Breaking down the best U of O successes of the year
The 2018 Gee-Gees year was full of memorable moments.
In honour of the year in review, here are the top five moments for University of Ottawa teams, athletes, and alumni.
Women’s soccer brings home gold
The Gee-Gees women’s soccer season was—from the outset—a remarkable one.
The team set the tone for how its season would go early on, dominating teams like Trent, Ryerson, and Laurentian to start. The only team to really trouble them in these early matches were the Nipissing Lakers—whom the Gees drew against, and later suffered their only loss of the season against.
Nevertheless, they didn’t let that stop them as they rolled to a 14-1-1 regular season record.
The striker Emma Lefebvre shone in particular, leading the OUA conference in goals and overall points for weeks on end. She ended the season fourth in goals with 11, and second in points with 18.
The Gees carried their regular-season momentum through the playoffs and never looked back, culminating in their 2-1 victory over the Trinity Western Spartans to win the U Sports gold medal. Midfielder Miranda Smith got the game-winner for her team. This sealed their victory and brought gold to the U of O for the first time in soccer since 1996.
Breaking the Panda streak
Having lost four straight Panda Games, it was safe to say the Gees football team was on the hunt for some revenge.
It finally came when they beat Carleton 38-27 in the 50th edition of the historic game, snapping that streak and bringing Pedro home.
The game began with a trick play on a gutsy play call from Ravens head coach Steve Sumarah, when the receiver Quinton Soares took the toss and threw it downfield to a wide-open Dominic Walker, who took it in for the touchdown on the first play of the game.
This did not daunt the Gee-Gees, who were able to quickly come back and teach the Ravens a lesson.
The defensive side intercepted Ravens quarterback Michael Arruda four times, while U of O first-year quarterback Sawyer Buettner had his best game up to that point with four touchdown passes.
While Carleton tried to mount a late comeback after being down 38-14, it was not to be. This year, Ravens fans had to sit and watch the Gee-Gees’ faithful storm the field at TD Place.
It was part of a strong season for the U of O that ultimately concluded in a second-round playoff exit, but nonetheless was one of the great moments of 2018.
Men’s hockey squad knock Ravens out of the nest
In addition to their victory in the Panda Game, the Gee-Gees also had success versus their cross-town rivals in hockey.
The men’s hockey team—playing in just its second season back on the ice since the two-year suspension—knocked off the Ravens in three games in the quarterfinals of the OUA playoffs in late February.
It was a hard-fought series for both teams, with Carleton taking the first game 3-2 in electric overtime fashion.
The Gees were not phased, coming back in Game Two to blow out the Ravens 5-0.
This forced a tie-breaking Game Three, where the winner would move on to the semifinals.
The all-star Kevin Domingue opened up the scoring for the Garnet and Grey, followed up by Brendan Jacome.
It was Cody Drover who got what turned out to be the game and series-winner at the end of the second period, beating Ravens goaltender Francois Brassard with the wrist-shot.
From there, the Gee-Gees advanced to the semifinals, losing to the McGill Redmen. Nevertheless, beating out the rivals in three stunning games was one of the great moments of the year.
Evans races to silver, sets the record
The Gee-Gees were also successful on the track, with distance runner Stephen Evans in particular lighting it up.
The fifth-year runner brought home the U Sports silver medal in the 600 m race with a time of 1:19:50 in early March.
He also set the record for University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ runners with a 600 m time of 1:18:30 earlier in the season at the Louis-Riel Dome.
While the 2018-19 season has gotten underway for the track team, there’s still plenty of time to go to make it back to the podium.
Ward wins everything
If anyone defines what it means to be a Gee-Gees alumnus, it’s Lewis Ward.
The ex-U of O kicker finished his outstanding university career in record-setting fashion with 89 field goals hit in total. That was the most in OUA history—let alone program history. He was just shy of the all-time U Sports career total of 91.
After finishing his Gee-Gees career, he signed with the Ottawa Redblacks in early January. After a training camp battle, he fought his way to the position of starting placekicker—his specialty.
In the 2018 season, he set numerous records. The first to knock down was Luca Congi’s record of 21 consecutive field goals made by a rookie. Ward hit 22 straight in his first professional season, but wasn’t done there.
He went on to smash the consecutive field goal record for all players with 33, going on to make a whopping 44 straight field goals.
This earned him the Most Outstanding Rookie and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player on his way to a Grey Cup appearance.
Unfortunately for Lewis and his team, they lost the game to the Calgary Stampeders, but nevertheless 2018 was a series of great moments for the Gee-Gees alumnus.