Mid-Season report cards for all MRU Cougars teams
By George Potter, Staff Writer
The Mount Royal University (MRU) Cougars have achieved some great things so far in the recent season. From winning bronze in men’s soccer to the women’s hockey and volleyball teams being ranked in Canada’s top ten and having some high-achieving individual athletes, it’s been a year to remember. Let’s take a look at how the Cougars have done so far.
Men’s Soccer (8-2-3)
The Cougars men’s soccer team has seen lots of success throughout the regular season and impressive playoff performance. They stomped the Grant MacEwan Griffins in a regular season matchup to the tune of a 12-3 final score. They also broke a record for most goals scored in a Canada West game since the University of Victoria Vikes beat the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Huskies 9-0 in 2004. They were also ranked within the top 10 in U SPORTS for men’s soccer.
The Cougars would make a deep playoff run, beating the Thompson River Wolfpack. Despite losing to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the semifinals, the Cougars were able to win the bronze medal by beating the University of Fraser Valley Cascades.
The team saw great individual success amongst their athletes with Moe El Gandour and Justin Anderson-Louch receiving spots on the Canada West first all-star team. The second all-star team featured MRU’s Dane Domic and Caden Rogozinski, while Ethan Keen and Caden Rogozinski made the rookie all-star team.
Nothing short of a championship could’ve improved on this season.
Women’s Volleyball (6-2)
After the pandemic shut down last season, this squad’s new roster and head coach, Shane Smith, have had a strong season so far. They’re currently ranked in the top five in U SPORTS. The season is far from over, but this team has shown some excellent effort so far.
Some notable individual performers have led the way. First-year Cougars outside hitter Faye Murray has been killing it, including a performance with 10 kills, two service aces, four digs and player of the game honours. Veteran players such as team captain Quinn Pelland, Hayley Roe, Jessica Osczevski and Madison Marshall have also stepped up throughout the season.
The team is on a four-game winning streak by beating the Grant MacEwan Griffins and the University of Calgary (U of C) Dinos. Who knows how long it’ll continue into the new year?
Women’s Hockey (9-3)
The women’s hockey team is ranked by U SPORTS at fourth place in the country. After making it all the way to nationals in the 2019-20 season just for it to be cancelled due to COVID-19, they’re performing like they’re hungry for a second chance to win what they should have won that year.
There has been a big contribution from the veterans and the new players on this team regardless of position. Goaltender Zoe De Beauville has given us a lot to talk about. Her playstyle is like a brick wall, with three shutouts so far this season. Second-year goaltender Kaitlyn Ross had also seen success as she was able to earn her first shutout, making 19 saves against the U of S Huskies.
Tianna Ko and Courtney Kollman have been standouts, racking up enough points to lead the team and rank high on the Canada West leaderboards. Ko has scored 12 points (fourth place in Canada West) while Kollman has scored 11 (seventh place in Canada West).
For the next half of the season, this team will be very exciting to watch; especially since the annual Crowchild Classic against the Dinos will be coming around the corner very soon.
Men’s Basketball (4-2)
The Cougars men’s basketball team has been undefeated so far on their home court. Second-year player Nate Petrone has shown great leadership and scoring ability with a points-per-game average of 17.3. His best performance came against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, earning him athlete of the week for Nov. 25 – Dec. 1. Holt Tomie, Dylan Lutes and Nick Held have also been leaders for the Cougars.
This team has a great record and has improved greatly from their last season. Giving them a high grade is an easy choice.
Men’s Hockey (6-6)
The Cougars had some good performances earlier in the season, but have struggled recently, including in their last two games against the U of S Huskies. Hopefully, they’re able to rest up over the winter break and build some momentum back up.
However, former Stockton Heat player Nolan Yarmenko has been a bright spot for the Cougars. He was awarded Canada West player of the week for scoring 6 points while on the road. In addition, Yaremko, Riley Sawchuk, Kyle Walker, Tyson Helgesen and Ryley Lindgren, were selected to compete in the U SPORTS Men’s All-Star series. This also included head coach Bert Gilling and two other members of the Cougars coaching staff. With this much star power on the roster, it’s only a matter of time before the team turns things around.
Women’s Basketball (2-4)
The women’s basketball team has had a rough start to the year but has managed to hold a higher spot in the Canada West standings compared to their 2019-20 season so far. Hopefully, this team will continue its upward trajectory in the next half of the season.
Jenika Martens has stood out as she leads the team in points per game at 12.8. There also has been some success for rookie Bella Gaulden, averaging 9.8 points per game. However, it is yet to be determined what will happen for Gaulden in the winter semester due to injury concerns.
Overall, the sting of a losing record is balanced out by the team’s year-over-year improvement.
Women’s Soccer (3-7-2)
This team upset a powerhouse in the U of C Dinos on their home field thanks to Cougars goalkeeper Katrina Greenley, who saved 11 out of 12 shots. Greenley would receive U SPORTS athlete of the week for her heroics.
With a strong performance in that upset and a two-goal outing against the U of A Pandas, rookie Sydney Danielewicz has turned heads all around the country. She led the Cougars in goals this season with six under her belt and was named to the Canada West All-Rookie team.
This squad has shown a lot of potential for the future and had some big wins this season. However, their losing record means I can’t give a positive grade for this year.
Men’s Volleyball (2-6)
The Cougars men’s volleyball team has struggled the most on this list. This season is far from over and there’s plenty of time for redemption for the second half of the year.
Despite the struggling record, the team has shown promise. They’re still able to keep the home crowd energized, and Chris Byam has been a standout, which earned him player of the week for Dec. 2-8. These bright spots might be enough to help this squad turn it around.