The Fall sporting season came to an official close this week, with Senior boys soccer, fresh off an Island title, competing in Burnaby at the B.C. AA tournament.
As defending provincial champions, SMUS was very much under the microscope. Nonetheless, battling effectively through two straight days of cold weather and driving rain, the team produced four steady performances, winning all three of its pool matches before then scrambling through an extra time semi-final.
In pool play, the Blue Jags, thanks to solid goalkeeping by Adrian Hof and an air tight defence led by centre backs Matthias Hoenisch and Matt Hagkull, did not allow a single goal in wins over Charles Hays (2-0), Thomas Haney (3-0) and Hugh McRoberts (2-0).
This moved the team to a semifinal vs North Vancouver champion St. Thomas Aquinas. In treacherous conditions, both sides opted for a conservative approach, with scoring chances few and far between. After a scoreless draw in regulation, the match moved to extra time. In the first session, Ewan Halliday’s splendid corner to the near post was finished in style by Peter Koltronis to confirm a 1-0 victory.
The final saw SMUS matched against Langley Fundamental, a very skilled and dangerous squad which had been bronze medalists the year before. With the weather much improved, the Titans went on the offensive from the opening whistle, dominating possession and finding holes in the Blue Jags’ defensive screen. In a fifteen minute window, the first time finalists scored three times and then rode this comfortable advantage to the end.
SMUS battled hard, with Ephraim Hsu and Duc Khuong running themselves into the ground, gaining some reward when Hagkull slammed home a 35 metre free kick in the last minute. Yet the 3-1 final was a fair reflection on the game, as Langley richly deserved its first ever BC title.
Though the final performance may have been disappointing, overall the Blue Jags’ season was a real success. A relatively new and inexperienced squad showed great resilience in SMUS gaining the provincial final for the third time in the past four years. The group continued the school’s significant achievements of the past four years in soccer, basketball and rugby. Indeed, in the aforementioned sports, SMUS has reached ten BC finals (winning six) in the past thirteen opportunities. No other BC school, at any level, comes even close to this level of consistent performance.
On court, following a fine effort in the City AA Senior boys volleyball tournament, hopes were high that SMUS might catch fire in the Island qualifying event.
Playing in front of a packed house in the opening match, the Blue Jags opened impressively vs Lambrick Park, dispatching their cross town rivals 25-15 in the first set. A subsequent 24-22 lead looked safe before a string of unusual plays saw the second game end up in extra points, with the Lions prevailing 31-29. SMUS was then unable to reverse the momentum, falling 15-8 in the decider.
Though the team bounced back in a straight sets victory over Carihi, it could not upset north champion Gulf Islands. The 1-2 pool record placed SMUS into a much harder quarterfinal vs Mark Isfeld of Courtenay. Despite a tremendous effort from players such as Tristan Kuhn, Ty Olynyk, Kelvin Wong and Noah Helman, the Blue Jags fell just short, ending up in 5th place overall.
The Senior girls traveled to Campbell River for their Islands, in an event featuring multiple provincial powers. Against 8th ranked NDSS, SMUS, behind strong serving from Georgia Haydock, clawed its way back in the second set before falling 25-10, 25-19. Then, playing its best games of the season, the team, led by Taylor Noel and Sara Cui, stayed in touch for a long time before falling to BC #3 Carihi.
Jamie Bruynzeel and Maggie Helmke both performed impressively in the final two matches, though SMUS dropped tight matches to Alberni and then Vic High.
Finally, in Middle School basketball, the Grade 7-8 Girls team hosted Dunsmuir in a top table match. Makena Anderson led all scorers as the two teams entered the half knotted at 23.
Solid team defence, strong rebounding by Emma Curry and some key baskets by Eva Cuddihy saw the Blue Jags lead 32-26 early in the fourth quarter. However, the visitors finished on a 10-2 run to claim a narrow win.
Saturday, November 25 shapes up as a big day on the SMUS athletic calendar, as the hoop season kicks into gear in earnest with the alumni games. A full day begins at 10 a.m. with the Junior School players in action, and culminates with the Senior girls and Senior boys taking on the grads at 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.