Cavalry awards
The Cavalry Awards are handed out yearly by the Fulcrum. Image: Rame Abdulkader/The Fulcrum
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Casarin, Morton take top honours at the annual Cavalry Awards

Every academic year, the Fulcrum hands out the Cavalry Awards for the best that the University of Ottawa’s Sports Services has to offer. This year saw some inspiring individual performances from a number of Gee-Gees.

Here’s who collected the virtual hardware:

Women’s Varsity MVP: Mikayla Morton, soccer  

Photo: Parker Townes/The Fulcrum

In her fourth year as a Gee-Gee, Mikayla Morton led the OUA in goals (17) and points (18).

Morton was a huge part of the Gee-Gees offence, scoring a number of decisive goals. She opened the scoring for the Gees in their OUA bronze medal game and scored in the FISU World Cup championship game.

The former University of Memphis forward established a team record in goals in 2019 and was named a USports First Team All-Canadian. She also earned the honour of being named the OUA East player of the year.  

This is the third year in a row that a player from the soccer team takes the Cavalry Award for women’s varsity MVP. Morton’s teammates Emma Lefebvre and Katherine Bearne won the award in 2018-19 and 2017-18 respectively.

Runner up: Madison Grant, women’s rugby 

Men’s Varsity MVP: Davide Casarin, swimming 

Photo: Yves Longpre/U of O Sports Services

Davide Casarin, a third-year swimmer for the Gee-Gees, had an incredible year in the pool. The Italian swimmer racked up the medals at the RSEQ championships, winning five gold medals and a silver to top it off. 

Casarin then went on to set the USports record in the 1,500-metre freestyle race with a time of 15:30.55, winning gold in the event at the USports Championships in British Columbia. The public and international affairs student also won gold in the 400-meter freestyle race, adding two silvers to his medal total and one bronze.

Casarin was a big part of the swimming team’s fifth-place finish at the USports championships. Overall, in his USports career, Casarin has won 11 medals on the national stage. 

Runner up: Calvin Epistola, men’s basketball 

Coach of the Year: Chelsea Grills, women’s hockey 

Photo: Bridget Coady/The Fulcrum

Tasked with taking over head coaching duties of the women’s hockey team hours before a game against the Montreal Carabins on home ice, Grills was not set up for success.

At the time when Grills took over, the women’s hockey team had only won one of their first four games. Grills won her first game at the held of the team, and then went on to lead the Gee-Gees to an 11-6 record.

Grills managed to successfully inject her style of play in the middle of the season and also led a very young team, with 12 rookies on the roster, to a franchise record-breaking six-game winning streak. 

Grills remains the interim coach of the team and it’s still unclear what the future holds for her. However, director of Sports Services Sue Hylland did give her a vote of confidence after the teams’ elimination in the playoffs against McGill.

“Grills has done a fabulous job, that’s for sure,” said Hylland.

Honourable mentions: Patrick Grandmaitre (men’s hockey), Steve Johnson (women’s soccer), Dave Heinbuch (swimming)

Rookie of the Year: Aurelie Dubuc 

Photo: Greg Kolz/U of O Sports Services

As a freshman with the women’s hockey team, Dubuc took over a wide-open starting job after the departure of longtime goaltender Maude Levesque-Ryan.

Dubuc went 9-5 on the season with a 2.03 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage, good for third in RSEQ. 

She backstopped the majority of the wins in the team’s six-game winning streak and was a huge part of the program turnaround this year.  

Men’s Varsity Team of the Year: Hockey

Photo: Parker Townes/The Fulcrum

In the fourth season since the program’s re-inception, the men’s hockey team got over the hump known as the second round of the Queen’s Cup playoffs that they had been unable to get past in the last couple of years to make it all the way to the Queen’s Cup finals. 

Sadly things didn’t go the way of the garnet and grey in Guelph, as the Gryphons scored in triple overtime to win the Queen’s Cup 2-1.

The team qualified for the USports national championships in Halifax and dreamed of winning the David Johnston Cup for the first time in its history, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that dream.

Honourable mentions: basketball, swimming 

Women’s Varsity Team of the Year: Soccer

Photo: Parker Townes/The Fulcrum

The women’s soccer team had started the year with an amazing regular-season record of 12-0-2. The team led the OUA in all major offensive and defensive categories.

Sadly the team was upset by York University in the OUA semifinals and was unable to qualify for the USports championships. 

Nonetheless, Steve Johnson’s troops kept their heads high headed to China to play in the inaugural FISU world Cup. The ladies in garnet and gray went 5-0 and brought the top honours back to Ottawa. 

Honourable mentions: rugby, basketball, track and field 

Club of the Year: Men’s volleyball 

Photo: Courtesy of Colin Walker

The men’s volleyball team was dominant this year in their league, finishing the season with a near-perfect record and winning the biggest tournament they took part in. There, Ottawa handily earned the championship title.

“During the game, it was definitely a lot of fun, you could tell everyone was playing at their best and we won pretty easily,” said Yacine Amalou. “The best was definitely after the game, bringing the banner home, winning this cup for the first time in our team’s history, and to think that I really did spend five years chasing that championship is crazy.”

“From my first year on the team, ending the season 1-25, to my third year going 22-4, to this year where we won the biggest tournament of our season is just unreal,” Amalou added. 

Honourable mentions: Rowing varsity club, men’s varsity golf club, men’s soccer club, women’s ultimate frisbee team 

—with files from Jasmine McKnight