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McGill Tribune / Sam Reynolds, Ryan Reisert
McGill Tribune / Sam Reynolds, Ryan Reisert

McGill Sports Previews

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Redmen Football

The Redmen football team has recently become a confounding disappointment for McGill Athletics and their fans. As a heavily bankrolled team, results akin to McGill’s hockey successes should rightfully be strived for and expected. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Both of the last two seasons have ended without a tally in the victory column. However, the recent showing of promise and offseason dedication by the squad leads to the belief that the overused expression “things will be better this year” might actually have substance this season.

McGill excitedly welcomes Clint Uttley to his first full season as head coach following the completion of his interim duties. His desire to increase practice drive and intensity can already be observed. Whether or not this will translate to on-field success remains a question, but the direction is undoubtedly encouraging. Stepping off the sidelines and onto the field, McGill must primarily battle the mental errors and egregious turnovers that have plagued them over the past few years. This will rest primarily in the hands of the starting quarterback, whose identity remains unclear. The opening day starter, untested second year Dallon Kuprowski showed promise, whilst substitute and former CIS Rookie of the Year Jonathon Collin struggled as he battles to complete a return from injury. Regardless of who ultimately gets the consistent nod, cool-headed leadership and reduced turnovers must become the top priorities.

The sole bright spot for the Redmen continues to rest in special teams as rookie kicker Sammy Rassy is as consistent as they come.

Unquestionably, McGill will not be a break-out threat this season. However, if solid growth as a unit and an improved mental game is witnessed, some greatly needed victories will come and help kick-start the sputtering program.

Marlet Soccer

The Martlet soccer team entered last season with high expectations, regarded as one of the best teams in the country. As the hosts of Nationals, they automatically qualified, and made it all the way to the CIS semifinal only to come up short in their final two matches. These setbacks left the squad with a hollow, fourth-place national finish. After such a disappointing result, the Martlets looked eager and more focused this summer. They played very well in early exhibition games and tournaments notably winning the annual Old Four Tournament in late August. Fourth-year midfielder Julia Bahen, likely the team’s most consistently strong player, will be called upon often to lead the squad. The finishing will be left to emerging third-year star forward Stephanie Avery, who has already had an impressive start to her campaign. Another potential offensive threat is McGill’s freshman midfielder Kristina Pearkes, who tallied two goals and an assist in a standout performance in an exhibition match against Windsor. She should lock down a starting spot and progress as the season develops. Barring the spot filled by Pearkes, most of the Martlets’ starting lineup returns, leaving them with an older and more experienced team. This camaraderie should translate into success. With this in mind, anything short of another CIS semifinal appearance will be viewed as a disappointment.

McGill Tribune / Sam Reynolds, Ryan Reisert
McGill Tribune / Sam Reynolds, Ryan Reisert

After an impressive fall 2011 regular season, the Redmen soccer team advanced to the RSEQ final, only to fall to University of Montreal. With this result, however, they still managed to qualify for nationals, eventually ending up fifth in the country. Once the season had passed, Head Coach David Simon stepped down from his position, leaving ex-Redmen goalkeeper Jose Valdes at the helm. Valdes looks to steer this team back to nationals, which may not be an easy task. Many of the leaders from last year’s squad have graduated, meaning that some of the returning players must step up. For starters, new team captain and fifth-year midfielder Jeremy Hurdle will be called upon on both ends of the pitch. Offensively, third-year forward Sebastian Munro, and exciting freshman Marc Palaci-Olgun will be relied upon as primary scorers, and should create chances frequently. The backend is led by dual-threat Alexis Pradle, who was arguably one of the team’s best defenders last season. He will lead the group in front of sophomore goalkeeper Charles Kelly. Kelly should benefit from last year’s CIS Championship experience and Valdes, being a former Redmen goalkeeper, will only help his development. The Redmen had decent exhibition results, but the RSEQ will be even more competitive. McGill lost to every division rival except Concordia at least once last season. This must change if they are to achieve RSEQ success.

Redmen Baseball

The McGill Redmen baseball team suffered from a national champions’ hangover last season, when they failed to return to the tournament. This year, however, the team appears re-energized following an offseason coaching change. Head Coach Ernie D’Alessandro stepped down from his position, ending his 16-year tenure with the Redmen. Leading the transition will be new bench boss Jason Starr. Starr, a former Redman himself, has been on the team’s coaching staff for the past seven seasons. He brings a new attitude to a Redmen team that looked complacent for much of last season. Training camp has been one of the most competitive in recent memory, and Starr is giving every player his chance to fight for playing time.

On the field, McGill welcomes eight new players to the roster, most notably, 2010 team MVP, Max Tierno, who missed the 2011 season on exchange. Aside from Tierno, look for veteran outfielders Chris Ames and Adam Gordon, as well as first baseman Casey Auerbach to lead the club throughout the year. The pitching staff is yet untested, and will likely determine how successful this Redmen edition becomes.

Looking forward, Carleton is hosting nationals this season, and thus receives an automatic berth in the tournament. This leaves only one qualifying spot in the Northern Division up for grabs. The Redmen’s toughest challenge for the berth will likely come from Concordia—the team that ended McGill’s 2011 campaign. However, the Redmen have had months to digest last season’s disappointment, and enter looking focused and hungry to return to their  championship form.

Photos by: Sam Reynolds and Ryan Reisert

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