Sports

Varsity Round Up: Feb. 24 to March 5

McGill men’s hockey fails to conquer Concordia in semi-finals

Julian Tabbitt

After a dominant quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Gee-Gees (13–11–2), the McGill Redbirds hockey team (14–8–3) headed across town for the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East semi-final series against the Concordia Stingers (19–7–0). With a 6-3 loss in the opening game of the best-of-three series, the Redbirds suited up for a win-or-go-home game at McConnell Arena on Feb. 24. 

The Redbirds got out to a hot start, dominating possession throughout the first period, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Despite two power plays in the same period, the Redbirds struggled to find their flow. With just under two minutes to go in the first, Concordia tucked their first of the game via a beautiful bar-down goal from Charles Tremblay, carrying a 1-0 lead into the second. 

As tensions rose in the second period, McGill’s Eric Uba took back-to-back penalties, giving Concordia room to net their second goal with just under eight minutes to go in the period. 

Down 2-0 heading into the third, the Redbirds hoped to swing the game in their favour. Outshooting Concordia 32-25 over the course of the game, the Stingers’ goaltender, Jonathan Lemieux, stifled the Redbirds, giving his team the opportunity to solidify the win. Despite their best efforts, the Redbirds’ season came to a close in a whimpering 4-0 final. 

But, after finishing the 2021-22 season 6–11–0, this year’s 14–8–3 record indicates a new beginning for the young team. Reflecting on the season, Captain Taylor Ford highlighted the camaraderie in the locker room.

“We have a really good group and I think next year’s our year,” Ford told The McGill Tribune

Rookie forward and McGill’s leading scorer of the playoffs, William Rouleau, echoed his captain’s message. 

“We have a really special group and we have all the pieces in the locker room to get back next year and win it all,” he said in an interview with the Tribune.

Next season, McGill is retaining their 10 leading scorers and adding former NHL draft pick Zach Gallant from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League (AHL). 

Despite the excitement surrounding the future of Redbirds hockey, the loss to Concordia marked the last stand for two players: Goaltender Emanuel Vella and winger Jordan-Ty Fournier

“[Vella and Fournier] are as good people as you’re going to get, and they are going to have great careers. These young men would do anything for the other members of the team, on and off the ice,” head coach David Urquhart said about the two graduating players.

McGill Track and Field shines at home in RSEQ Championships

Anoushka Oke

On Feb. 24 and 25, the McGill track and field team rounded out their season by hosting and participating in the RSEQ Championships at the Tomlinson Fieldhouse. The Martlets and Redbirds took on athletes from universities around Quebec and eastern Ontario.

Friday’s schedule started with the 60-metre dash, where Donna Ntambue snatched a gold medal with a time of 7.47 seconds. Also bringing home gold on Friday was pole vaulter Rosalie Lupien and distance runner Matthew Beaudet in the 1,500-metre. The day wrapped up with the highly-anticipated 4×800-metre relay races—the men’s relay team, composed of Beaudet, Sebastian Danson, Markus Geiger, and Jules Gueguen, was able to secure first place with a time of 7:40.03.

Long jump, high jump, triple jump, the 600-metre run, the 4×200-metre relay, and shot put also took place on Friday; the men’s 4x200m relay team of Ricardo Percopo, Alexander Crooks, Paul Mandelos, and Jules Barrieu secured a silver medal with their 1:30.72 finish.

Saturday opened with finals of the high jump and the weight throw where Ella Villeneuve threw a distance of 12.78 metres to win gold. The 60-metre hurdles followed. After winning her preliminary heat, Vanessa Lu-Langley’s time of 9.09 seconds in the finals won her a silver medal.

Later in the day, an intense 3,000-metre race ended with Beaudet winning his third gold medal of the weekend. He was later named the RSEQ’s male athlete of the year and was also awarded male track performance of the year. 

The 4×400 metre relay was the last event––a Redbirds team of Geiger, Percopo, Barrieu, and Crooks ran a time of 3:22.23 to take home a silver medal. 

The Redbirds and Martlets both placed third overall in the meet, behind Laval and Université de Montréal. McGill collected a total of 16 medals, with the women’s team accumulating 103 points and the men’s scoring 118.

Martlets captain Makayla Mitchell, who placed second in the pentathlon, discussed the season in an interview with the Tribune.

“It was so nice to finally have a full season of competition after COVID,” she said. “I feel like the support from the team was definitely at a high this year. Personally, I am super happy with how my season went. There is always room for improvement, and I’m excited to see what’s next.”

Athletes who placed first in their event at the RSEQ Championships, as well as those who met a qualification standard, will compete in the national USports Championships in Saskatchewan from March 9 to March 11.

Martlets volleyball victorious in semi-final against UdeM but fall to UQÀM in RSEQ final

Staff Writer, Julie Ferreyra

After closing out the regular season with a victory against UQÀM (20–13–7), Martlets volleyball (20–10–10) kicked off their best-of-three semi-final series on Feb. 24 against the Université de Montréal (UdeM) Carabins (20–13–7). 

The opening set started off with a bang for the Martlets, who quickly grabbed a 6-4 lead over the Carabins. From her first serve, power-hitter Victoria Iannotti attacked the Carabins, carrying the Martlets lead to 10-7 before the first player rotations. As UdeM was desperate to swing the game in their favour, the Carabins took several timeouts and eventually equalized the score at 18 points apiece. With the score tied, a back-and-forth battle ensued for the final point of the set. Right side hitter Clara Poire and middle blocker Charlène Robitaille secured the last point, successfully closing the first set 25-21.  

Taking the second set 25-19, UdeM opened the third set with two successive points. However, after several Carabin outs, the Martlets came back with a successful block from Poire to even the score at 10-10. Despite their best efforts, the Martlets were unable to catch the Carabins in the third and fourth sets with UdeM winning both 25-23 and 25-20 respectively. 

“The game goes by momentum, we’re gonna be prepared, we’re gonna push hard, we’re gonna be ready,” said Martlets head coach Rachèle Béliveau to the Tribune when explaining the difference in performance between sets. “We’re taking it one set at a time.”

The fifth and final set saw a boost of energy for the Martlets, with four unanswered points for an early 8-1 lead. McGill failed to maintain their upper hand, but first-year right-side Rachel Leduc equalized the score at 14 apiece before the Martlets pulled ahead for a 16-14 victory and their 10th consecutive win against UdeM. 

“We knew that they were gonna show up [….] We had to stay calm,” libero Catherine Vercheval told the Tribune. “We have a tendency, usually it’s the opposite: We don’t start strong and then we end up really strong, but [tonight] it was the other way around [….] We’re still working on that, just to be consistent throughout the whole time.” 

After dropping the second game of the series 3-1, the final match-up on Feb. 26 saw the stands roaring with support for both teams. 

The Martlets lost the first set of the last semi-final game, but found a new level of intensity, winning the second and third sets. After a rocky start to the fifth set, the Martlets managed to recover, with second-year setter Charlotte Chouinard-Laliberté assisting on the final point for a 3-2 victory, advancing McGill to the RSEQ finals. 

On March 3, McGill looked to defend their first-ever RSEQ Championship title against UQÀM. Sadly, the Martlets were unable to repeat last year’s magic, losing the best-of-three series two games to none. 

Despite the RSEQ loss, the Martlets secured a spot at the USports Nationals, which will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia from March 17-19.

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