An X-Ceptional Year of Sport

 
 

X-Men and X-Women reach new heights

A total of 14 varsity teams from a wide array of sport competed in the AUS and proudly donned the white & blue this school year. It was a year filled with highs (Rugby national championship) and lows (winless X-Women Basketball team) but enthralling nonetheless. Here is a brief rundown on each team’s season.

Soccer: After finishing fourth at the end of the regular season, the X-Women had a valiant run in the AUS postseason, falling in agonizing fashion in the final 1-0 to Cape Breton. The semifinal was a nail biter, as the team prevailed in extra time after a dramatic penalty kick goal at the death. Two players, striker Kelsey Ellis and midfielder Mercy Miles were honoured with second-team All Canadian spots at the end of the season.

For the men, it was another difficult ending to the season. For the second straight year, rival UNB Reds dispatched the X-Men in the semifinals. This time, it was 2-1 in extra time. AUS all-star and last season’s U Sports Player of The Year Dan Hayfield had a penalty kick to tie it in the extra frame, only for it to be turned aside. In brighter news, Hayfield and defender Josh Read were named to the All Canadian Second Team, while Ayoub Al Arabi was named to the All-Rookie team. Captain Liam Elbourne was bestowed the prestigious honour of being named a Rhodes Scholar. He was the number one ranked student in the Business Administration program with an average of 94.25%! The Scholarship enables him to attend the hallowed Oxford University in England.

Football: A victory in the AUS Loney Bowl was the highlight of the year, buoyed by Kaion Julien Grant, a potential top ten pick in the CFL draft which is happening on May 2. Fourth year Jordan Socholotiuk was the only back in U Sports to rush for 1000 yards. The season ended with a 63- 0 loss in the National Semifinal to the eventual champions Laval Rouge et Or.

X-Women Rugby: Running out of superlatives to describe this team, as it was another dominating year. The team wrapped up its sixth U Sports National Championship, winning against the Guelph Gryphons 41-24. Prop Joanna Alphonso was the catalyst for the team, as she was honoured with Female Athlete of the Year at StFX’s Athletic Banquet this past weekend. They also won their 20th AUS championship, when they defeated vaunted rivals Acadia handily by a score of 31-7.

Cross-Country: In the first year of Eric Gillis’s tenure as head coach of the Cross-Country program, both teams finished 12th at the National Championship in Kingston, Ontario. Rachel MacDougall was the first of the X-Women to cross the line, 55th overall.

The highlight of the year on the women’s side was the first place showing at the Moncton Invitational in October. They had six of the top 11 places. They also came second in the AUS championships in another fantastic team performance with four athletes in the top 10.

The men took home the AUS banner, with Angus Rawling winning his second straight gold medal. Alex Nueffer won bronze and Paul Maclellan was hot on his heels, finishing fourth. Rawling was also honoured with AUS male cross-country athlete of the year. The team also had a podium sweep at the Moncton Invitational with Rawling, Nueffer and Maclellan finishing one-two-three respectively.

Basketball: It was a year of intrigue for both basketball teams, as the men finished 7-13 on the year, and was able to claim the last playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. However, they were dispatched by Cape Breton in the AUS quarterfinals by a score of 89-66. After the year, it was reported that former X-Men player Tyrell Vernon will be taking over the head coach position in two years from Steve Konchalski, ending his mammoth tenure at the program.

On the women’s side, it was a disappointing first year for Head Coach Lee Anna Osei, as the team went 0-20. She was controversially suspended for the tail-end of the season after a report came out that showed bruising on a player’s arms after a ‘disciplinary measure’ during practice. She will resume head coach duties next year and will be helped by Vernon, who will be acting as an associate coach for the next two years on both basketball teams.

Track and Field: The teams had 11 athletes compete at nationals in Winnipeg. Prior to that, the women finished second at the AUS championships and the men placed third.

Throughout the season, a plethora of school records was also broken: Fifth-year Tim Brennan set a new 600m record with a time of 1:20.05. Angus Rawling followed up his successful cross-country season with a record in the 3000m of 8.03.34. This broke his own record that he set last season. Kirishnia Cooper took the record of triple jump with 13.14m. Relay teams in the 4x200 and 400 also set new records, and those teams featured Brennan, Adrian Kinney, Eric Sutton and Brad Barclay.

For the women, Jane Hergett took the 600m record at 1.33.96. The 4x800m relay team of Zoe Johnston, Paige Chisholm, Aidan MacDonald and Hana Marmura ran a time of 9.29.31 to set a new record.

Hockey: After a great regular season, the X-Women’s season came to an emotional end in the AUS finals, as they lost the final game of the best of three series 2-1 to the St. Thomas Tommies. Star Defender Lindsey Donovan was honoured with a selection on the All Canadian U Sports First Team. Gearing up for next season the team also announced the additions of two assistant coaches and locals to Antigonish: Trevor MacIssac and Bryan Smith.

It was a rollercoaster of epic proportions for the men’s team. In the final month of the regular season, a massive brawl-- provoked by a player on Acadia -- dominated the headlines. 

The team had to deal with suspensions and tough injuries heading into the posteasosn. Luckily, they got hot at the right time and were able to come away with a bronze medal at the U Sports Championship, dispatching the Saskatchewan Huskies 5-1. 

 

Athletic Banquet Honours Outstanding Achievements

 
 

Joanna Alphonso & Kaion Julien-Grant named StFX student-athletes of the year

On the evening of Thursday, April 4, members of the StFX Athletics community were honoured as guests to the annual athletic banquet. The banquet is held each year to celebrate and honour the accomplishments of the StFX athletic department. This includes the accomplishments of not only athletes, but also coaches and staff including athletic therapists and managers.

The banquet was held the the Charles V. Keating Memorial Centre, where guests took part in a cocktail hour, a nutritious dinner (chicken with the sauce), a number of entertaining sketches by the hosts, and compelling speeches by many highly regarded members of the community.

To begin the athletic banquet ceremony was an amusing video featuring the two hosts, Joanna Alphonso of X-Women Rugby and Albert Banahene of X-Men Football. In the video, the hosts parodied a bunch of popular late night game segments, such as Cash Cab, Carpool Karaoke, and Spill your Guts or Fill your Guts. The contestants of the games were noteworthy athletes and familiar faces to the StFX sports community.

After the video, Alphonso and Banahene proceeded to the stage to introduce themselves, crack some jokes and lead guests through the night ahead. The funniest of jokes was when Alphonso announced that the football and rugby teams would be hitting the buffet first, only to psych the teams out and have them go last for the sake of having enough food for everyone else.

All rookies to have used their first year of eligibility were each given a pin to recognize their new achievement. These pins also serve as a rite of passage for these rookies as new members to StFX athletics.

Afterwards, teams whose accolades included winning an AUS banner were honoured. Countless Wooden Trophies each carved in the shape of “X,” were distributed to every winner of AUS in 2018-2019. This included the massive football team, X-Men Cross Country, and X-Women Rugby.

X-Women Rugby members were not only honoured with the classic wooden trophies, but were also finally given their National Championship rings. Early in the academic year, the women clinched gold at the 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championships. Members were finally given their flashy rings to celebrate this incredible accomplishment. The rings featured a large centered blue X, and engravings of the game’s final score (41-24 against Guelph Gryphons), players’ last name, StFX Rugby, and lastly, the team’s motto going into the tournament, “Kill the Bird.”

There was also a large volume of awards granted to many well deserving and hard working members of StFX athletics. Of the various awards were StFX Female Student-Athlete of the year, StFX Male Student-Athlete of the year, StFX Female Community X-Cellence award, and the StFX Male Community X-Cellence award. The winners of these awards were Joanna Alphonso herself, X-Men Football receiver Kaion Julien-Grant, X-Women Soccer player Kelsey Ellis, and Track & Field athlete Riley Jennings respectively.

Alphonso was named the StFX Female Student-Athlete of the Year. She is in her first year of education and her fifth year of eligibility. Throughout her time as prop on the StFX Rugby team, Alphonso was an exemplary leader, dedicated teammate, and hard worker. From Ajax, Ontario, Alphonso was an AUS All Star for all five years of her career. She has also been an U SPORTS All-Canadian for four straight years. As X-Women Rugby brought home its sixth national championship banner, Alphonso brought home her third. Alphonso achieved U SPORTS All-Star status this year for her second time, and she is the sixth overall highest scorer in AUS Women’s Rugby history. This placement is behind four StFX rugby alumni, including Olympian Ghislaine Landry, Courtnay Malcolm, Magali Harvey, and Sabrina McDaid.

Photo:  goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

Photo: goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

X-Men football receiver Julien-Grant received StFX Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors. Julien-Grant is a fourth year human kinetics student. Reigning from Toronto, Ontario, he is one of StFX’s most highly recognized receivers of all time. Julien-Grant led the AUS conference with 49 receptions this season, yielding an average of 6.1 receptions per game. His receiving yards came to a total of 638, and had five receiving touchdowns this year. Julien Grant has been they key cog in X-Men Football’s three AUS wins in the last four years. He has been honoured as AUS conference MVP and a conference all-star as both receiver and kick returner. Not only that, he also claimed U SPORTS first team all-Canadian honours for his third year in both offense and special teams. Julien Grant is the StFX Football leader in all-purpose yards with 4,563, which puts him at sixth from the top in the AUS.

Photo: goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

Photo: goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

The StFX Female Community X-Cellence award was awarded to Kelsey Ellis of X-Women soccer. Ellis is a fourth year human kinetics student from Ottawa, Ontario. Ellis has a remarkable array of accomplishments that made her an excellent candidate for this award. She was co-president of the StFX chapter of Obesity Canada, volunteer at L’Arche Antigonish, volunteer at StFX Fit 4 Life, volunteer at St. Martha’s hospital, coaching young boys soccer, and assisted with the Motor Activities at X program. While taking on these roles, Ellis championed the “OneTeam” initiative, a program for varsity athletes to work with local athletes with disabilities and promote peer mentorship. As an assistant at the Motor Activated at X program, she provided programming for an adult with lower neuron disease. On top of all these responsibilities and commitments, Ellis was able to remain a U SPORTS academic All-Canadian for her three years of study, and be honoured as a U SPORTS second team all-Canadian and an AUS first team all-star.

Riley Jennings from X-Men track & field was the winner of the StFX Male Community X-Cellence award. Classmate to both Ellis and Julien-Grant, Jennings is also a fourth year human kinetics student. He is in his third year of eligibility as a thrower for StFX track & field. From Debert, Nova Scotia, Jennings has involved himself in an impressive and commendable amount of activities in the community. Like Ellis, Jennings also volunteered with the Motor Activities at X program. He also contributed to the Autism learn to skate/swim program, and volunteers at StFX Fit 4 Life and Fit 4 Tots. He also coached throwing to local high school athletes within the community, was facilitator for the Antigonish Multisport program and assisted with the creation of the inclusive sledge hockey program at StFX. In track & field, Jennings won silver at AUS championships and set a new StFX record. He placed fifth at the AUS championship in shot put. Jennings is recognized as a Leader of Distinction by the StFX Leadership academy.

In addition to athletic awards, student therapists, strength & conditioning interns, and student managers for all teams were presented with plaques to show appreciation for their contributions this successful 2018-2019 season. The hope is that 2019-20 will be filled with even more banners!

 

Closing Out The Year With Seniority

 
 

X-Men finish the regular season on a high note

The AUS playoffs around the corner and their position locked in, our X-Men, ready to end the regular season off strong were focused on their final encounter against UPEI. They would end up winning 95-80 and closed out their series with UPEI  2-0, finishing the regular season 7-13. All of the starters scored in double digits with Thomas Legallais (13pts, 11rbs), Azaro Roker (13pts, 10rbs), and Daniel Passley (23pts, 11rbs) all netting double-doubles. This was Passley’s eighth double-double of the season.

For the seniors of the team Passley, Tristen Ross, and Brandon Velocci this would mark their last time throwing on the blue and white jerseys at home. Senior Night began with Coach K giving a speech and framed photographs to the seniors as a token of appreciation for their four/five-year contribution to the program. Playing in their last home game., there was nostalgic memories of games won and lost that would last a lifetime. Seniors Passley and Ross had a few things to say. “I was definitely taking it all in, the memories of many achievements and shortcomings; being grateful for all of the lessons they taught me. I was real anxious and nervous to give the rookies a chance to taste the experience of AUS playoff basketball. I felt that as a captain and senior, I owed them that,” Passley stated. As for Ross, he shared similar sentiments preparing for the game. “Senior night was a celebration of all the time I had spent in that gym as a kid at X camp and my time here as a student. My Dad was in attendance that night which was special as he too played for Coach K, so really it was a celebration of that connection between us and Coach K. It was special.”

Ross returned after suffering a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder eight games earlier, making even the thought of shooting unbearable. He sadi he “spent the entire week in therapy just focusing on getting to play in my last game on Coach K court. Thankfully I was able to play with only some mild discomfort and credit goes out to our wonderful therapy staff here at school for helping me get there.”

Preceding the start of the game, our X-Men looked healthy and ready to play as they warmed up by throwing down some monstrous dunks, giving the fans a preview of what was to come. To start it off, the X-Men got the first points of the night to put them on the score board, already setting the pace for what was to be a high scoring game. From nice inside bounce passes to steals and two trips to the free throw line, the X-Men made it known that they meant business. They were spreading the floor, which allowed them to get into their sweet spots. However, they started to feel a little too comfortable by not closing out on the baseline and making lazy passes. They tried to shake it off with extra ball movement but found themselves idling on offence, forcing Coach K to call timeout. Legallais would shoot a floater in the last seconds of the quarter to beat the clock and put X up 17-11.

Shaking off the final minutes of the first quarter the X-men regained both offense and defense efficiency from the start of the game. Leading the way in the second quarter, the backcourt players forced a few steals essentially changing the pace from slow and controlled to a run- and- gun style basketball game that got everyone in the stands excited. Relentlessly pushing the ball and working it down low our X-Men compelled UPEI to take a time-out. Continuing the attack, Justin Andrew used his body to penetrate down low in the post for the and-one basket. Following that play Roker tried to catch a body with an attempted poster but was fouled. Four minutes left in the quarter a spark was lit under Jack MacAulay, a UPEI third-year guard who showed the X-Men that the game wasn’t over as he splashed heavily guarded  deep threes. This would be the X-Men’s highest scoring quarter with 30 points, ending the half 47-31 for the home team.

UPEI started the second half slow and were unable to get a flow going. With the X-Men’s cooperation and understanding of what needed to be done it was clear that the game was in their hands. Post-players Roker and Passley put in some work down low with Passley using his footworkto makr it look easy while Roker dunked on a player, getting redemption for his last attempt. UPEI then called timeout. The timeout was in vain as Ross scored two threes in a row and Andrew gave the fans a peak into his toolbag with a gorgeous euro-step for two. Nothing in the way of a W for the X-Men, it seemed the game was in the bag, until MacAulay scored back-to-back threes and added another one to end the quarter with X fans saying, “man can’t miss.” They would end the quarter up 73-61 with MacAulay finishing the night shooting 71% from the field and 77% from the three-point line.

In the final quarter UPEI was met with the same tougness by our X-Men. They showcased their versatility—with    the post-players setting screens for each other, popping out to the three-point line and Passley hitting a three. Roker’s athleticism was displayed with a rim-rattling dunk that left one young fan screaming, “it’s still shaking!” The game was getting more physical with players shoving and pulling jerseys. This led to Moshe Wadley of UPEI fouling out, putting Ross to the free throw-line and making both. Our X-Men saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and finished the game with a 95-80 victory.

Passley had a few last words for the X community. “I am very appreciative of the support from the community and everybody making me feel welcome here. Thank you to the fans, alumni and many other supporters who always made me feel upbeat no matter what. Win or lose, there was always love and support that I will always be thankful for.”

 

The Axemen Get Axed

 
 

Buzzer beating three keeps the X-Men alive in the fight for playoffs

On February 6, our X-Men basketball team were ready for battle when they faced off against the Acadia Axemen, winning a tough game 75-72 and ending their regular season matchup 2-0. In their second encounter against the Axemen, a familiar face to the town of Antigonish returned, the Axemen Forward Temitayo Shittu (Tayo) #21, who was a StFX Alumni and a former X-Men in his first year at StFX.

It was the second game in a row that Azaro Roker has missed due to a knee injury, however he’s very hopeful for a quick return and to reunite with his team. “Yeah my knee injury isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I got a bone scan, and everything was fine, there was just some swelling, I think that I’ll be playing by the time of the last game of the season.”

Playing the last placed team Acadia with only four more games left in the season, the X-Men had to use their home court advantage and leave it all on the court, as they played a hard and resilient game  throughout. This win over the Axemen on Wednesday would change the AUS standings, placing them above the Memorial Sea-Hawks and raising morale for the X-Men, in hopes of clinching a playoff spot and establishing themselves as AUS championship contenders.

To start off the game the X-Men were in a groove, with great inside passing coming from the guards and defensive rebounds (drb) from Daniel Passley, who padded his stat sheet for the night with 15 points (pts), 10 drbs, two assists (ast), one steal (stl) and one block (blk). The X-Men were able to convert their hustle into a few trips to the line. Unfortunately this wouldn’t last, with hurried attempts coming early in the shot clock, weak perimeter defence (allowing 11 three-point attempts) and Justin Andrew (#6) suffering a minor ankle injury early in the first. The X-Men would end the quarter  down 19-12.

Continuing their aggressive attacking offense in the second quarter the Axemen relentlessly penetrated down low through the baseline with their forwards, making cuts and switches. This allowed Tayo to sneak in eight easy points. The X-Men switched to play a zone defence, with its goal to close-out the perimeter gaps. However, they were unable to stop deep threes from Nick De Palma, who’s range in knocking down the long ball resembled NBA superstar Stephen Curry. De Palma would end the night shooting 66% from beyond the arc.

Not long after, the X-Men increased their intensity on defence and adjusted their strategy by executing a full-court press on Acadia, which immediately garnered results as they would force a shot clock violation. On the offensive end the Axemen continued to close out on defence, making it difficult for X to create good shots. With four minutes left on the clock and the shot clock running down Andrew was forced to take a deep three which he made while being fouled, giving him the four-point play. The X-Men ended the quarter strong with great ball movement and a slick behind the back pass from Nick McKee to Andrew for the three bomb. The X-Men ended the half with Acadia up 36-32 and the lead within their grasp.  

Starting out the third, the X-Men played unusually bad defence which allowed Acadia to walk right in for easy layups. However, X-Men post player Daniel Passley brought out his bag of tricks and with tight “D” on him threw up a nice sky hook to close the gap to 38-40. With a switch in lineup, the X-Men had three guards which made it a run-and-gun game, allowing for more ball movement and flexibility on the court. This led to more opportunities to make some triples.  The lead was within reach and tensions were rising as the big men were aggressive and muscling through contact in the post. They began shoving each other to claim dominance down low with Atik Gilao yelling “You can’t guard me” after being fouled.

Trailing 50-51 to Acadia the X-Men remained strong on both ends of the court, with great cutting, switches on offence and playing a united help defence this would be the turning point for X, with Tristan Ross #5 sacrificing his body for the charge. On the next play Passley used his footwork beautifully on a bounce step that led to a ferocious dunk. The energy was palpable in the arena and not long after, X-Men forward McKee went up for a board but was viciously fouled and put into a headlock by Tayo, which led to both teams getting in the middle of the altercation and separating the two players. They both received technical fouls, which led to Tayo fouling out.

As pressure was rising the X-Men responded admirably by playing their slow and controlled game, with Ross and McKee each draining deep threes when X needed it the most. Up by one and the X-Men in control of the ball, the guards worked it in the post, passing it to Passley who was then fouled. He made both free throws, putting X up 3. Acadia’s guard De Palma, who made his presence felt in the 1st half, drained another three pointer which  tied the game with six seconds left. Time was running out and Andrew fought through contact getting the ball down the court. He displayed his court vision and playmaking ability by passing it to Jayden Smith #4 in the corner, who ultimately sealed the victory with a clutch buzzer beating 3 that Coach K said, “was the best assist all season.”

 

X-Men Football Athletes of the Week

 
 

Burnham gets second recognition in a row following a stellar overtime victory

X-Men Football Offensive Player of the Week

X-Men receiver Kaion Julien-Grant was named the StFX Football Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 31, 2018. Kaion, a 4th year Human Kinetics student from Toronto, scored two touchdowns in the X-Men’s 30-24 overtime win over Acadia Friday night. He caught an 18 yard pass late in the second quarter and a 25 yard pass in double coverage at the start of the 4th quarter. Kaion had 10 receptions for 109 yards in the game and 230 all-purpose yards with his 77 yards on 4 kick-off returns and 44 yards on 8 punt returns. 

X-Men Football Offensive Player of the Week

X-Men defensive back Dylan Bell was named the StFX Football Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 31, 2018. Dylan, a 1st year Education student (5th year eligibility) from Brockville, Ont. came up huge on the X-Men defense in their overtime win over Acadia on Friday night. Dylan led all tacklers in the game with 12, including 10 solo tackles. He also had a break-up and one tackle for a loss of 2 yards. 

X-Men Football Special Teams Player of the Week

X-Men kicker/punter Kieran Burnham was named the StFX Football Special Teams Player of the Week for the week of Aug. 31, 2018. Kieran, a 4th year Arts student (3rd year eligibility) from Cambridge, Ont. played a big impact in the X-Men’s overtime win over Acadia, racking up 393 yards on 9 punts and 228 yards on 4 kick-offs for a punting average of 43.7 and a kick-off average of 57.0. Five of his punts were inside the 20 and Kieran also kicked three extra TD points in the win.

Photo: goxgo.ca

Photo: goxgo.ca

 

Your Fall Guide to Sports at StFX

Athletic events occurring in September for students to attend

As the new school year comes into focus, so too does university sport, and StFX is not short on great athletic teams. 

Men’s soccer gets their regular season started with a three-game homestead starting September 8. Moncton, UNB and Cape Breton come to town for these matches. StFX looks to avenge their semi-final loss to Cape Breton from a year ago. That Caper team ended up winning the national championship, besting the Montreal Carabins. Expect a tight battle, as both vie for first place in the conference.

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On the women’s side, the squad looks to better their fifth place showing in the AUS a year ago. Their games are played preceding the men’s. One interesting note is that the coach of the soccer program: Graham Kennedy, coaches both the men and women.  

The inevitable beast that is X-Women rugby, begins their assault on the AUS competition at home against Saint Mary’s on September 7. Last year the team finished with a perfect 6-0 record, however they were bested in the semi-finals of the national event by Laval. The Rugby program is the most storied in StFX athletics, having claimed a mesmerizing 19 of the last 20 AUS titles, and four national championships since 2010.

StFX football has already begun, and it began with an unfortunate loss against St Mary’s. Luckily, our home opener is August 31 in a game against our vaunted rival, the Acadia Axemen. The team looks to improve upon it’s .500 record last year, and the hope is that they can get some key contributions from their rookies, as well as improvement from all returnees. The biggest game of the season is Homecoming, on September 29 vs. Saint Mary’s. This is the day all students, past and present cram into the bleachers to see the fired-up X-Men compete. 

StFX cross country had a surprisingly efficient 2017 campaign, buoyed by Angus Rawlings, who won the 10km event last season. The teams will be under new leadership, with Olympian Eric Gillis taking over the head coaching duties. The season begins September 15 in UPEI, followed by StFX’s own invitational on the 22 of September. 

On the ice, both teams get their regular season going in the beginning of October. However, there will be some preseason events taking place. September 18, the men’s team play Moncton in the Auxiliary Arena, followed by a matchup against Saint Mary’s on the 29, taking place in the local Antigonish Arena. On the women’s side, expect back to back nights of games on the 21 and 22 of September in the Auxiliary Arena, as they face off against Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s. 

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On the hardwood, both basketball teams have their regular season begin the first week of November. StFX hosts their own invitational tournament in the preseason, on October 5 and 6, with the women’s event on October 12 and 13. 

Track and Field does not begin until late November, with a meet in Gagetown, NB on the 24. 

StFX has more than just varsity athletic events, as they have a slew of recreational athletic teams. Curling, baseball, cheerleading, dance, field hockey, lacrosse, men’s rugby, rowing, swimming, equestrian, badminton and ultimate frisbee. The mens rugby team has had a very successful run, and the curling team has also held it’s own against other AUS programs. Cheerleading is a staple at football matches, while the rowing club has consistently produced solid outings, that is if you are ok with waking up at 4am! Keep an eye out at society night for the sign ups for these sports, and if you are feeling extra ambitious, create your own sport society. 

For more information regarding StFX athletics, please visit goxgo.ca 

StFX Basketball: A year of surprise and disappointment

 
 

Men are riding high off a great playoff run, while the women struggle for relevance after another poor year

After ending the regular season 5th overall in the AUS with a 9-11 record, another mediocre season for Coach Konchalski seemed to be the result. However, the team got hot at the right time in the playoffs and was able to knock off Acadia in the quarters, then number one seeded Dalhousie in the semi’s. The final was a gut wrenching, tough game that saw UNB eke out an 84-81 win, ending the season for StFX. Kevin Bercy, who competed for team Canada over the summer during the Universiade in Chinese Taipei, had a vicious 33-point effort in his final game ever for the X-Men. 

For the Women, it was a fourth straight year in the cellar of the AUS standings. It was also back to back years of a 1-19 record. The team has been a combined 10-70 in the last four years. At the crux of the issue is the lack of a true star on the team. The leading scorer on the year was freshman guard Kimberly Kingsbury at 7.3 PPG. Kingsbury was also named the AUS all rookie team this year. Luckily, the team is very young, as only one player graduates this year. With another year together, the hope is to claw out of last place, and become a team that is feared by others. The bereft of talent this year will hopefully decrease through another year of skill development. 

In his sixth year as head coach, Augy Jones was attempting to bring the team back to what he had in his first two seasons, which were back-to-back AUS final appearances. The recruitment of point guard Lucia Mackay for next year will hopefully form a potent tandem with Kingsbury. Unfortunately, he will not be around to see it, as he was relieved of his coaching duties on Monday March 12th. There is hope for growth from Center Katie MacIntosh, who at 6’2 provides size that the team clearly lacks. Having a consistent presence in the paint from Katie would help accentuate the strengths of the guards, most notably shooting. The team will have to count on leadership from impending seniors Jamie McCarron and Holly Scott, who were also second and third in scoring for the team. 

It is the end of an era for the men’s team, as the team loses it’s top two players, Julius Antoine and Kevin Bercy. Antoine averaged 17-4-3 on the year, while Bercy had 16.8 pts and 9.2 rebound averages. Center anchor Cameron Walker is also graduating, along with fifth year point guard Davonte Provo. 

The reigns of the team will be most likely handed to third year sharpshooter Tristen Ross, who averaged a scintillating 39.2% on threes this year. The emergence of freshman Point Guard Jaydan Smith this year gives the team a consistent presence at the one position for years to come. Sophomore guard Justin Andrew has also impressed this year, including a rollicking 29 point/7 three performance in the semi-finals against defending champion Dalhousie. High flying forward Azaro Roker will have to find consistency next year, as he will be tasked with more minutes. 

With a new court, and upgrades to the Oland Center on the horizon, there is an anticipation for an increase in recruitment for both teams. Coach Konchalski will be entering his 43rd season next year and for many, the monotony of a coach’s style can wear down players and desensitize the fans, something that K will be trying to fend off, as his retirement looms on the horizon. Augy Jones’ replacement has yet to be named, though the search for a new head coach has already begun.

 

Another year, another dominant StFX hockey team

 
 

As the AUS regular season winds down in ice hockey, there is a familiar site at the top of the standings. StFX is off to another rollicking season as they have garnered a 19-1-4 record on the year, good for second in the AUS, behind University of New Brunswick. 

Jagger Dirk is the key cog on the Defense, with 22 points on the year for the senior from Penticton, BC. Dirk was a former player for the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League. He had a very successful five-year career with them, contributing 48 points in his final year with the junior club. In his fourth year with StFX, Dirk has solidified himself as the number one Defenseman in the AUS, as he has already surpassed last year’s point total by nine. 

The three-headed monster of Holden Cook, Matt Needham and Michael Clarke have provided timely scoring, contributing eight game winning goals on the year. 

Oshawa born Cook is the leading the team in points, with 29. Prior to StFX, Cook was a shut-down forward for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. His point scoring was modest at best in the OHL, but StFX has provided a unique opportunity for him to flourish. 

Ontario-born Clarke, along with Needham, are tied for second on the team with 27 points. 

Leading the way in goal has been second year Halifax native Chase Marchand. He is leading the league in both save percentage (.931) and goals against average (2.10). 

The X-Men is led by head coach Brad Peddle. He is in his 13th year at the helm of StFX. He previously played for StFX as a student from 1995-1999. Through his guidance, the team has rattled off 12 consecutive AUS playoff appearances, including five University Cup championship appearances. He is still looking for an elusive national championship, which would be the first since 2004, coached under Danny Flynn. 

Peddle stressed the importance of garnering character players for the team. “We really try to recruit guys who will buy in to what StFX is about and will fit into the culture that we have created. Great People, great students and great hockey players.” 

StFX is locked in a two-horse battle for first in AUS this year with UNB. The squads have split the season series so far at two-a-piece. StFX has bested UNB in the past two AUS finals, however it was UNB who defeated StFX in the 2016 National Championship, which took place in Halifax. They are also victors from the year after, defeating the University of Saskatchewan. StFX is hungry for another crack at the defending champions, should they play in the playoffs. Luckily, the team is laden with good, experienced character players, with many of them having played in that heartbreaking final in 2016. 

“X and UNB seemed to have played against each other for as long as I remember in the playoffs. And at the end of the day, it is just two good hockey programs bringing out the best in one another.”

Coach Peddle had the opportunity to coach the U Sports All Star team in December, as they played two games against the Canadian World Junior team. The team defeated Team Canada in back to back matches. Holden Cook, Jagger Dirk and Michael Clarke were all selected for the team. 

On the experience, Peddle commented: “Players didn’t know each other very well so we had to try to bring them together quickly. This year we did some team building activities in hope that it paid off, and it did!” He was an assistant coach with the team the previous year. 

With six games left on the year, the team looks to garner a number one spot in the AUS Playoffs. The final two home games are against Dalhousie and Moncton on the 2nd and 3rd of February.