Taking a mid-season look at all the Dinos

It’s been one semester of competition for the University of Calgary’s sports teams and championships have been won and lost, playoffs have been made or missed and there have been both cheers and tears. Some seasons are over and some are just starting. Here’s a look at what’s happened for the Dinos in the fall semester.

Field hockey

Record: 3-8-1 (fourth in the conference, missed playoffs)

The Dinos had their best season in a decade, came close to a playoff position and a spot in the CIS finals tournament, missing out by one point. The team has turned around significantly and the future looks bright, as they carried only one player with more than three years experience this season, graduating forward Caelyn Barrie.

“We are skilled, fit and faster than all the teams in the country,” said head coach Jenn Swagar. “We just need to learn to compete, to win the individual battles, to always assume the ball is yours. . . . We will keep improving, we will be fitter, faster and more determined than any other team.”

Eventual CIS champions the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds lost only two games all year, one of which was to the Dinos, who beat them 2-1 in Calgary on Oct. 11. The Dinos other two victories came over the University of Alberta Pandas. Despite winning only three games all year, they scored as many goals as the second place University of Victoria Vikes.

Seventeen-year-old defender Carolina Romeo was named a second-team All-Canadian and will enter into her third year next year.



Men’s soccer

Record: 4-7-3 (fifth in conference, missed playoffs)

They were in contention for a playoff spot up until the final week of the season, albeit needing a lot of help, but still finished out of the playoffs in their first season under new head coach Ken Price. Goal scoring was a problem again for the Dinos, as they potted only 12 goals in eight games, a conference low. But that was offset slightly by the defence, which allowed 19 goals, the fifth least amount in the conference.

Next year, barring unexpected losses, will be a team of mainly fourth and fifth years. Much like the field hockey team, men’s soccer only loses one from their squad due to eligibility, fifth-year midfielder David Bird, but will have a host of fifth-years next year. It’ll be the last kick at the can for goalkeeper J.P. Creszenci, defender Matt Reid, midfielder Tanmeet Singh and forward Brian Delaney, if they choose to come back. They’re the last of a group of Dinos to taste the post-season, back in 2006 when the team lost in the Canada West final. They’ll be in tough again, as the Canada West conference features three teams (UBC, the U of A and University of Victoria) that have won it all in the last six years and one that has won four CIS medals in five years (Trinity Western University).



Women’s soccer

Record: 7-7-0 (sixth in conference, missed playoffs)

The women’s soccer squad also narrowly missed out on a playoff spot, finishing just two points shy of fourth place. This was the first season that only four teams (instead of six) made the playoffs in the Canada West in women’s soccer. The Dinos got seven goals from Katie Blundell and six goals from Tessa Miller to lead the way offensively for a team that finished in the middle of the pack in conference scoring. They also finished in the middle of the pack in goals against, and allowed eight more goals than they scored. A tighter defence would go a long way to helping make the now tougher climb into the playoffs.

Much like the other two fall squads covered so far, women’s soccer only loses one player due to eligibility, graduating defender Andrea Hayes, and, barring an early departure, will bring back four players in their fifth year: midfielder Lindsay Burrowes and forwards Morena Ianniello, Blundell and Joanna Ng. Much like on the men’s side, the Canada West conference is always tough and features three teams that have taken home CIS championships in the last six years (UBC, Trinity Western and U of V).



Women’s rugby

Record: 0-4-0 (fifth in conference, missed playoffs)

It was a tough opening season for the women’s rugby squad. Not only did they not win a game, they were outscored 188-0. But no one was expecting it to be easy, and the team can take positives away from a tight 5-0 loss to the Vikes on Oct. 4. This is a conference dominated by the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, who shut out teams seven times in 10 games on the way to their third straight CIS championship. At least the Dinos have a team to measure themselves up to.

Only one player on the squad this year had more than two years of eligibility, forward Alana McEvoy. So we’ll call this first year a learning experience on the long ladder to success for a new team in Canada West rugby.



Football

Record: 7-1 (second in conference, lost in Vanier Cup final)

It was a season of high expectations and the Dinos did everything except take home the biggest prize. Last year, the team went all the way to Quebec, the national semi-final and a loss to Laval Universite. This year, it was Vanier Cup or bust. Though they didn’t come away with a Vanier Cup, it’d be hard to call this season a bust. The Dinos hadn’t been to the Vanier Cup since 1995 and they hadn’t had a player win the Hec Crighton award as national MVP since then either. Quarterback Erik Glavic took away that honour, his second overall after winning his first during his stint at Saint Mary’s, and defensive lineman Linden Gaydosh was named the rookie of the year to boot.

Perhaps the way they lost in the national final will sting for some years to come (an epic collapse after leading 25-7 at halftime), but this will be a successful program that will continue to haul away hardware over the next few years after capturing the Hardy Cup for the second year in a row, and a Uteck Bowl.

They only lose four players due to eligibility, defensive lineman Andrew Obrecht, linebacker Chase Moore, defensive back Matt Grohn and backup quarterback Deke Junior, and retain all of the key offensive cogs, barring unforeseen departures, that made this Dinos squad one of the best point-scoring teams in school history.

The loss stings, sure, as it should. But the sun has only just begun shining again on Dinos football.



Cross-country

Finish: women: sixth nationally, fourth Canada West; men: fifth nationally, second Canada West.

The Dinos distance runners came into the season holding both Canada West titles and walked away with neither after failing to have a runner place on the All-Canadian teams. On the plus side, all of the team is eligible to return and they can build on good runs by second-year Sam Dorosz, who finished 60th overall on the men’s side, and first-year Katie Fenton, who finished 45th overall on the women’s side and was named Canada West rookie of the year.



Men’s basketball

Record: 8-2 (first in Prairie Division, ranked fourth nationally)

Another team with high expectations, so far the men’s basketball squad his lived up to them after rolling through the first half of their schedule. Through 10 games, they have outscored their opponents by an average of nearly 16 points, thanks to offensive firepower from Ross Bekkering, 18.3 points per game, and Robbie Sihota, 17.3 points per game, both in the top 10 in scoring in Canada West. Bekkering is also second in rebounding with 9.6 per game, giving him nearly a double-double average. Point guard Jamie Mcleod, in his second year with the team, has averaged 5.1 assists per game, tied for top spot in the conference.

“The strong leadership on and off the court from Ross Bekkering, Jamie McLeod and Robbie Sihota have contributed greatly to the teams success,” said head coach Dan Vanhooren. “Changes as a result in physical abilities from off season work have greatly improved the squad, specifically the play of star guard Tyler Fidler. At 6’9″, playing on the perimeter, Tyler presents match up nightmares for opponents.”

Fidler has averaged 14.7 points per game, along with 6.6 rebounds, and sunk a team-high 14 three-pointers in the first half of the season.

For the second half, the Dinos have a six-game home stretch to look forward to, including a massive match-up against the Thunderbirds on Jan. 23. The T-Birds knocked the Dinos out of the CIS Final 8 tournament in the semi-final last year in Ottawa and currently sit on top of the national rankings.



Women’s basketball

Record: 6-4 (tied for second in Prairie Division)

There were only two players that started the season this year for the Dinos with more than two years of experience under their belt: fourth-year Ashley Hill and third-year Megan Lang, so the early season success (the Dinos enjoyed a short stint on top of the division) has come as somewhat a surprise. Injuries have also hampered the squad, including a torn ACL which has sidelined second-year Esther Graff for the year, but they have still found ways to score, as they currently sit second in the nation with an 83.1 points per game average.

“We had some very effective team building exercises in the off season and our team chemistry was exceptional from the very beginning,” said apprentice coach Jackson Parker. “Unfortunately injuries were also with us from the beginning of the year. . . . Though despite all this adversity, it has been a very positive start to our season.”

Despite the high-scoring offence, the Dinos currently only have one player in the top 10 in conference scoring: Hill, fifth with a 17 points per game average. Alex Cole is the next highest scoring Dino, sitting 14th with 13.9 points per game.

The women’s squad face a similar six-game home stretch as the men next semester, but all six of those games are against foes currently ranked nationally.



Men’s volleyball

Record: 6-2 (first in Canada West, ranked 2nd nationally)

Few teams have been able to stop this Dinos squad, as they’ve blazed out to a 6-2 record while losing only 10 sets in eight matches. They’ve been consistently one of the top teams in the country, including being ranked number one overall for the first time since 1998 before a loss to the Trinity Western Spartans dropped them to their current standing. Fifth-year middle Oleg Podporin has been having a great season, sitting third in Canada West in both hitting percentage with a 0.417 and service aces, averaging 0.37 per game. He also sits second in blocks, averaging 1.2 per set.

Assistant coach Kerry MacDonald pointed to a Husky Dino Cup win in the preseason, which included a 3-0 sweep of the UCLA Bruins in the final, and a 3-0 sweep of the defending national champions, the U of A Golden Bears, as highlights to the season so far. He added that with everyone healthy in the second semester, the team is optimistic about a push towards the national championships.

That push will happen largely on the road, as they play only four home contests against six road matches in such exotic locales as Regina, Winnipeg and Vancouver.



Women’s volleyball

Record: 4-6 (seventh in Canada West, ranked tied for ninth nationally)

It’s been a season of twos so far for the women’s side: win two, lose two. They started the season with two losses to the Pandas in Edmonton, and then followed that up with two wins, only to follow it up with two losses, and so on. This flip-flopping has the Dinos in the seventh and final playoff spot in Canada West heading into the winter break.

But all six of the Dinos losses so far have come against top teams (the Pandas, ranked fifth nationally; the University of Manitoba Bisons, ranked third nationally; and the Spartans, ranked sixth nationally) and they face a similiarly tough schedule during the second half. After taking on the 1-9 University of Saskatchewan Huskies at home, they travel to face the Thunderbirds (9-0, ranked first overall in the country) and the Cougars (6-2, ranked fourth). They also have to take on Brandon University Bobcats (6-2, ranked seventh) at home.

Third-year setter Sarah Lacny is third in the conference, averaging 9.53 assists per game, though the Dinos don’t have a single player in the top 10 for kills.

For Jesse Knight and his young Dinos squad, it’ll be a tough road in the second half, but they can look at two of those first-half losses, where they pushed the Pandas and the Spartans to five sets, for inspiration.



Men’s hockey

Record: 8-4-2 (fourth in Canada West)

At the start of the year, new head coach Mark Howell said the Dinos goal was to displace one of the Huskies or the Bears for a top-two spot in the conference, and they’re close heading into the final two games before the winter break, sitting only two points out of second, currently occupied by the Bisons, and one point back of the Huskies, who sit in third. They’ve done it by keeping it close to the vest: three of their wins have come in the shootout, with another two coming by just one goal. They’ve also done it by winning at home, as they currently hold a 7-1-0 record at Father David Bauer. On the flip side, they’ve only won one game away from Calgary and have eight away games remaining, including the two this upcoming weekend to end the first half schedule.

Brock Nixon has led the way with 14 points so far for the Dinos, followed closely behind by Torrie Wheat and Reid Jorgensen, who both have 13. Second-year goalie Dustin Butler has been in between the pipes for all but one of the Dinos wins, and holds a 2.75 GAA and 0.901 save percentage so far.



Women’s hockey

Record: 1-11-0 (last in Canada West)

After a short-lived promising start, a 3-1 win over the Thunderbirds to annouce their return to CIS hockey, the Dinos team has dropped 11 straight. They’ve scored only 14 goals so far, the second lowest total in the conference, and have let in a conference high 46 goals. Only two of their losses have been by one goal, and they’ve been shut out four times, including three of their last four games heading into the winter break.

“The Dino women’s hockey team is now half way through it’s first season in the CIS and although we got off to a good start in the pre-season our team began to struggle in the regular season,” said head coach Danielle Goyette. “Player injuries have shortened our bench quite drastically so now we are hoping with the holiday break coming up we will get some well deserved rest.”

It’s been a season of hard knocks so far, but Goyette added that the team played well in their final game against the Pandas, holding the score to a 0-0 tie until the final period, before penalty troubles led to the Dinos dropping the game 2-0.

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