Finally! After 555 days without extracurricular school sport, ever since the March 12, 2020 Boot Games versus Oak Bay, the 2021-22 season opened on multiple fronts.
Without question, the pure results were almost immaterial. After 18 months of COVID-19 interruption, the sheer joy of actual competition in person against other schools was palpable!
And be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for more photos!
Volleyball was first to get underway, with the Senior Girls taking part in exhibition play at Brentwood College. The team made a strong start, winning two of three matches. Grade 10 setter Ava Gillespie performed impressively, while returnees Makena Anderson, Sophie Olcen and Alienor de Nanteuil were also prominent. Likewise, Dalia Rahim made a strong debut.
Then, at an invitational held in Nanaimo, SMUS won five of its six matches over Belmont, Ballenas, Dover Bay, Carihi and Kwalikum, but losing narrowly to John Barsby. Libero Delaney Arkell made numerous important contributions, with Anna Fowler solid in her setter role.
The Senior Boys, at the Camosun College Invitational event, recorded fine victories versus AAA leaders Royal Bay and Oak Bay before then dropping to Stelly’s, Vic High and Lambrick Park. While a semi-final against eventual winner Walnut Grove proved a bridge too far, the overall effort bodes well for the remainder of the season. Libero Nathan Chiao, power hitters Will Liu and LeRoy Wang, in addition to setter Ryan Cheng, led the way.
Cross Country enjoyed its first race of the season at Lambrick Park, with pride of place going to Nella Meinecke. The Grade 10 student won her division, pulling away at the halfway mark and then holding off some fast-closing threats in the late going.
Unfortunately, the Grade 10 boys race became more of a training run, after officials sent most of the field in the wrong direction. As such, any results were inaccurate to say the least, though Alex Hann competed strongly. At the Senior level, both Grade 11 student Bryson Henry and Grade 12 student Kate LeRoy turned in excellent first efforts.
To cap the week, alum Nick Herrmann ’21 was in action for UBC Okanagan, giving a stellar performance in the UVic Vikes 6km Invitational meet.
At the Middle School level, in a cross country race held at Cedar Hill Park, Grade 7 student Josh H. and Grade 8 student Manon D. led a whole raft of SMUS runners.
The Girls Development squad enjoyed several runouts at the Friendship Cup in the Cowichan Valley, saving its best performance for the last game against Shawnigan Lake. Goals by Yukina Hashimoto, Ana Sofi Avalos Roa and Luciana Lozada Hernandez paced the offence, while Alana Norie and Alex Spentzos shared a shutout.
The Senior Girls also took part in the same tournament, making light of a driving rainstorm on Day 1 to draw 0-0 versus GNS and defeat Lambrick Park 4-2. A sluggish start the next morning saw the team surrender a late goal to Brentwood, but the players regrouped for a rematch versus Glenlyon Norfolk, this time victorious 2-0. Wynn Brown, Eva Cuddihy and Kendyll Adams scored key goals, while Talia Pike made a very encouraging start to her goalkeeping career.
The AA Island division this year looks deep and well-balanced, with no easy games. Therefore, the skills displayed by SMUS in a subsequent high tempo 1-1 league opening draw with AAA powerhouse Oak Bay were most encouraging.
The Grade 9 Boys team travelled to Brentwood for a 13 aside Jamboree. Both games, one versus the hosts, the other against Shawnigan Lake, were highly entertaining affairs, with all the players gaining valuable experience. Will Porter ran strongly and scored several good tries, while Peter Wang and Markus Djurickovic also showed well. Next up is the SMUS-hosted ISA 7s event.
At the Middle School, a developmental touch rugby competition got underway with games versus Lansdowne. More than 50 SMUS athletes came out to play, and for many of them it was their first time experiencing the game. The students played extremely well in their first outing, with many of them scoring during the Jamboree games. The A squad is now set for its first action this week versus Brentwood, Shawnigan Lake and Queen Margaret’s.
Soccer also returned to action, with the Junior Boys falling 4-2 to Reynolds in a very entertaining pre-season contest. Both newcomer Camilo Libreros Rios and captain Nick Gordon were in fine form.
The Senior Boys squad fell victim to the injury bug and struggled through a very demanding week. Yet, while only managing one victory against five defeats, there was enough positive play to suggest that, with several key players returning to full health, brighter times are around the corner. Cole Pontefract registered several goals, with Matthew Bennett strong in defence. Campbell Wilson and Richard Mwanzia battled bravely in difficult circumstances.
At the Middle School, soccer continues to grow in popularity with more than 90 students attending training sessions each week.