consecutive year. In front of a large crowd, and with the game streamed live on SMUSTube, the girls saved their best for last in a 6-0 victory over Brentwood College. A rock-solid defence left Mia Roberts with relatively little to do, as the goalie ran her shutout streak to twelve consecutive games. Seniors Chloe Keeler-Young, Aveen Glen, Meggie Edwards and Becca Thomson were all in fine form, with the scoring load shared through the team.

It is now with considerable anticipation that SMUS prepares to host the BC AA Tournament November 4-6. After an agonizing single goal provincial final defeat a year ago, hopefully this time around the team can successfully negotiate the last step.

In cross country, after a final league race at Beaver Lake, SMUS returned to the same venue on October 20 for the Lower Island Championships. On a glorious fall afternoon, Cordel Tromp had a solid showing, finishing 6th in the Junior girls competition. In the Senior boys event, Michael Wong-Harrison (3rd), Aubry Williams (5th), Santiago Mazoy (10th) and Sam Kahn (17th) combined beautifully to claim a silver medal, a result that bodes well for the full Island race at the same venue on Wednesday (Oct. 28).

The Senior boys soccer regular season has reached a critical stage, with all the top teams matched against one another. Unfortunately for SMUS, a disastrous eight-minute spell, early in the second half of an away game against GNS, saw the squad concede three goals in eight minutes in a 4-2 loss. However, in a home game versus fancied Reynolds, SMUS expanded a 1-0 halftime lead to record an invaluable 4-0 victory. Alec Keech, with a brace, Hari Ikonomou and Ben Wingert found the score sheet, while Gideon Vondran made the most of his first start in goal by registering a shutout.

The win vaulted SMUS back to second place, with home games still to play versus Royal Bay (Oct. 27) and top-of-the-table Oak Bay (Oct. 29). SMUS will then host the Island AA tournament November 9-10, compete in the Colonist Cup and then hopefully return to Burnaby November 23-25 to defend its provincial AA title.

At the Junior level, the “A” squad, behind Harry Shaw, Duc Khuong, Julius Krueger and Adrian Hof, wrapped up its league schedule with comfortable victories over Claremont and St. Andrew’s. Emilio Gonzalez-Luna celebrated his call-up from the development side with two goals, while Franklin Lu, also on debut, kept a clean sheet in net. City playoffs begin October 29, with Reynolds the most likely opponent.

Hats off to the aforementioned development team, who battled manfully all term against “A” division opponents. Lu, very busy in every match, made a whole series of sensational saves, while Andrei Mironov bagged some superb goals.

In volleyball, the Senior girls hosted a hugely successful Western Canada Independent Schools Invitational event, performing extremely well before raucous home support. In the end, though defeating pre-tourney favourite Rundle College of Calgary in pool play, SMUS fell at the quarter-final stage in three games to eventual winner Notre Dame (Saskatchewan). Silke Kuhn, excellent in all eight matches, was named to the All-Tournament Team.

In local matches, the Blue Jags moved to 1-1 in Tier 1 Vic Lindal Cup action last week, beating Spectrum before falling to Mount Douglas. Contests versus Oak Bay, Stelly’s and Belmont remain before the squad enters Lower Island and Island AA playdowns.

Also on the court, the Junior girls, in advance of their ISA tournament, moved to 7-1 in league play, thanks in part to the excellent work of setter Jamie Bruynzeel.

The Grade 9 rugby group, though falling short in an ISA 7s competition, now looks forward to home matches against St. George’s and Brentwood before wrapping up the season at Finals Day on November 17. Tristan Kuhn, Jin Woo Park and Lucas Bosley have led extremely well in every match.

In squash, 24 athletes took part in the B.C. Jester Junior Open in Vancouver earlier this month. SMUS took home two titles and enjoyed several other top results. Congratulations to the entire team, but particularly to Brooke Herring, who won the U17 girls’ event without dropping a game. In the boys’ U13 division, Christian Yuen emerged as the champion, while at girls’ U19 level, Grace Thomas fought back from a two-game deficit to level matters before then falling 12-10 in a entertaining finale.

Next up for the players is the Alberta Jesters tournament in mid-November. Live updates will be available on Twitter at @SMUSsquash

Finally, the fall rowing season saw the second of its three regattas take place October 17-18.

Franca Pilchner won gold in the women’s 1X, while the Junior men’s novice 4X (Thomas Dansereau, Matthew Jaffey, Nathan Yang, Liam Hodgins) and the Senior novice men’s 8+ (Dansereau, Jaffey, Yang, Hodgins, Damian Eiden, Edi Game, Bryce Nurding, Brennan Parson and cox Dalal Tubeishat) also topped the podium.

Some of the more experienced oarsmen took part in the Head and the Tail Gorge Regatta this past weekend (Oct. 24-25). On both days, the Junior men’s 4X and Junior women’s 4X crews raced superbly.

The final competition goes November 7-8 at Elk Lake, with schools vying for the City Championship.

Vivat!

(photos by Stephanie Anter, Dan Thomson and Darin Steinkey)

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