author: konstantin kharitonov | sports editor
Looking back at the season that was
And that is it for the season. Every single U of R team has officially ended their season, and it is time to take a look at the season that was for the Cougars as a whole.
First thought right off the bat is this was a much more successful year for the university program in years, due to a lot of surprising seasons from the teams and individual efforts as well. It also helped that the heavyweights completely dominated just as predicted. Five Cougars/Rams teams have seen post-season action this year, something that the department can look at and see actual progress. Now, lets just how each sport did this year. Here’s a partial recap of the year.
Both teams have been amazing this year. The women’s team has been well documented for the amazing season they have had this year. They have absolutely dominated the competition, and have the accolades to show for it. The team finished off the best season in school history with a Canada West championship title and a 3rd-place medal at the U SPORTS championships, which the program hosted this year.
Changes are coming for the team, as Charlotte Kot, Sara Hubenig, and Caitlin Zacharias have all finished their university careers, leaving behind large holes for the team to fill. Fortunately, the Cougars seem to be in good hands as all star Kyanna Giles and rookie sensation Carolina Goncalves, winner of the Kathy Shields Award for U SPORTS rookie of the year, both look to take on larger leadership roles next year. The team finished with a 34-4 overall record.
Over on the men’s side, the Cougars are in for a dog fight the entire year, and were able to pull off a playoff appearance. The team riding high at the beginning of the season, riding a 7-game win streak that all but secured their playoff spot in the first half of the season. However, when the new year came upon us, the Cougars had to settle for only 4 more wins on the season, good enough for the playoffs, but not good enough to get a bye through the Canada West play-in game.
Not happy to be in the position, they took out their anger on the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack and securing a playoff series with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. The series was short-lived, however, as they ended the Cougars season with a 2 game sweep. The men’s team will also face some big changes, as Brian Ofori, Brandon Tull and Alex Igual are all graduates from this year.
While the men’s team had faced another tough season as always, the women’s team had a much more successful year, being a playoff team for the first time since 2014.
The women’s team had a much better season than anyone really had expected in the offseason last year, as they were coming off a season with a whopping 3 wins. The start of the year did not bring confidence either, with 5 straight losses to start the year. However, that is when the team turned it on, bringing on solid wins against solid opponents such as the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University, and University of Alberta.
The volleyball stormed to a wild finish, needing some help from some out of town result on the final weekend in order to make the playoffs. The team finished with a 12-12 record, and that resulted in some praise in the form of awards, as the head coach Melanie Sanford was named the Canada West Coach of the Year. The U of R’s Director of Sport, Lisa Robertson, also had some praise of the head coach, highlighting how well she managed the young team.
“With half of the team’s starters only in their first or second season at the U SPORTS level and the entire roster coming back next season, Melanie has set the table for this team to take an even bigger step forward in 2018-19.”
The men’s hockey team has suffered yet another struggling year, with only four wins to their name for the year.
On the women’s side, the season faired better, but still filled with inconsistency throughout the year. The team did finish with a below .500 record; the team still was able to squeak into the playoffs, facing off with the University of Alberta Pandas in the first round. Alas, the season was unfortunately over when the Pandas won the first two games, each by a score of 2-1, taking the series.
The roster, while young, will still be without forwards Bailey Braden and Kylee Kipper, as well as defenceman Nikki Watters-Mathes after this year, as they are retiring from university competition this year. Look toward Jordan Kulbida, who was named to the Canada West All-Rookie team, to take a bigger step forward with the team in the following season.