Women’s rugby, men’s hockey and women’s soccer all dominant in 2019-20
As the Fulcrum’s 2019-20 publication cycle comes to a close, take a trip with us down memory lane at the Gee-Gees stories that shaped the University of Ottawa this academic year.
We look back at the women’s soccer team’s historic win in China, the Tramayne Stephen touchdown that changed the Panda Game, the women’s hockey teams’ record-breaking win streak, and Calvin Epistola’s heroic free throws that helped win the Capital Hoops Classic.
The Gee-Gees defeated the Carleton Ravens 32-10 at the 2019 Panda Game, claiming victory in front of an ecstatic 24,000 fans at TD Place. Longtime jeopardy host and U of O alumnus Alex Trebek performed an emotional coin toss amid his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Defensive lineman Tramayne Stephen scored his first USports touchdown, recovering a loose ball in the Carleton endzone for the Gee-Gees first touchdown of the game. Cambell Fair kicked for the extra point to tie the game at 10 in the third quarter.
Stephen was not the only defensive lineman to score a touchdown in the game, as Cedrik Perron recovered the ball off another Carleton fumble and raced to the Carleton endzone to give the Gees an 18-10 lead.
Jordan Burgher and Donald Shaw added touchdowns for the Gees, who took the game 32-10 and sent the garnet and grey faithful home drunk and happy.
The U of O women’s rugby team faced off against the Laval University Rouge et Or in Quebec City for the RSEQ championships in October. Having lost the previous two meetings with the Rouge et Or this year 28-17 and then 32-0, nobody gave the Gees much of a chance in the finals to beat Laval. But experienced and battle-proven, the Gees came out swinging and showed the rest of the RSEQ just why they’ve been so dominant in the past six years.
Less than five minutes into the game, Gees second-row player Michaela Haley grabbed the ball from a pile-up near the Laval endzone and managed to run about three yards for the first try of the game. Later in the half, Clair Gallagher kicked a field goal to make it 8-0.
Laval came back — and thanks to two quick tries — took a 12-8 lead into the half. Ottawa would roar back in the second half. Anna Dodge scored two tries, Gallagher kicked a field goal and the Gees got back on track. The Gee-Gees took a 25-15 lead and would hold on to win the game.
The U of O rowing club had a strong showing at the OUA championships. The women’s novice eight-plus (eight rowers and a coxswain) came second in Ontario, while the men’s novice four-plus (four rowers and a coxswain) came first in the province.
As for the varsity team results, the men’s two-plus came fifth, women’s four-plus came seventh, men’s four-plus came sixth, women’s eight-plus came fifth and the men’s lightweight two-plus came fifth.
The women’s novice eight-plus team was composed of Karolyn McGovern, Ines Auclair Manglair, Josie Chan, Mackenzie Lawson, Tyler Caldwell, Vienna Scholten, Carolina Maass, Rhiannon Crichton, and coxswain Jamie Hurlbut. They all won silver medals.
The men’s novice four-plus team was made up of Luther Edson, Morgan McManus, Tom Wunderlich, Ben Hicks, and coxswain Rebecca Therrien. They all took home gold medals.
The Gee-Gees defeated the Guelph Gryphons 33-17 to win the bronze medal at the USports women’s rugby national championships on home turf at Matt Anthony Field.
Ottawa opened the scoring thanks to a nice sweeping play by veteran Micheala Haley, playing her last rugby game with the university. Haley then passed the torch to rookie Meredith Sirrs, who scored moments later.
Another rookie who closed out her season on the right foot was Madison Grant, scoring the Gee-Gees third try of the first half.
Talia Hoffman scored for the Gryphons to make it 19-7 going into the second half. Guelph’s Brodie Schmidt opened the second half with a try as hail came down onto the field.
Alexandra Ondo provided the answer for the Gee-Gees, capping off her strong tournament with two important second-half tries for the Gee-Gees.
Guelph pushed and added a try before the end of the game.
The Gee-Gees won their second straight bronze medal. The Gees won gold back in 2017. With a ton of young talented players like Grant, Sirrs and Aurora Bowie, the Gee-Gees will look to repeat their 2017 feat in 2020.
Yanick Evola, the head coach of the U of O women’s hockey team, stepped down from his role after a 10-year tenure, just hours before an important home game against the Montreal Carabins on Nov. 8.
Former assistant coach Chelsea Grills was named interim head coach. Grills, a Stittsville native, had been with the team since 2017. She previously was an assistant coach with the McGill Martlets and Amherst College, a division three NCAA team.
The Gee-Gees were off to a tough start to the season, losing three of their first four games, with their only win coming against the weakest team in RSEQ, the Carleton Ravens. The team had an abysmal season in 2018-19, with a 6-14-0 record.
Evola now runs hockey schools in the Gatineau area.
After claiming a national title in 2018, the U of O women’s soccer team continued to be dominant in 2019. After earning bronze at the OUA championship, the Gees redeemed themselves in China, winning the FISU World Cup.
In pool play, the Gee-Gees came out on top. In their first two matchups, both Donghua University and the Siberian Federal University were shutout by U of O goaltender Margot Shore. To end pool play, the Gees beat the College of Asian Scholars 4-2.
That string of wins sent the Gee-Gees to the semi-finals, where they battled it out against Beijing Normal University for a chance to play for gold. The semi-final game was hard-fought on both sides, and after regulation, the score remained 0-0 and the teams headed to a shootout. The Chinese team scored three goals but Mikayla Morton, Thea Nour, Miranda Smith, Kaylane Hogue, and Angelina Gendreau all found the back of the net to give the U of O a 5-3 win.
Headed to the finals, the Gee-Gees had the opportunity to win the first-ever FISU World Cup. Adding to the feat was that to do so, they’d have to beat a team from Brazil, where soccer is a religion.
Paulista University had dominated in pool play and humiliated their semi-finals opponent. In fact, they had yet to have a goal scored against them in the tournament. The U of O did not seem phased by their opponents.
Just about a minute into play, Katherine Bearne prepped the ball for a corner kick. She sent the ball right in front of the Paulista University net, where Morton connected and sent the ball into the mesh. For the rest of the game, the pressure was on Paulista University to even up the score.
The U of O defence was solid, pressuring the ball anytime it was in their end of the field. Time eventually ran out for Paulista, and the Gee-Gees were crowned champions. The final score was 1-0 for the Gee-Gees, marking the end of the first FISU World Cup.
The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team pulled a major upset at the 2020 Capital Hoops Classic, edging out the nationally No.1 ranked Carleton Ravens 68-67 in a game for the ages at TD Place Arena.
With 9.2 seconds left on the clock, Epistola gave Ottawa a one-point lead on a free throw. Carleton was then unable to get the ball in the basket on their ensuing drive as the Gee-Gees held on to take the game.
Earlier that night, the women’s basketball team beat the Ravens to take their Capital Hoops game 77-75. The Gee-Gees made up an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Angela Ribarich put up a game-high of 24 points, Tyra Blizzard added 14, while Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus put up 12 for the Gee-Gees.
Feb. 9, 2020: Women’s hockey win streak goes to six
The women’s hockey team defeated the No. 1 nationally-ranked Concordia Stingers 3-1 on Feb. 9 in Montreal. The win broke the record for the longest winning streak in program history, beating the 2000-01 five-game win streak.
Sophie Gareau, Christine Deaudelin and Melina Roy scored the three goals for the Gee-Gees. Aurelie Dubuc was near perfect in the net, backstopping the Gees to a large upset.
It might have taken three overtime periods but the winner of the OUA championships was decided in Guelph, with the U of O men’s hockey team falling just short of their first-ever Queen’s Cup title. Ted Nichol found the back of the net for the Gryphons, putting an end to a tightly-contested affair.
Both teams were held off the board until the third period. Early in the period, Guelph’s Marc Stevens found the back of the Gee-Gees’ net, and seconds later Ottawa replied when Kevin Domingue buried home his own rebound to make it 1-1.
The first and second overtime periods proved to be scoreless, as both teams battled it out but netminders Domenic Graham and Andrew Masters were unbeatable. The 2019-20 final is the longest on record in OUA history.
The Gee-Gees were supposed to play in the USports national championships in Halifax but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the championships were cancelled.
Jamie Barresi, the head coach of the U of O’s football team, stepped down from his position after seven seasons at the helm of the team on March 20. During his tenure, Barresi led the Gee-Gees to a 36-27 record from 2013-19.
The Gee-Gees never advanced past the OUA semifinals with Barresi as head coach, and the Gee-Gees last trip to the Yate Cup Final goes back to 2010.
“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of the players that have been involved with the program for their superlative effort and dedication,” Barresi said in a press release posted on March 20. “I hope they will continue to challenge themselves and do the things they are most afraid of doing. They have given more to me than I can repay.”
Barresi, who is from Hamilton, Ont., was a Gee-Gees quarterback from 1976-79. He started his coaching career as part of the Gee-Gees’ coaching staff from 1981-83 and went on to spend 20 seasons coaching in the NCAA. Barresi then returned to Canada to coach in the CFL, making three Grey Cup appearances over nine years, including a win in 2006.
Sports Services’ search for a new head coach continues.
—with files from Jasmine McKnight & Moira Wilson