The fall sports season moved into its closing stages, with Senior girls field hockey taking centre stage, as SMUS hosted the BC AA tournament on the turf at the University of Victoria. Hopes were high that the players could go one better than a year ago and capture the elusive blue banner, emblematic of provincial supremacy.
Though managing only a scoreless draw against Seycove in opening day action, the team quickly recovered to drop LV Rogers 5-0 and York House 4-1 and top its pool. Next, SMUS clipped South Kamloops 3-0 in a quarterfinal match-up, so setting up the anticipated semifinal against Crofton House.
Unfortunately, for the third year in a row, Crofton House denied SMUS a possible provincial title, thanks to a 41st minute goal which stood up in a 1-0 win. The Blue Jags bounced back to claim bronze with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Seycove, with goals by Anna Mollenhauer and Charlotte Bussche. Both produced stellar performances, with Mia Roberts making a number of fine saves to record a shutout.
As has been the case the past four years, such tiny margins separated the gold, silver and bronze medalists. SMUS, with multiple returnees, will look to take the final step once again in 2016.
In cross country, the Senior boys, battling monsoon rains, knee-high puddles and a treacherously slippery track, put together a superb team effort (6th out of 28 schools) in the provincial meet at Jericho Park in Vancouver. This was the best SMUS result in more than two decades, as Michael Wong-Harrison, Aubry Williams, Lucas Simpson and Santiago Mazoy, supported by Sam Kahn, Avery Thorp and Ming Deng, made light of the conditions to finish as the top-ranked AA entrant! As a group, they celebrated a wonderful achievement by taking a dip in the ocean after the race.
On the girls side, the Tromp sisters, Cordel and Chrissa, also ran extremely well, finishing 39th and 41st respectively in fields of more than 230 competitors.
In rowing, at the November 7 and 8 City Championships, SMUS ended up 5th out of 17 schools after reaching eight finals in what turned out to be a high-quality regatta. Congratulations to Franca Pilchner, who won the Senior Advanced Women 1X, and also to the Junior Boys Novice 4X, with Liam Hodgins, Matthew Jaffey, Nathan Yang and Thomas Dansereau claiming gold.
As part of the Senior Mens 8+, Hodgins and Dansereau were again atop the podium, this time joined by Ben Parker, Edi Game, Damian Eiden, Zach Zwicky, Brennan Parson, Bryce Nurding and cox Dalal Tubeishat.
Other crews that medalled were the Senior Men Novice 8+, the Senior Women Novice 8+ and the Junior Women Novice 8+.
Check out more photos from the Rowing City Championships at the SMUS Photo Gallery.
In soccer, after some middling league performances, the Senior boys hosted the Island AA tournament. As defending champions, SMUS got off to the worst start possible, wasting multiple glorious scoring chances and then conceding a soft goal in an opening 1-0 defeat to North No. 4 Highland. Bouncing back with a 5-0 win versus Lambrick Park, the team then took on Gulf Islands, knowing that a loss would end any chance of reaching provincials. Happily, a first-minute goal by Ben Wingert settled nerves, and a late Santiago Mazoy header ensured a 3-1 win. Even better was the unexpected news that Lambrick Park had held Highland to a 1-1 draw. This result confirmed SMUS as pool winners and placed them in the final versus Kwalikum.
In this championship match, a perfect 9th minute cross was tapped home by Jamison Schulz-Franco, as SMUS took a 1-0 lead to intermission. In the second half, Wingert slotted home a rebound to make the game more secure, although a Blue Jags turnover shortly thereafter gifted the Condors their only goal. The hosts then had to absorb a pressure packed final few minutes, with Jasper Bosley making an excellent save, before Donovan Sturdy cleared off the goal line after a late scramble.
With the 2-1 victory, SMUS now moves on to the BC AA tournament November 23-25 in Burnaby. Before that, however, the team will enter local Colonist Cup playoffs, starting with a match-up this afternoon (Nov. 12) versus Royal Bay.
The Junior boys had a roller coaster end to their campaign, dropping a 1-0 heart-breaker to Reynolds in the City semifinal. Another one goal loss, this after surrendering a 2-0 advantage to Royal Bay, left Island qualification in doubt.
Happily, the team did receive an Island berth, even if the opening game produced a late 2-1 loss to North champion Carihi. Undeterred, SMUS rebounded to turn the tables versus Reynolds, with a satisfying 1-0 win leaving final pool order in doubt.
Needing a result over Mark Isfeld, hopefully with multiple goals to help in any tiebreaker, SMUS threw caution to the wind and attacked from the outset. Ty Olynyk, Adrian Hof and Finn Goodyear were all prominent. However, in the end, the Ice had the necessary defensive answers, advancing via a 2-1 margin. This left the Blue Jags consigned to a final consolation match-up versus Royal Bay.
In volleyball, the Senior girls head into the midterm break as South No. 1 seed for the upcoming Island AA Championship in Nanaimo. En route, the team defeated Glenlyon Norfolk, St. Margarets, Parkland and Pacific Christian. Strong front court play from Hayley Watson and a consistent defensive presence from Sasha Boehm proved crucial, with the leadership of seniors Silke Kuhn and Robyn Noel also vital.
At Junior level, after a fine team performance at the ISAs, SMUS continued its solid play to top its City pool with a 9-1 record. Then, at the Pacific Christian School Invitational, wins over Mount Douglas and Glenlyon Norfolk set up an exciting final with the hosts. After splitting 25-19 games, the Blue Jags, led by setter Jamie Bruynzeel and power hitter Lindsay Gage, captured a thrilling third game 16-14 to claim the title. Others who played well were Georgia Haydock, Zoe Lott, Elise Lincoln and Jessica Lineham.
SMUS now looks forward to what promises to be a highly competitive City tournament.
Finally, in Grade 9 rugby, SMUS dropped two very close but hugely entertaining and high-scoring affairs, first 42-38 to St. Georges and then 53-44 to Brentwood. Jin Woo Park, Tristan Kuhn, Lucas Bosley and Reven Liu have continued their consistent form. The season wraps up Nov. 17 with a match versus Mulgrave.
Looking ahead, the basketball season gets underway in just over a week with the long awaited match-ups between the Senior teams and the Alumni at the Alumni Basketball Celebration (Saturday, Nov. 21). The day will also feature an undercard of Junior and Middle School action, with a big reception to follow. At this latter event, look for the announcement of the SMUS Dream Teams, in addition to some other special presentations.
(photos by Stephanie Anter, Brady Doland and Kyle Slavin)