Women’s basketball team looks towards championship
The University of Toronto’s women’s basketball team has been to an unmatched 17 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships, including a berth in the 2011 tournament. Courtside, head coach Michèle Bélanger has lead the team since the 1979 season, boasting an impressive record of nine Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championships and 15 CIS appearances.
This upcoming season the women are looking to add to their legacy and Bélanger’s resume with a national championship victory.
The 2012 season ended on a low note with a 64–84 loss to the Carleton Ravens in the OUA East semifinal. Nevertheless, Toronto ended the regular season with an admirable 14–8 record, which saw the team seeded third in the OUA East. The Blues were in good form coming out of the holiday break and posted a 7–2 record in January, before hitting a 2–3 slump in their final five games of the year.
Second year guard Jill Stratton, the OUA East rookie of the year in her freshmen season, was named a 2011–2012 OUA first team all-star after finishing the year ranked sixth in Ontario with 14.6 points per game. Stratton was the Blues regular season top-scorer, with 321 points.
With a tough schedule this season, Stratton and the team will be looking to make good on their promise, aiming to rebound from their playoff loss and make a run for the national championship.
Hopeful men’s hockey season ahead
The Varsity Blues’ men’s hockey team are worth keeping an eye on this year.
The team finished the 2011–2012 season in fourth place in the East Division with a 16–9–3 record. They also qualified for the OUA playoffs, but were eliminated in the quarterfinal round by the Carleton Ravens, with an overtime loss in the third game.
Despite the anticlimactic finish, the season was filled with positives for the team: Blues’ head coach Darren Lowe was named East Coach of the year and four-time Blues leading scorer Byron Elliott was named an OUA All-Star. The team showed a lot of promise in the final stretch of the regular season, winning seven of their last nine games. The team also witnessed the emergence of two solid goaltenders in Brett Willows and Garrett Sheehan.
Willows and Sheehan both finished the season with impressive statistics — save percentages of .913 and .914 and goals-against averages of 2.99 and 2.96, respectively. Willows, a rookie last season, recorded back-to-back shutouts against Queens University and was nominated as U of T’s male rookie of the year. Sheehan was twice named Varsity Blues athlete of the week and earned OUA weekly honors for his stellar performance against eventual OUA and CIS champions, the McGill Redmen.
Considering the quality of the hockey that the Blues played during their late-season surge and the development of their two talented net-minders, there are plenty of reasons for the team to be excited for their upcoming season.