U SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW | SPARTANS AIMING FOR SIXTH NATIONAL TITLE

U SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW | SPARTANS AIMING FOR SIXTH NATIONAL TITLE

WINNIPEG – The 2017 campaign was once again one of history-making proportions for the Trinity Western women’s soccer team.

Coming off its first-ever undefeated regular season in 2016, the Spartans made history again in 2017 with an unprecedented defensive run that saw TWU rewrite the Canada West record books. After dropping two of their first three games of the season and allowing seven goals along the way, a young defensive and midfield core launched what would become a conference record 10-match shutout streak, in which the Spartans went 924 minutes without conceding a goal.

Having already locked up first place in the Pacific Division with a 10-3-1 record, the Spartans allowed two of goals in a season-ending contest with UBC, before going right back to work in the post-season, giving up just one goal in three outings en route to winning the program’s seventh Canada West title. The playoff run also saw TWU earn a place in the Canada West championship final for the ninth time in the last 10 years.

Now, the Spartans enter the U SPORTS Championship with eyes on making a return to the gold medal match and, for the first time since 2013, winning it all.

In 2016, TWU missed the national championship final for the first time since 2011 – a run in which the Spartans played in the U SPORTS gold medal match in four consecutive years. With llast year’s overtime loss to UOIT in the quarter-finals still fresh in the minds of the Spartans, this year’s group is hungrier than ever to get back to the top of the mountain.

GOALKEEPERS
As the lone graduating player amongst TWU’s starting lineup, Christina Oliverio (Calgary) has been a pillar of goaltending strength this year. In the 11 regular season games she played, Oliverio earned eight clean sheets while giving up just six goal. In the post-season, she was just as formidable, as she earned shutouts in the quarter-finals and semifinals and allowed just one goal in the Canada West final. She is the only current Spartan to have won a national title, as she was part of the 2013 championship-winning squad. As a starter, she backstopped TWU to a Canada West championship and a U SPORTS silver medal in 2014. Backup goalie Rachel Sydor (Tsawwassen, B.C.) started three games this year, earning two shutout wins.

DEFENDERS
As evidenced by the Spartans record-setting shutout streak, TWU’s back line quickly developed into one of the best defending groups in the country. While the back four has just eight years of combined U SPORTS experience, they have been nothing short of exceptional since the second week of the season. When fielding its regular starting back line, TWU has allowed just one goal in its last 13 games, including the post-season. Third-year Brooklyn Tidder (White Rock, B.C.), who was named a Canada West Second Team All-Star for the first time in her career, is the ‘veteran’ of the group and has been a standout at centre-back for the Spartans all year. Tidder is joined by second-year Elizabeth Hicks (Langley, B.C.) in the middle of the defensive line, while on the outside, second-year Kristen Sakaki (Burnaby, B.C.) and Aliya Coy (Calgary) have been lock down defenders all season long.

MIDFIELDERS
The middle of the park has long been a strength for the Spartans for years and the 2017 season has been no different. With captain Jenaya Robertson (Delta, B.C.) joined by defender-turned-midfielder Amy Gartke (Edmonton), who was a Canada West Second Team All-Star this year, and Kathleen Chin (Calgary), the Spartans have a midfield contingent that can rival any team in U SPORTS. All three have an extremely high work rate and consistently lead the Spartans both defensively and pushing forward. The Spartans defensive record this year is in large part due to the play of TWU’s midfielders, while at the same time, the success of the team’s offensive attack is a direct correlation to the midfielder ability to win balls and quickly move into the offensive third. The trio combined for 10 goals and five assists during the regular season.

FORWARDS
Up front, the Spartans have a four-pronged attack that comes with speed, speed and more speed. The duo of Rachel Hutchinson (Cloverdale, B.C.) and Seina Kashima (Burnaby) has given the opposition fits all year. The third-year Hutchinson finished the regular season with seven goals and five assists before adding three goals and an assist in three playoff games. The fourth-year Kashima, who was named a Canada West First Team All-Star this year, had a team-leading eight assists to go with four goals in the regular season. Her efforts also saw her tie the Canada West career mark for assists, with 27. While Hutchinson and Kashima tied for the team lead in points, with 12 apiece, Danae Derksen (Delta, B.C.), who finished with six goals and two assists, and Kathryn Harvey (Coquitlam, B.C.), who had four goals and two assists and was named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team, provide a variety of attacking options for the Spartans and a degree of depth that will no doubt become a factor during this weekend’s championship tournament.

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Nov. 8
All-Canadian Awards Banquet, 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT

Thursday, Nov. 9 (Quarter-finals)
No. 1 Laval vs. No. 8 Western, 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT (Match A)
No. 4 Cape Breton vs. No. 5 Victoria, 1:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. PT (Match B)
No. 3 Guelph vs. No. 6 Montreal, 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT (Match C)
No. 2 Trinity Western vs. No. 7 Manitoba, 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT (Match D)

Friday, Nov. 10
2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT – Match E – Consolation Semifinal – Loser Match A vs Loser Match B
5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT – Match F – Consolation Semifinal – Loser Match C vs Loser Match D

Saturday, Nov. 11
2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT – Match G – Championship Semifinal – Winner Match A vs Winner Match B
5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT – Match H – Championship Semifinal – Winner Match C vs Winner Match D

Sunday, Nov. 12
11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT – Match I – Consolation Final – Winner Match E vs Winner Match F
1:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. PT – Match J – Bronze Medal Match – Loser Match G vs Loser Match H
4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT – Match K – Gold Medal Match – Winner Match G vs Winner Match H
6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT – Awards Ceremony – Bronze, Silver and Gold medals presented

All games livestreamed at www.USPORTS.LIVE.

2017 U SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
No. 1 Laval Rouge et Or
Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
Regular season / playoff records: 12-0-2 / 2-0
Last U SPORTS championship: 2016
Total U SPORTS Championships: 2
Team offence: 3.14 goals/game
Team defence: 0.35 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Joëlle Gosselin, 16
Goals leader: Joëlle Gosselin, 12
Assists leader: Kim Tremblay, 8
Probable starting goaltender (record): Marie-Joëlle Vandal (3-0-2)

The Rouge et Or women's soccer team continued its domination in 2017, finishing with a record of 12 wins, no losses and two draws in 14 games. Despite the departure of the 2016 Player of the Year and BLG Award-winner Arielle Roy-Petitclerc, Laval finished first in the RSEQ, with its third consecutive undefeated regular season. Head coach Helder Duarte's team has now played 54 regular season games in a row without defeat. The Rouge et Or come to Winnipeg as the reigning U SPORTS champion and will be attempting to win a third Gladys Bean Memorial Trophy in four years, following nationals titles in 2014 and last season. Laval, who also climbed on the national podium in 2015 with a bronze medal, just won its fourth consecutive RSEQ banner.

No. 2 Trinity Western Spartans
Playoff finish: Canada West champions
Regular season / playoff records: 10-3-1 / 3-0
Last U SPORTS championship: 2013
Total U SPORTS Championships: 5
Team offence: 2.57 goals/game
Team defence: 0.64 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Rachel Hutchinson and Seina Kashima, 12
Goals leader: Rachel Hutchinson, 7
Assists leader: Seina Kashima, 8
Probable starting goaltender (record): Christina Oliveiro (8-2-1)

The Spartans put together an historic defensive season, as Trinity Western set the Canada West shutout streak record at 10 matches and 924 minutes. After dropping two of their first three games of the regular season, the Spartans reeled off nine consecutive wins to help secured first place in the Pacific Division. With Seina Kashima and Rachel Hutchinson leading the offence with 12 points apiece, the Spartans finished second in the conference with 36 goals in 14 games. The Spartans’ staunch defending, which was led by the likes of Brooklyn Tidder, Amy Gartke and Jenaya Robertson, saw TWU finish with just nine goals against during the regular season. Fifth-year goalie Christina Oliverio, who one of just two graduating players on this year’s roster, earned eight shutouts, which was good for third in the conference.

No.3 Guelph Gryphons
Playoff finish: OUA champions
Regular season / playoff records: 10-4-2 / 3-0
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 1.50 goals/game
Team defence: 0.75 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Sydney Johnson, 5
Goals leader: Sydney Johnson, 5
Assists leader: Victoria Hinchcliffe, 2
Probable starting goaltender (record): Libby Brenneman (4-2-2)

The Guelph Gryphons women’s soccer team had a good indication early on that they could have a memorable season. The team finished in second in the OUA West with a 10-4-2 record. The experienced side was senior heavy, with veterans Nicole Brown-Shaw, Andrea Cimino, Jacqueline Goulart, Sydney Holden, and Allison Clouse forming the core of a group familiar with the OUA wars. Head coach Shayne Campbell’s team is known for its defensive prowess and the Gryphons, with First Team OUA All-star goalkeeper Libby Brenneman commanding the back, were tough to break down. The fourth-year keeper had seven of the team’s nine clean sheets, playing behind a stout line of defenders and an energetic midfield.

Guelph experienced a bit of a scoring drought midway through the season but the reemergence of 2016 OUA West rookie of the year Victoria Hinchliffe solidified the Gryphons for the stretch run. Hinchliffe, who was heroic in a 5-0 quarter-final win over Laurier and again in the Final Four upset of UOIT (two goals in each match, including the PK winner against the Ridgebacks), developed into a complete player in her second year and began to heat up at the perfect time for a side in search of its first national title.

No. 4 Cape Breton Capers
Playoff finish: AUS champions
Regular season / playoff records: 11-0-1 / 2-0
Last U SPORTS championship: 2007
Total U SPORTS championships: 1
Team offence: 4.17 goals/game
Team defence: 0.33 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Ciera DiSipio, 17
Goals leader: Keona Simmonds, 12
Assists leader: Ciera Disipio and Chantal Caron, 6
Probable starting goaltender (record): Lysianne Trottier (6-0-1)

The Cape Breton Capers finished the 2017 season in first place in the AUS regular season standings with an unbeaten 11-0-1 record. The Capers are heading to the U SPORTS Championship in search of their second national title, after winning it all in 2007. Key players to watch on the Capers are midfielder Ciera DiSipio, forwards Keona Simmonds and Tamara Brown and defenders Robyn Novorolsky and Kennedy Curry.

No. 5 Victoria Vikes
Playoff finish: Canada West finalists
Regular season / playoff records: 9-1-4 / 2-1
Last U SPORTS championship: 2005
Total U SPORTS Championships: 1
Team offence: 1.86 goals/game
Team defence: 0.43 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Kiara Kilbey, 10
Goals leader: Kiara Kilbey, 9
Assists leader: Emily Lieuwen, 4
Probable starting goaltender (record): Puck Louwes (9-1-4)

Central midfielder Emily Lieuwen has been at the centre of the Victoria Vikes women’s soccer success in 2017. The fourth year is competing in her last season and has started and played all but seven minutes of the regular season to finish with two goals and four assists. Co-captain Lieuwen’s two-way work-ethic is felt on both sides of the ball and will be key as the Vikes head into the U SPORTS Championship.

No. 6 Montréal Carabins
Playoff finish: RSEQ finalists
Regular season / playoff records: 10-0-4 / 1-1
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 2.64 goals/game
Team defence: 0.43 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Emmanuelle Alcindor, 14
Goals leader: Emmanuelle Alcindor, 9
Assists leader: Catherine Proulx, 6

The Carabins started their season with a deceiving result, blowing a a 2-0 lead against the Sherbrooke Vert & Or to emerge with a draw. Motivated to do better, the players of head coach Kevin McConnell played strongly the next few weeks, winning nine of their next eleven games. With a strong and balanced offence, Montreal scored two or more goals in all but one of their 10 victories this year, and saw three or more different players score goals in five games. For the first time since 2011, the Carabins went undefeated: that season, they finished second in the national championship.

No. 7 Manitoba Bisons
Playoff finish: Hosts
Regular season / playoff records: 4-7-3 / 0-1
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 1.14 goals/game
Team defence: 1.50 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Hailey Lavarias, 9
Goals leader: Hailey Lavarias and Florin Wanger, 7
Assists leader: Hailey Lavarias, 2
Probable starting goaltender (record): Justina Jarmoszko (4-5-2)

After a 4-7-3 regular season, the Bisons won their final match to advance into the postseason for a third consecutive campaign, where they pushed the defending conference champion UBC Thunderbirds, before falling 3-1.

The Bisons scored 16 goals and gave up 21 in 2017. They will be the underdog in their inaugural appearance at the U SPORTS championship but aim to surprise with the dual scoring threat of rookie midfielder Florin Wagner and sophomore midfielder Hailey Lavarias, who both scored seven goals this season. Second year Justina Jarmoszko was one of the top conference goalies, ranking second in saves and in the top 10 in both save percentage and shutouts in her first season with the Herd.

No.8 Western Mustangs
Playoff finish: OUA finalists
Regular season / playoff records: 14-1-1 / 2-1
Last U SPORTS championship: Never
Team offence: 2.25 goals/game
Team defence: 0.31 goals allowed/game
Points leader: Giulia Geraci and Julia Crnjac, 13
Goals leader: Giulia Geraci and Julia Crnjac, 11
Probable starting goaltender (record): Megan Girardi (9-0-1)

After dropping their second game of the season in a narrow 1-0 loss to the Guelph Gryphons, the Mustangs rattled off 14 undefeated games, finishing first in the OUA West. With a 14-1-1 record, the Mustangs have been a force this season, leading the OUA and tying for fifth in the nation in goals for with 36, and with only four goals against on the defensive end, the lowest in the conference. The team has consistently been ranked in the U SPORTS Top 10, and after their bronze medal last season, will be looking to make a statement at this year’s national championship. Boasting a young roster, the Mustangs rookies have led the way this season, with Giulia Geraci making a splash early in her varsity career.

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