There was a distinct playoff fever around campus this week, as multiple sports reached the zone championship level. With numerous fine performances, SMUS athletes and teams won three more Island titles and qualified for four B.C. championships.
The 1st XV team traveled to Brentwood College to play for the Island AA title, with the hosts providing the stiffest of challenges. In the end, SMUS captured the trophy by virtue of a 27-19 victory. Yet, the win was not secured until a very late, opportunistic try by Matt Hagkull and superb touchline conversion by captain Quinn Ngawati. Before that, Brentwood had roared back from being down 20-5 to cut the deficit to a single point.
Felix Butterfield, with a brace, and Sam Kahn scored the other Blue Jags tries, with Ngawati adding a further conversion and penalty goal. Flankers Simon Gilmour and Bryn Haydock also enjoyed excellent matches.
SMUS now moves on to the B.C. AA Tournament in Abbotsford, seeded No. 1 and facing a first quarterfinal match-up on May 31 against Nanaimo District Secondary.
In Middle School rugby, the boys’ season wrapped up with SMUS hosting the Lower Island 7-a-side jamborees for Grade 6, 7 and 8 students. SMUS had a team competing in each division: Grade 6/7 under 100 lbs, Grade 6/7 under 130 lbs and Grade 8 under 160 lbs.
The first of these was for the Grade 6/7 teams, with five visiting teams in the lighter division and 11 visiting teams in the heavier division. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, with the morning games being played in very wet and cool conditions. The rain eased off some in the afternoon but the ball and ground conditions were still slick.
Full credit is due to the two Grade 6/7 teams, as both exceeded expectations and produced their best performances of the season. The under 100 lbs team lost only one game and tied two others, ending up third overall. The under 130 lbs team won their morning games and their quarterfinal match, before going down by one try in their semi-final match to finish the day in fourth place. Both teams and all players showed much progress from the start of the season and promise for the future. While the entire team played well together this year, the play of Grade 6s Matthew B. and Raegan V., and Grade 7s Matthew B., Louis C., Owen V. and Calum W. deserves mention.
It was a much warmer and sunnier day for the Grade 8 jamboree two days later, with 12 visiting teams joining the SMUS side. The Grade 8 team began pool play with a solid win. They next faced a well-coached, skilled and physical Glanford side that ended in a tie. Another strong win rounded out the pool games, with them waiting for the result of Glanford’s last game to determine which team would move on to the top playoff group. Glanford managed to best SMUS in that regard, and the Blue Jags were pushed down to the next tier for their afternoon games. The team rebounded from their disappointment to comfortably win their last two games and end the tournament in fourth place.
Though disappointed with their placing, the team can feel proud of their efforts since beginning their 15-a-side season back in the fall, with half the team playing rugby for the first time and continuing that progress through the spring 7s season. Fernando A., Duke C., Diego G., Michael M. and Finn S. deserve mention, though it is the team effort and commitment that served them well and will continue to do so at the Senior School.
The tennis team entered Island play as the South champion, knowing they had never captured the Island title.
Nonetheless, thanks in large part to a wonderful comeback by Lucia Morales in her match, SMUS defeated Brentwood 7-4 in opening round action.
In the final versus Shawnigan Lake School, SMUS, behind strong singles play by Matthias Hoenisch and Stephanie Dunbar, led 4 matches to 2 early on. Yet, the final five sets were a topsy-turvy affair. Finally, the boys double of Ewan Halliday and Nirov Mehta clinched the crucial sixth point in an exciting 6-5 win.
With the Island trophy secure, the players now shift their focus to the 12-team B.C. Tournament, on now in Vancouver.
Track and Field
At the Island Track and Field meet held at Centennial Stadium, Angelina Shandro and Izzy Champion continued their superb form, combining for nine gold medals. Both girls accomplished this even as they moved up from the Grade 9 to Junior level in order to qualify for provincials.
Shandro won the 100m, 200m and 400m, as well as played her part in the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relay victories. Champion captured the 400m and 800m, as well as the two relay titles
Kenzi Farish also made the move to the Junior level, medalling in her three events by winning the triple jump, and finishing second in both the long and high jump. Senior Ryan Hindson took the triple jump and also reached the podium in long jump.
The best race of the entire competition took place in the Junior girls 4 x 400m relay, with the two SMUS teams separated by only 0.64 seconds. Shandro, Champion, Ella Chin and Cordel Tromp recorded 4:26.04, barely in front of the team of Farish, Suzie Stone, Aimee Look and Shalese Jordan. Not surprisingly, SMUS won the Junior girls section of the Island meet with an overall total of 144.5 points.
Finally, while Chrissa Tromp (1500m and 3000m) and Nathan Von Hagen (long jump and triple jump) were unfortunately injured for the Islands, both should qualify for provincials. A total of 15 SMUS athletes will contest the full B.C. meet June 1-3 in Langley, with Aidan Kerr, Gabriel Reis, Josh Benjamin and Denae Gendall joining those mentioned above.
The Senior girls, playing in Duncan, were part of a highly competitive Island tournament. Things got off to a less-than-ideal start, with SMUS dominating opening pool play versus Frances Kelsey but dropping a 1-0 decision after an opposition counterattack strike.
In the next game against Brooks Secondary, goals by Aysha Emmerson, Taylor Noel, Lizzie Watson, Maggie Manson-Blair and Elise Lincoln, backed up by an Anna Mollenhauer shutout, helped the Blue Jags secure a strong 5-0 win.
In a critical pool decider, a wonderful performance by Manson-Blair, underlined by two spectacular goals, took care of Mark Isfeld, with the 2-0 result moving the Blue Jags in to a bronze medal match against Brentwood. The winner would claim the final Island berth to the B.C. AA tournament.
As has often been the case in past seasons, this critical game, though controlled by SMUS through regular and extra time, ended up going to penalty kicks. However, the normal drama never eventuated, as Noel, Meggie Edwards and Chloe Fitzgibbon finished in clinical fashion, while Mollenhauer recorded three straight saves.
With the win, the Blue Jags move on to provincials June 1-3 in Nelson.
With a terrific turnout of more than 30 girls, the Middle School field hockey program got off to a great start in early April. With four coaches to guide the group, we were able to form two teams: one Grade 6/7 team and one Grade 8 team. There was movement between the teams, which offered a great experience for some of our younger players to play with the Grade 8 students.
Monday and Thursday practices saw anywhere from 12 to 14 teams converge at the UVic fields to play a round-robin jamboree format. The range in skill level varied from school to school and we witnessed tremendous growth from our SMUS girls over the course of the six-week league. Our hope is that many of our players will set their sights on one day competing for our Senior girls field hockey team.
Special thanks to all the players who demonstrated commitment throughout the season – it was wonderful to watch the skill development and cohesiveness as a group. Thanks also to the coaching staff for your time and expertise in working with this awesome group of young players.