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Men’s Varsity

Tremblay scores twice in men’s hockey quarterfinal win

Hockey/Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Miya Keilin / The McGill Tribune)

On Feb. 16, the McGill men’s hockey team (17-11) defeated the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks (14-14) in an exciting 6-2 win to advance to the OUA semifinal round. In the rough-and-tumble affair, 12 players—including both teams’ goalies—received penalties.

McGill dominated the game from the start. Just 38 seconds into the opening frame, a clean snipe from third-year forward Samuel Tremblay gave McGill the lead. Tempers ran high, and the occasional post-whistle malice soon escalated into the Ridgebacks taking penalties for slashing, high sticking, and tripping. Although McGill failed to score on their first two power plays, they established a rhythm of solid passing and several close shots. On their third power play, however, the team broke through: Fourth-year forward Christophe Lalonde put the puck over the goal line, and, 31 seconds later, first-year forward Jordan Fournier scored to advance McGill 3-0.

Both McGill and UOIT got physical in the last three minutes of the period, pushing and shoving until second-year forward Keanu Yamamoto masterfully stickhandled through traffic to score yet again. The first period ended 4-0, with 12 shots from McGill compared to just two for the Ridgebacks.

According to Head Coach Kelly Nobes, the team focused on remaining consistent heading into the second period.

“We just talked about keeping the game plan the same as it was,” Nobes said. “We wanted to grind, we wanted to stick with it, and keep pucks going north.”

Throughout the period, McGill played keepaway, frustrating the Ridgebacks’ efforts at a comeback. The home side had promising chances on their single power play, breathing life into the period. However, they could not convert, and eventually gave up a power play goal with 1:22 left in the period.

Emotions ran highest in the final period, but McGill remained in control of the game. About halfway through the period, third-year transfer defenceman Maximilian Daigle increased the score to 5-1 McGill with a slapshot. Tremblay scored for the second time that night with a power play goal shortly after.

With just over five minutes remaining, a major netfront brawl disrupted McGill’s momentum. The scuffle sent two Ridgebacks and two McGill players to the penalty box for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. At this point, McGill eased their pressure and allowed a last-minute goal. However, the Ridgebacks had lost the competition far earlier in the game, and, when the buzzer sounded, McGill was victorious by a score of 6-2.

Going into the game, McGill was determined to win the series on Saturday and avoid a third, winner-take-all match.

“We were really ready in the room,” Tremblay said. “We wanted to finish [the series] right now and not play tomorrow, so it’s a little bit more rest for us [….] It was a good motivation to end this tonight.”

Fourth-year defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi, who celebrated his 25th birthday on game day, wants his team to play against their next opponent with the same intensity that fuelled their win against UOIT.

“We’ve got to keep up with the same energy [and] stick to the structure and I think things should go our way,” Talbot-Tassi said.

McGill will face Carleton in the OUA semifinals.

 

Moment of the Game

Third-year goalie Louis-Philip Guindon made a spectacular save on the penalty kill during the second period, rolling onto his back to stop the Ridgebacks.

Quotable

“I think the message was pretty clear in the room that we had to come out strong and impose our tempo, and I think that’s what we did.” –Dominic Talbot-Tassi on the impressive first period start.

Stat Corner

Four McGill players—third-year transfer defenceman Nikolas Brouillard, Tremblay, Yamamoto, and Fournier—recorded two or more points in the win.

McGill men’s hockey falls to Concordia in overtime

Hockey/Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Hana Shiraishi / The McGill Tribune)

On Jan. 11, an overtime thriller ended in dismay for the McGill faithful and their men’s hockey team (12-5-4). The Carnival hockey showcase against the cross-town rival Concordia Stingers (12-7-1) ended in a 5-4 loss after a wrap-around shot cemented the Stingers’ three-goal comeback.

This year’s Carnival game was the first in McGill history to sell out before the opening face-off. With 1,029 people in attendance, there was only standing room available for many of the boisterous fans.

Concordia struck first just one minute and 20 seconds into the game, but McGill was quick to respond: Second-year forward Keanu Yamamoto sniped a slap shot just 20 seconds later to tie the game at 1-1. McGill excelled in transition all night, as their next goal also came on a two-on-one. Fourth-year centre Jerome Verrier’s attempted cross found the back of the net when the Concordia goalie accidentally redirected the puck on goal.

McGill ended the period up 3-1 after third-year left wing Guillaume Gauthier came off the bench and immediately collected the puck to snipe a goal over the outstretched body of a Concordia defender.

McGill started the second period well; they controlled the puck and managed to limit much of the play to Concordia’s end of the rink. A sudden lapse in defence, however, allowed Concordia to tip in a goal off of a rebound to bring the game within one goal, 3-2.

Concordia seized the momentum, forcing third-year goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon to make a consecutive series of spectacular saves—38 in total—to maintain McGill’s narrow lead.

With four minutes left in the period, fourth-year centre Frederic Gamelin scored McGill’s final goal of the night despite being short-handed. However, a second penalty left McGill playing three-on-five, and Concordia took advantage to end the second period down 4-3.

The third period started with several shots on net for both teams, but neither goaltender would give way. With six minutes left to play, a skirmish at the Concordia net left the Stingers goalie winded and helmetless and the puck across the goal line—but the referees waved off the would-be McGill score. Only 10 seconds later, a rebounded slapshot by Concordia tied the game 4-4 and sent the match to a 3-on-3 overtime.

McGill started sudden-death play with two electrifying, breakaway opportunities, but neither shot succeeded. Controlling the puck, Concordia finished the game in heartbreaking fashion with a wrap-around effort, winning 5-4.

“I thought we played a pretty good game, but just a couple bad bounces and they got us at the end,” fourth-year defender Redgie Bois said. “It’s really painful to lose that one, especially in front of that crowd.”

Bois was very appreciative of the raucous fans, noting the encouragement that they provided.

“I was really fortunate to play that game,” he said.

Looking ahead, second-year forward Alex Renaud spoke to what it will take for McGill to win close matches.

“It’s hard to say what we need to do differently, but we just have to stick to our game [… because] we know what it takes to win,” Renaud said. “Every game is different and we’ve just got to put it all out there.”

McGill travelled to Ottawa on Jan. 12 to play the Carleton Ravens (12-5-4) and returned home with a decisive 6-2 victory. The team’s next home game is on Jan. 18, when they will host the Laurentian Voyageurs.

Moment of the Game:

With McGill holding onto a one-goal lead, fourth-year centre Frederic Gamelin managed to break past all five of Concordia’s skaters and beat the goalkeeper to put McGill on top 4-2 despite being short-handed by a player.

Quotable:

“You know, a couple bounces go differently and we are the ones cheering and having a parade at the end of the game.” – Alex Renaud on McGill’s narrow loss

Stat Corner:

Third-year goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon played the entire 62 minutes and 30 seconds of action without rest, tallying a game-high 38 saves.

Left shoe, right shoe: Superstition in sport

Baseball/Basketball/Hockey/Men's Varsity/Soccer/Sports by
(Taja De Silva / The McGill Tribune)

In 1982, only one game stood between the Cameroonian national soccer team and its first-ever trip to the FIFA World Cup. The night before the big game, Head Coach Jean Vincent decided to visit the team captain in his hotel room. He walked down the hall and knocked on the captain’s door. No one answered. Jean went from room to room until he finally reached the last door. The door was ajar and Jean peered in to find his entire team asleep together on the hotel floor. Cameroon qualified for the World Cup the next day.

Team Cameroon employed a superstition. Superstitious beliefs date back to ancient religious rites and tribal customs, arising in the face of stressful situations and uncertainty in order to create a semblance of control. Psychologists believe superstition to be the incorrect assignment of cause to effect, as these beliefs are retroactively linked with an event’s outcome. Sports, by design, cause stress and uncertainty for which superstition serves as a coping mechanism. It is unsurprising, then, that superstition has become such a prevalent force among athletes across disciplines. Despite its ubiquity, however, the phenomenon of superstition in sports remains largely understudied.

McGill men’s soccer Head Coach Marc Mounicot holds a master’s degree in sports psychology and wrote his thesis about the effects of superstition on soccer players’ pre-game anxiety levels. He spoke to the difficulties of researching superstition’s effects on athletes’ performance.

“One of the problems with superstition is that everyone is reluctant to speak about it,” Mounicot said. “It’s something very sacred to the individual.”

Mounicot noted that, while it is hard to discuss, superstition does hold a certain appeal to outsiders as a sensationalized storyline.

“People [are] very interested [in hearing about] the subject because it’s very connected to some unknown,” Mounicot said. “When we tried to build the questions [and talk to people…], we couldn’t go too deeply into personal beliefs or personal things because we knew we could reach a wall.”

As a result, Mounicot’s research was unable to conclude that any real correlation exists between superstitious beliefs and decreased pre-game anxiety. Other research, however, has indicated that superstitious practices in sports may actually have a direct impact on an athlete’s accomplishments. Research found that invoking a good-luck charm, such as an article of clothing, leads to superior performance in golf, as well as improved motor dexterity and memory. Further, research suggests that an increase in perceived ability boosts an athlete’s confidence which, in turn, improves performance.

For many McGill athletes, superstitions are commonplace yet consciously unrecognized or unexplored.

“First off, I put [on] my […] right sock, right shin pad, and right shoe, but I put my left glove on first,” McGill second-year goalkeeper Théo Farineau said. “I have no idea why I do it, but I feel like I’ve always been doing it, and, if I change it, it’s really going to mess up my focus.”

Farineau’s superstitions do not end there: He never steps on the opponent’s side of the pitch; he walks around the field at halftime; he touches his crossbar before each half.

“When I think about it now, I know it’s completely dumb, but I wouldn’t change it,” Farineau said.

Griffin Callahan-Auger, U1 Arts, plays intramural hockey and shares similar feelings. His primary superstition is that he plays best in his second games after sharpening his skates, so he plans accordingly.

“It’s a peace of mind thing,” Callahan-Auger wrote in a message to The McGill Tribune. “There is just no point risking stopping because it isn’t causing any harm right now.”

Superstition is unique to every individual, which Mounicot acknowledges. He makes a point not to observe any superstitious practices that his players may employ out of respect for their privacy.

“I see the game preparation and game routine as very personal, so [I] try not to interfere with this,” Mounicot said.

Further research has shown that an individual’s commitment to a ritual is generally higher as a given game’s uncertainty and importance increases. Additionally, researchers found that personality affects the likelihood that an individual will hold and be committed to superstitious beliefs.

Despite researchers’ limited understanding, superstition has a monumental impact on the professional sports world in which players and fans alike display some of the most unconventional practices.

Michael Jordan’s rituals have had a lasting impact on basketball culture. After winning the NCAA championship with the University of North Carolina, he wore his alma mater’s blue shorts as a good-luck charm underneath his Chicago Bulls jersey for every game. Jordan went far out of his way to uphold this tradition; in addition to incurring several fines, he was also forced to wear longer shorts throughout his career. The latter trend quickly caught on in the basketball world. Longer shorts went on to become integral to the modern era of basketball.

There are plenty of other superstitious athletes. Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs started his batting practices at exactly 5:17 and his running sprints at 7:17. He devoured chicken before every game, earning him the nickname of the ‘Chicken Man.’ Serena Williams bounces the ball five times before her first serve, twice before her second, and wears the same socks from the beginning to the end of each tournament. Montreal Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy skated backwards, from centre ice toward the net, turning around at the last second in order to shrink the goal during his career. He believed this practice made it more difficult for opponents to score on his net.

Superstition has also shaped fans’ experiences. In baseball, there are certain unwritten rules: While a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter; teammates will not talk to their pitcher, opposing teams will not bunt, and fans and broadcasters will refrain from talking about the pitcher’s potential achievement. Male hockey players and fans share the tradition of growing playoff beards. A few unfortunate fans even believe that it is bad luck for them to watch their teams play. Fans seek certainty just as much as athletes and can find enjoyment and entertainment in the futile pursuit of victory.

While superstition remains poorly understood on the scientific front, it has, nonetheless, become ingrained in sporting culture. Superstition invokes an unorthodox sense of control for individual players and community for teams and fans, allowing everyone to feel like they are an important part of the action.

McGill men’s basketball rattled by Stingers

Basketball/Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Keli Geers / The McGill Tribune)

On Nov. 22, the McGill basketball teams hosted their annual Pots and Pans Night. Unfortunately, the raucous crowd went home disappointed, as the McGill men’s basketball team (2-2) could not complete its comeback against the crosstown-rival Concordia Stingers (2-1) and fell by a score of 87-81.

McGill started the first quarter powerfully, and fifth-year point-guard Alex Paquin helped set the tone. He scored McGill’s first seven points and had nine total in the frame. Fifth-year forward Noah Daoust did an excellent job keeping Concordia away from the offensive glass early. On the offensive end, McGill moved the ball efficiently, and threes from third-year forward Edgar Brown and first-year guard Anthony Fisiru helped build a 19-12 lead at the end of the first.

In the second period, both teams’ offences found their grooves. After McGill second-year guard Sam Jenkins converted on a three-point play to stretch the lead to 28-21, Concordia went on a 14-3 run over the next two minutes to take a 35-31 lead. The McGill side, however, battled back to take the halftime lead, 41-40.

Coming out of the gate after halftime, neither team could do anything to stop the other from scoring. It became clear that the first team to find their defence would gain an edge.

“We came out in the second half very slowly,” first-year forward Brennan Laidman said. “We basically just traded baskets the entire time [….] We ended up falling behind and we couldn’t make it all the way back after that.”

At one point, Paquin and Concordia guard Ricardo Monge showed what it meant to trade baskets. First, Paquin converted a rare four-point-play. Then, Monge made a layup through contact and the ensuing free throw. Then, it was Paquin’s turn again: He hit his free throw after being fouled while making a layup to give McGill a 51-48 lead.

The Stingers then started connecting from long-distance more consistently: They went 4-8 from three-point range in the frame and shot 42.3 per cent for the night. As a result, Concordia’s three-point deficit became a 12-point lead by the end of the quarter. The Stingers slowed McGill down and finished the third ahead 70-58.

A quick 6-0 run for McGill to start the fourth quarter cut the Concordia lead in half, but, ultimately, McGill’s lack of execution on the defensive end stopped them from taking home the victory.

“We responded pretty well [at the start of the fourth quarter],” Jenkins said. “Again, we couldn’t get stops. We couldn’t stop the drives, and they were kicking out for easy shots, wide-open.”

With the Concordia lead down to six points and 3:26 remaining in the game, Daoust fouled out. That loss made it more difficult to stop the Concordia offence without a key presence in the post to match up against Stingers centre Olivier Simon, who finished with a game-high 32 points.

The game was not over yet, though: A quick McGill run cut the Stingers lead to three once again. And, with 15 seconds to play, the home team forced a turnover to get one last chance to tie the game. However, Paquin missed his three-point shot, and three Concordia free throws ultimately sealed the Stingers win.

McGill has ten days off to recuperate after the tough loss. They play next on Dec. 1 against the Bishop’s Gaiters (3-1) in Lennoxville, Quebec.

Moment of the Game:

Fifth-year guard Avery Cadogan knocked down a three-point shot to cut the Concordia lead to 72-70, bringing the 546 fans packed into Love Competition Hall to their feet.

Quotable:

“Both coaches went really small. Avery [Cadogan], who’s normally a three [a small forward], was playing centre for us [….] It’s less opportunity for mismatches, it’s harder to get open shots. But on defence, it’s easier for us because we can switch everything, and we can block out.” – McGill guard Sam Jenkins on the last three minutes of the game.

Stat Corner:

McGill’s second and third quarters were poor defensive efforts, as they allowed Concordia to score 58 points combined.

McGill men’s basketball holds off UQAM in thrilling victory

Basketball/Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Gabriel Helfant / The McGill Tribune)

On Nov. 8, the McGill men’s basketball team (2-0) opened their season at Love Competition Hall against the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins (0-2). In a hard-fought game, McGill won in the final seconds by a score of 62-60.

McGill started quickly, taking a 15-5 lead out of the gate. Fifth-year point guard Alex Paquin was red-hot, scoring the team’s first seven points. The game started to even out as UQAM began hitting their shots and gaining momentum, but fourth-year-transfer McGill forward Levi Londole hit a buzzer-beater, and McGill finished the first quarter up 23-11.

Londole carried his dominating play right into the second: He converted a three-point-play right out of the gate, and McGill stretched their lead to 17, their largest of the night. However, McGill then faltered, letting the Citadins back into the game. UQAM went on a 10-3 run to get back within striking distance before McGill pulled away, once again, to finish the half up 35-24.

“We knew they were [going to] come out hard, so we made sure we were [going to] come out as hard, if not harder, to not give them hope from the beginning,” Paquin said.

At the start of the second half, UQAM turned up the intensity, starting the second half just as strong as McGill did to open the game. The Citadins put up a quick 14 points to McGill’s four, bringing the score to 39-38. With the help of a deep three-point shot by Paquin and a string of crucial defensive stops, McGill brought the game back under control. At the end of the third quarter, they led 48-43.

The two sides traded control of the game throughout the fourth quarter. Late in the frame, McGill went on a quick 6-0 run to give them a 56-48 lead. With momentum shifting, it seemed like enough to carry them to victory. However, UQAM answered with 12 consecutive points to take a late 60-56 lead with 58 seconds left on the clock, shocking the packed crowd.

The home side stayed focused: McGill fifth-year guard Avery Cadogan scored a key three-pointer to cut the deficit to one with 30 seconds left. On the next play, fourth-year point guard Isaiah Cummins got the ball off of a defensive rebound, drove right to the basket, and scored with 17.8 seconds remaining. He also drew a foul and sunk the free throw to make it a 62-60 game.

“I just made [a] few bad plays the few plays before, so I had to make up for it,” Cummins said. “So, I was going to the rack, and I knew we didn’t have much time left, and […] there was only one guy in front of me. So, I just took it to the rack.”

After Cummins knocked down the free throw, fifth-year McGill forward Noah Daoust made a key block, preserving the lead and sealing the game.

McGill moved to 2-0 with a win against Université de Laval (0-2) on Nov. 10 and will next play at home against Bishop’s University (1-0) on Nov. 15.

Moment of the Game

With 17.8 seconds left, fourth-year guard Isaiah Cummins won the game for McGill with a driving three-point-play.

Quotable

“We [have to] do a better job with our young kids and having them understand the scouting report and who we want to shoot the ball and who we don’t.” – Head Coach David DeAveiro on how to prepare themselves for their next game.

Stat Corner

With strong play on both sides of the court, Levi Londole filled the stat sheet. He put up 13 points, a team-leading nine rebounds, and two blocks.

Know Your Athlete: Alex Paquin

Basketball/Know Your Athlete/Men's Varsity/Sports by
(basketball.qc.ca)

Alex Paquin, the McGill men’s team’s fifth-year starting point guard from Candiac, Quebec, began his athletic career in a different sport: Baseball. At age seven, Paquin’s brother—who went on to play baseball in university—introduced him to basketball.

“I was playing [basketball] everywhere [after that], in the park, at home,” Paquin said. “I was just this little kid who was always playing […and] having fun.”

Eventually, Paquin chose to pursue basketball more seriously and set his sights set on playing in university. He made his way to American University, an NCAA Division 1 school in Washington, DC, where he played for three seasons.

“[Playing in the United States] was pretty cool,” Paquin said. “It’s a lot different than in Canada. The culture of sports is on another level.”

After graduating three years later, Paquin returned to Montreal to play for McGill while working towards his diploma in applied finance. He gained two more years of playing time with the move due to U Sports’ eligibility rules which allow for five years of varsity athletic participation.

Paquin has, thus far, made the most of his return to his home country: He helped the McGill men to a program-best fourth-place finish last year while earning RSEQ and U Sports Championship All-Star honours.

“At first, it was hard to adjust, […] but once I [did], it was honestly the year I loved [the] most […and] had the most fun,” Paquin said. “It was just a connection […with] their culture […of] brotherhood, working hard, and having fun doing it.”

Despite growing up as a Kobe Bryant fan, Paquin models his play most closely to Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. Paquin sees himself as a smart, tough player who is a strong shooter and a hard worker.

“I feel like I’ve eliminated most of my deficiencies [on] offence,” Paquin said. “Now, it is mostly about getting in shape.”

The biggest change Paquin has seen in his game over the years has been in his approach to the game.

“It used to be hard,” Paquin said. “I used to [think] ‘I need to score, I need to put on a lot of pressure,’ but, now […] I’m really prepared. When I come into a game, it doesn’t matter what’s in front of me. I’ll know what to do.”

Looking ahead to his final university season, Paquin has set himself lofty goals. He hopes to earn All-Canadian honours, and he wants his team to keep winning.

“Most people think that because [five graduating players] left, we’re going to have a down year, but I really want to show everyone that it doesn’t matter,” Paquin said. “They instilled [a winning attitude] at McGill, [and] we’re still going to win.”

Paquin hopes to play professionally in Europe upon graduating from McGill. That process requires finding an agent, showing off his skills in a highlight reel, and, most importantly, having a strong season.

“It’s stressful […] because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Paquin said. “I’ve got to show up [to] every game. I can’t take a break [….] I have to perform.”

Paquin’s game has benefitted from that sort of additional pressure thus far. The point guard has averaged 19 points, three assists, and three rebounds through the eight preseason games in which he played—all improvements from his numbers last year. As the regular season tips off on Thursday, Nov. 8, Paquin will look to maintain his team’s pace and lead McGill to yet another record season.

McGill rugby falls to Bishop’s in semi-final

Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Keli Geers / The McGill Tribune)

On Nov. 3 at Percival Molson Stadium, the McGill men’s rugby season came to a close when the team (5-2) fell to the Bishop’s University Gaiters (5-2) by a score of 19-17. With this semi-final loss, McGill was eliminated from the RSEQ playoffs.

Bishop’s was in control of the action throughout the first half. After opening scoring with a try 15 minutes in, the Gaiters followed up with a successful free kick shortly after to take a 7-0 lead. They then extended the lead to 14 with a second try and free kick. McGill’s only points of the half trimmed Bishop’s lead to nine: Third-year hooker Alex Pantis scored a try, but McGill could not convert for the extra two points, and so the half ended with a score of 14-5 in the Gaiters’ favour.

Bishop’s carried its momentum into the second half, quickly scoring a try. However, the Gaiters were unable to convert for the two additional points. Then, the McGill offence started to take over. Third-year outside-centre Jessen Gibbs scored a try to cut the Bishop’s lead to nine; later, with minutes to go, first-year fullback Benjamin Russell reached the end zone to make it 19-15, and a two-point kick brought McGill within two. Unfortunately, time ran out, ending both McGill’s comeback bid and its season while Bishop’s booked its ticket to the RSEQ Championship.

“It was all going to come down to who was going to make the most mistakes,” first-year fly-half Owen Cumming said. “We had too many penalties in the first half, and that cost us pretty heavily.”

Ultimately, it was a successful season for the McGill men’s rugby squad. They finished with a regular season record of 5-1, which earned them second place in the RSEQ. Their only regular season loss came on Oct. 19 against the undefeated Concordia Stingers. Unfortunately, McGill’s attempt to win their first championship since 2015, and its sixth in the last 10 years, fell short. Though the loss was disappointing, the team held their heads high and appreciated this season’s success.

“From the start, the team was more cohesive than I’ve seen it since I started playing here,” Gibbs said. “The wins we locked down were certainly a product of our bond, and I am confident that this team will be in the finals next year.”

Gibbs, the team captain, was named an RSEQ first-team all-star. His faith that the future is bright for his squad extends down the roster: Among this increasingly-cohesive unit  were ten rookies, including Cumming and second row Karl Hunger, who agreed with Gibbs’ assessment of the bond that the team shared this season.

“The older players made sure all the younger guys felt included and part of something bigger than just a rugby team,” Hunger said. “Together, we’ve built a strong bond between all players on and off the field which I believe is a very important part of having a rugby club.”

Moment of the Game:

The crowd erupted as Benjamin Russell scored a try in the final 15 minutes of the match to pull McGill within two points, giving the team and the fans hope that they could complete the comeback.

Quotable:

“Seeing my team stand tall and support each other following such a devastating loss is the greatest success that I could ask for.” – Captain Jessen Gibbs on the teamwork within the McGill locker room.

Stat Corner:

McGill had one of the RSEQ’s strongest defences this season, surrendering only 61 points all year, and fewer than 10 points in four of their six regular season outings.

McGill swim hosts second RSEQ Cup of the season

Martlets/Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Miya Keilin / The McGill Tribune)

On Oct. 27, McGill hosted the second RSEQ swimming meet of the season. The men’s team took home a first place finish, while the women came in second. Since Saturday was the only meet that McGill will host this season, these impressive finishes were that much more special for the swimmers.

“It was a lot of fun,” first-year Grace Polkosnik said. “It’s a lot easier to swim when everyone is cheering you on, and there were lots of positive vibes from [the team].”

This meet comes just two weeks after the season opener at Université de Sherbrooke where both the men and women’s teams placed second.

“[We’ve seen] massive improvement,” Head Coach Peter Carpenter said. “Fitness is taking hold, […] and it’s looking great.”

First-year Claire Shewchuk echoed her coach’s sentiment.

“It always gets better later in the season,” she said.“This still isn’t [a meet] we’re resting for, but there’s definitely been improvement.”

Eighteen McGill swimmers have already qualified for the USports National Championships in eight events, including first-year Clement Secchi, who took home three gold medals from Sherbrooke and placed third in the 200m backstroke this weekend. Third-year Sam Wang also qualified for nationals at Sherbrooke. He picked up 579 points for McGill on Saturday and is currently second on the RSEQ points table. On the women’s side, first-year Erin Miller qualified for nationals in the 200m butterfly in Sherbrooke. Coach Carpenter doesn’t want to stop there, though.

“If we can get ten more qualifiers [in the next three weeks], I will be ecstatic,” Carpenter said. “It might seem a little unrealistic to set the goal that high, but that’s what we’re shooting for.”

In the beginning of the season, the swimmers were focused on fitness, but now it’s time for them to start focusing on their individual performances and begin reaching their fastest times of the season.

“At this point, we’re able to be more specific with individual swimmers and the events that they’re going to be swimming,” Carpenter said. “Our first peak meet is in three weeks, […] so we’re excited about that, and that’s what we’re going to be gunning for next.”

Polkosnik had a similar, positive outlook on her season so far and what it means for her in the coming meets.

“I’ve been swimming pretty well recently, so I’m just trying to keep that up,” Polkosnik said. “Honestly I’m just trying to have fun for most of it.”

The rest of the season looks promising for McGill, with those 18 swimmers already qualified for nationals and time for more to join them. McGill swimming hopes to stay at the top of the rankings and will continue to work on individual performances throughout the final four RSEQ meets of the season.  

Moment of the meet

During the final relay races, swimmers from each school lined up at the edge of the pool to cheer their teammates on to a strong finish.

Quotable

“If you look at the results, there are first-years winning medals, which is really exciting. This is their first year of eligibility and they’re only going to get faster.” – Head Coach Peter Carpenter on the team’s potential

Stats Corner

McGill had five of the ten top individual scores on the men’s side of the competition this weekend.

Stingers snap Redmen rugby’s undefeated record

Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Keli Geers / The McGill Tribune)

On Oct. 19, the McGill Redmen (4-1) faced off against the Concordia Stingers (5-0) at Molson Stadium. Both teams entered the arena undefeated: Deadlocked in a tie for first place in the RSEQ and playing for sole possession of the top slot in the conference. McGill was slow to start, and their valiant second half effort was ultimately insufficient, falling to Concordia by a score of 22-15.

The Stingers opened up the game with a quick 12-0 lead. However, McGill battled back: Third-year hooker Alex Pantis wrangled a try for the Redmen, ending their dry spell. Throughout the half, tensions spilled out onto the field, resulting in penalties for both sides. Ultimately, the penalties cost McGill points, which came back to haunt the Redmen later in the game. The Stingers closed out the first half with a comfortable 19-5 lead.

After halftime, a determined McGill team took the field. First-year fly-half Owen Cumming and third-year flanker Pierre Grison helped drive McGill’s offence, each picking up a try in the half. The Redmen played phenomenal defence, too, giving up only six points to the Stingers in the final half. Despite their efforts, the Redmen couldn’t take advantage of the offensive and defensive surge, and the Stingers took home the victory by a 22-15 score.

“I thought we played very well in the second half,” Redmen Head Coach Ian Baillie said. “[We] took too many penalties. That cost us the game, but we moved the ball. We scored some really nice tries, and we looked good out there.”

McGill will be looking to bounce back from their loss in their upcoming game against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or (3-2) at Stade de L’Université in Sherbrooke on Oct. 28. This will be their last game of the season before the playoffs begin in November.

“We can use this game [against Sherbrooke] as a really good opportunity to come back from this game [against Concordia],” Pantis said.

Overall, the Redmen remain positive and are focused on their upcoming match and the playoffs.

“I think we’re going to go far,” Grison said. “We’re going to put in the work to achieve what we want to achieve, which is to win.”

Moment of the game

In the closing minutes of the game, the Redmen secured possession and Grison barrelled past defenders to ring in one last try for McGill.

Stat corner

McGill held Concordia to 22 points, Concordia’s lowest offensive total this season.

Quotable

“When we play our game, like we saw in the second half, it’s something else. We’ve just got to stick to our game.” – Fly-half Owen Cumming

McGill baseball wins division championship

Baseball/Men's Varsity/Sports by
(Gabriel Helfant / The McGill Tribune)

The McGill Redmen (13-3) and the visiting Carleton Ravens (12-4) each won a game in their conference-championship-opening doubleheader on Oct. 13. McGill lost the first game 7-3 after holding the lead for the first six innings, while fifth-year pitcher Rocky Hroch’s five-inning no-hitter led the Redmen to an 11-0 mercy rule victory in game two.

McGill got on the board in the first inning of game one thanks to an errant throw from the Carleton catcher that sailed over the second baseman’s head. In the following inning, third-year outfielder Sasha Lagarde delivered a timely double that brought home two runs to make it 3-0.

A controversial call highlighted the top of the third: Outfielder Jonathan Duforest made a spectacular catch running backwards and then falling over, but the umpire ruled that Duforest had dropped the ball when he fell. McGill’s home crowd did not seem to agree with the umpire, but the call stood, leading to two Carleton runs.

Redmen starting pitcher Sam Greene threw a solid six-inning outing, allowing those two runs and striking out six Ravens. In the seventh inning, fourth-year relief pitcher Henry Dennis replaced Greene and subsequently gave up a three-run homerun that put Carleton up 5-3. The Ravens tacked on two more runs and then shut down the Redmen in the bottom of the seventh.

McGill’s frustration was summed up by Sasha Lagarde’s seventh inning at-bat, from which he was ejected after arguing balls and strikes with the umpire. General Manager Jason Starr, too, was ejected after he came out to defend his player.

Following their initial loss, the Redmen shifted their focus to the importance of the next two games in the series, both of which they must win in order to claim the conference title.

“We’ve got to take the next two games one at a time,” Redmen Head Coach Casey Auerbach said after the first game. “We have to worry about winning the next game first [before worrying about the deciding game three].”

Despite the loss, the team remained optimistic heading into the second game.

“A lot of things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go,” relief pitcher Bobby Finnie said. “But, we are resilient. We’ll fight back. Same thing happened last weekend, and we came out and killed [Universite de Montreal] the second game.”

The Redmen subsequently turned those words into action: They clobbered Carleton with an 11-0 mercy-rule victory.

After Jared Kersh walked with the bases loaded to score a run, Duforest collected two runs batted in with a single to centrefield in the second inning to make it 3-0. Emerson Dohm and Michael O’Toole took back-to-back walks to bring in a run for the Redmen, and Dominic DeFelice singled to score yet another run. McGill put up seven runs in that second inning, giving starter Rocky Hroch a comfortable lead going into the third.

With an 11-0 lead heading into the top of the fifth, Hroch could allow only one run in order to secure the mercy rule victory for the Redmen. The starter went above and beyond, inducing three consecutive groundouts to claim the victory and his second career no-hitter.

The Redmen beat the Ravens 7-4 in Ottawa on Oct. 14 to take the series and claim their fifth consecutive divisional title. Both the Redmen and the Ravens have an automatic berth into the national championship playoffs which begin on Oct. 19.

Moment of the games

Redmen game-two-starter Rocky Hroch forced a groundout to end game two and complete five innings without allowing a hit.

Quotable

“It’s very possible that we play [Carleton] in the national championships. It happened last year. We played them in the conference final, and then in the national championship. They’re a good ball team. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again.” – Redmen game one starting pitcher Sam Greene

Stat Corner

The Redmen walked nine times and collected 16 hits in the two games, contributing to a combined 14 runs scored for the day.

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