Entering yet another season as the defending RSEQ champions, the Redmen (1-0-0) have something of a dynasty to uphold. Last year came right down to the wire as the team forfeited the first half of its otherwise undefeated season due to an ineligible player, but came roaring back to win the rest of its games. The icing on the cake was beating cross-town rivals Concordia in the final, securing a seventh consecutive RESQ title.
Although a sizeable number of players from last year’s roster were lost to graduation, expectations for McGill are lofty. Fortunately, the team is showing no signs of loosening its grip on what has been, in the last decade, McGill’s championship to lose. A strong contingent of returning starters, including last year’s MVP Cameron Perrin, will seek to step forward both on the field and in the locker room to make sure that a winning culture remains.
Head Coach Craig Beemer also returns for his sixth year at the helm, bringing with him an incredible 66-6 coaching record. Beemer has expressed confidence both in this year’s squad and in the continued depth of developing talent in McGill’s program.
The Redmen shrugged off any remaining fears of a championship hangover on Friday, opening their season with a 7-5 win over the Sherbrooke Vert et Or. McGill’s next challenge will be the Montreal Carabins (0-0-1) as the teams take to Stade CEPSUM on Sept. 15.
New Head Coach Matthew Stephens steps into his first role as a CIS head coach. His main challenge will be to coax consistency out of a squad that has lost in the RSEQ semi-finals five straight years. Too often last year, the Martlets, “stooped to the level of another team or let [the opponent] control the game,” according to starting-wing Deanna Foster.
Foster, a sophomore political science major, commented that the team is trying to “play the game to our strengths,” by “exploiting the whole field[…] because we are fast and have the skills to[…]send the other team a message in the first 10 minutes of the game.”
Emily Barber, a junior hooker, says the team is intent on not following in the footsteps of its predecessors. “The biggest challenge[…]is remaining focused and committed to getting better each and every game of the season,“ Barber said.
Luckily for Stephens he welcomes back a skilled crew from last year’s team, including standouts Barber, Brianna Miller, and Caroline Suchorski, all of whom hope to build off of a successful summer spent representing Team Canada in international play.
The trio highlights a veteran core that looks to improve on last year’s tumultuous season. Miller, a fly-half who earned All-Canadian and RSEQ Player-of-the-Year honours, will lead a group of backs that should light up the scoreboard on a consistent basis.
The shift in outlook has so far proven to be successful as McGill (1-1) blew out the Sherbrooke Vert et Or 48-12 to kick off the RSEQ season. If Stephens can help the squad achieve its vast potential, the Martlets have a chance to win the RSEQ championship and emerge as a dark-horse candidate at Nationals.
The Redmen Lacrosse season ended with a poetic finish, in which McGill captain Jishan Sharples scored the game-winning goal against the University of Western Ontario to win the previously elusive Baggataway Cup. Sharples, who had once planned to attend Western Ontario, decided instead to take his talents to McGill. The team finished with a 9-1 overall record to end atop the Eastern Conference, setting a lofty precedent for this year.
The Redmen (2-0) enter the season with a roster filled both with youthful talent and hardened veterans. Though the team has lost Sharples; all-time leading scorer Ryan Besse; and All-Canadians Kyle Robinson and Jeff O’Neil, the Redmen still have a good number of veterans to help anchor the team. Furthermore, McGill has a young and exciting group of rookies and sophomores whose development will provide excellent depth for a squad with championship aspirations.
McGill’s success last season stemmed from its team-first mentality and outstanding offensive and defensive cohesiveness. The veteran presence on the team will continue to keep the offence composed, hopefully maintaining the spectacular Redmen passing game. The fresh young talent adds an explosive component that can complement and enhance last season’s team dynamic.
The season has so far been promising for McGill, with statement victories against the Trent Excalibur and Queen’s Gaels. The games have shown the strength of the Redmen depth at midfield, with the McGill players wearing down the opposition and gritting out tough games. Standout goalie and third-year philosophy major Riley McGillis, has continued his unparalleled performance around the league, validating his 2011 Goalie-of-the-Year award.
An examination of the CUFLA this season shows that McGill has a good chance of repeating as champions. As it stands right now, the Western Conference is wide open, but it is safe to say that the East will be McGill’s to lose.
McGill plays its home-opener at Molson Stadium against the Concordia Stingers this Saturday, Sept. 14 at 6:00 p.m.
The 2012 season saw the McGill Redmen (1-1) reach the CIBA National semifinals before falling to eventual champions St. Clair College.
Entering his second year at the position, Head Coach Jason Starr has high hopes for his squad. While the team lost a few key veterans in the off-season, its core remains largely intact.
This season represents a transition year in terms of leadership, with players such as sophomore Tyler Welence taking a more prominent role both on and off the field. The Redmen should also benefit from the return of former CIBA All-Canadian Channing Arndt, who spent the past two years at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.
This year’s rookie class is one of the strongest in recent memory. With a few players slated to be key contributors, and more than a few prospects in the mix, the depth and talent on this team should match any Redmen team of the past few years.
Third-year starting pitcher Elliott Ariganello is not shy about goals for the team.
“We definitely have big expectations this season. We have a few additions to the rotation and a solid line-up, top to bottom. We’re certainly looking to play for a National Championship.”
A strong start to the season is more important than ever as the traditionally strong Northern Conference will become even more difficult with the addition of a team from the Université de Montréal. Unlike many teams in their inaugural seasons, the Carabins should be quite competitive. Cross-town rivals Concordia have also improved with a solid rookie-class of their own.
A tough conference will mean the Redmen may face multiple obstacles on the road to repeating last season’s success. However, despite the stiffer competition, the Redmen have enough potential that, when healthy, a national championship is a realistic possibility.