Men’s volleyball beat RMC Paladins

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team defeated the winless RMC Paladins in three sets this afternoon.

The Blues started off slow against the Paladins, but managed to dominate the final set. Head coach John Barrett felt that the Blues, “played well at moments and then not so great at others. We managed to almost get everyone on the roster playing time. I was happy overall with the performance.”

The first set featured recurring lead changes with the Blues eventually winning 25–20. The second set featured more of the same back and forth action from the Blues and Paladins.

However, staying close to the superior Blues was not enough for Paladins coach Steve Leknois, who took a timeout with the score 23–19 in favour of the Blues. During the timeout, Leknois was seen berating his players. The Paladins didn’t notch another point after the timeout and lost the set 25-19.

In the third set, the Blue took over and completely dominated the Paladins. A reeling RMC fell apart, and lost 25-9.

Barrett didn’t think that the Blues’ dominance in the final set had to do with any particular adjustments that the team made: “We kept playing at the same level. RMC just broke down there a little bit as far as there execution. I thought our executed well, which made it difficult for RMC.”

The Blues earned a much-needed win to improve their record to 3–6 for the season, as well as stay in the run for a playoff berth.

Religion and sports: unfathomable feelings and community

The first of three pieces on the connection between religion and sports

Religion and sports: unfathomable feelings and community

In the 1992 film A League of Their Own, Jimmy Dugan prayed to God in a pre-game talk with the Rockford Peaches: “May our feet be swift; may our bats be mighty.” Although the prayer piqued confusion from the players, and laughter from the film’s spectators, it reflects a connection that is prominent in the world of sports: its connection with religion.



A trend has been growing where athletes will start off their victory speeches by thanking their respective deities before thanking teammates, coaches, the organization, and of course, “the [winning team]’s fans: the greatest fans in the world.”

Charlotte Marcotte-Toale, a member of the Varsity Blues cross country team and member of the Christian athletic organization Athletes in Action, stated that: “The gift of God’s love in Jesus allows a student or an athlete to perform out of an identity of love that they didn’t earn, and that isn’t going to change, which frees them from worries, insecurities, fears, and doubts.”

Marcotte-Toale, like many other athletes, relies on religion to continue competing in her sport with the highest amount of effort that she can possibly exert. She believes that university athletes and professional athletes often use religion as motivation to compete, to continue to compete, and to “compete with heart and soul.”

Beyond the direct influence of religion on athletes, however, other connections can be drawn between the two traditions. One possibility is the experience of inexplicable sensations brought about by religion, and similar sensations prompted by events and moments in sports.

In New York University President John Sexton, Peter J. Schwartz, and Thomas Oliphant’s book Baseball as a Road to God, the writers explore experiential connections found between baseball and religion through chapters discussing such topics as miracles, faith, and doubt.

One prominent theme discussed in the book is a type of experience shared between religion and sports, the ineffable: “It’s really our moments in life that analysis and cognition can’t capture,” explained Schwartz.

Just as the enlightenment and lessons that come with religion may cause this sensation, so too may success in sports. When Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in game 5 of the 1956 World Series, the Yankees and their fans were undoubtedly overcome with a feeling unlike any other — a combination of joy, relief, and the inexplicable.

With these shared ineffable feelings also brings a coming-together of fans and players alike. This unification of people in a community is one major theme promoted by most religions, and is seen in the confluence of sports fans on municipal, national, and international levels.

“There’s something that a community identifies with in a sports team in a manner probably more closely than other aspects of civic life,” posited Schwartz.

On a daily basis, fans wearing a team’s colours or logo will exchange nods on the street, and will cheer in unison in the stands of a stadium or arena. Beyond these traditions, sports have the power to unite a more substantial group of people and provide them with feelings of security and comfort.

In 2009, the New Orleans Saints appeared in and won their first Super Bowl Championship. In the summer of 2005, Hurricane Katrina rushed through and destroyed much of their city, killing many of its citizens, and leaving many homeless. During the storm, the Louisiana Superdome, where the Saints play, provided shelter for over 26,000 people.

When the Saints won the Super Bowl, fans of the Saints, citizens of New Orleans, and those watching across the globe were united by joy for the team and its ability to overcome the effects of the tragedy and bring something to be proud of to their city.

The feeling of community that arose from this championship victory was on a monumental scale, similar to religion’s ability to bind together millions of people around a common cause.

“There’s an ability to unite about a common cause, and sports seems to be a medium where that seems to be more acute than other aspects of life,” added Schwartz.


Peter Schwartz will be giving a talk on November 20 at 7:30PM at 1700 Bathurst Street in the Hurwich Boardroom as part of a series of talks entitled “Jews in Sports.” 

Graduating athlete: Katy-Jo Williams

Champion field hockey player Katy-Jo Williams just finished her final season for the Blues field hockey team

Graduating athlete: Katy-Jo Williams

The Varsity Blues women’s field hockey team will be losing a Canadian Intercollegiate Sports (CIS) all-Canadian this year, as netminder Katy-Jo Williams has wrapped up her final semester at U of T. Williams has spent the last five years playing on the squad, contributing to the great success of the team, with one CIS title, one second-place finish in the CIS, and two Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships.

Williams, a long-time ice hockey player, got a late start in field hockey — having learned the game in high school. Her success got her noticed by the Blues coaching staff, who recruited Williams. The team’s great reputation, as well as Williams’ familiarity with some of the players, made U of T an obvious post-secondary choice.

“My high school was actually huge for field hockey, and a lot of the girls actually came to U of T, and then they kind of pulled me into U of T as well”.

However, Williams’s start on the team did not go as she expected: “In my last year of high school… I dislocated my shoulder; it was awful. And then I dislocated it again two months before I was coming to U of T… My first year on the team was pretty difficult. I didn’t get to play because I had shoulder surgery just after the season.”

In her second year on the team, Williams finally got her opportunity to play. In her third year, she was able to really showcase her talent.

“I ended up playing in the CIS finals, which was awesome, and I had worked really hard all season… I think that was a huge leadership step for me,” she says.

The CIS gold would be the highlight of Williams’s career, but there were still many more memorable wins to come. She stepped into the starting role in her fourth year, helping the team to an OUA championship.

Last year, Williams’s fifth season as a Blue, the team again made it to the CIS finals, which were hosted by the Blues at Varsity Stadium. However, the result wasn’t what they hoped for, as they ended the tournament with a silver medal.

“We had a great season, we came second in Canada, and came first in the OUA, but when you’re that close to winning, it’s really tough to take the loss.”

This year, after a very strong regular season, the team was disappointed again in the post-season, taking home an OUA bronze. Despite this, Williams remained positive: “It’s different, it’s my first bronze, but I’ll take what I can get.”

Moving forward, Williams is planning to stay involved in field hockey, by helping with the Varsity Blues team next year, and trying out for the indoor national team in January.

Although she is leaving the team, Williams has clearly made memories that she will never forget.

“My overall time with the team was just the most amazing experience you could ever ask for. I was extremely lucky and privileged to have the opportunity to be on such a close-knit team, and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.”

Spartans take second consecutive CIS title

Trinity Western prevails over Montreal in near-identical rematch of 2009 final

Spartans take second consecutive CIS title

Sunday evening, the Montreal Carabins and the Trinity Western Spartans competed for the national title at Varsity Centre in a rematch of the 2009 championship game between the same teams at the same venue. In the end, the Spartans repeated their victory with a 1–0 final score.

The game remained scoreless through the first half, with both teams’ defense holding sway.

In the second half, the aggressive play of both teams became apparent. In the 53 minute, Trinity Western took a very close shot, but the ball just missed the net. Montreal midfielder Constance De Chantal Dumont took another shot in the 56 minute, but one again was unsuccessful.

Finally in the 59 minute the tie was broken and star forward Krista Gommeringer scored the only goal of the game for the Spartans, taking advantage of the lack of defense around the Montreal net, and assisted by Alicia Tesan.

With a goal on the scoreboard, the game became much more aggressive, with a lot of pushing coming from the Carabins. Emotions were getting to the team, made apparent by rookie Lyssa Guilbault’s constant physicality, and by fellow rookie Virginie Labossière arguing with the official.

Trinity Western seemed nervous at times with the Carabins’ strong offense posing a threat, but they held their ground and managed to prevent Montreal from scoring through the rest of the game.

Spartans head coach Graham Roxburgh acknowledged the challenges that the Carabins posed for his team. “They created a lot of problems for us that we were struggling to deal with but sometimes good teams figure out ways to win.”

Trinity Western’s Vanessa Kovacs took a beating from the Carabins but managed to strongly compete throughout the match. At the end of the game, Kovacs was awarded with the titles of game MVP, tournament all-star, and tournament MVP.

“Vanessa’s one of the best players in the country,” stated Roxburgh. “She’s just battled so hard through adversaries and injuries and frustration. She never quits… She’s the heart and soul of the midfield.”

This is the Spartans second straight national title, and their fifth title in the past 10 seasons, lead by Roxburgh, who just completed his 15th season with the team.

CIS Championship Bronze Medal Game

Alberta Pandas vs. Cape Breton Capers

CIS Championship Bronze Medal Game

After both teams were shut down in their semi-final games on Saturday, the Cape Breton Capers and Alberta Pandas went into Sunday’s match with a bronze medal on their minds. In the end, the Canada West champion Pandas won 1–0 over the Atlantic University Sports champion Cape Breton Capers.

Alberta took charge early on, with a goal by Shalla Kadima, who headed the ball in off a corner kick from forward Jessie Candlish in the first two minutes of the game. Alberta had only a few minutes of relief before Cape Breton had them back on their toes.

The rest of the match was a nail-biter, with both teams struggling to put more numbers on the board. Alberta and Cape Bretons were neck-and-neck for the remainder of the game, with five goal attempts each, yielding no further scoring.

In the last few minutes of the game, Cape Breton had a few more chances to make it on the score board, but Alberta met every valiant goal-attempt with solid defense.

“I’m amazed by this group of girls”, Pandas head coach Liz Jespen said after the game. “I’ve had the pleasure of coaching many, many good teams and many, many great players. I think what’s unique about this team is the fact that from start to finish we have a number of good players… Realistically speaking it’s a very good team.”

Even in the face of disappointment, the Cape Breton head coach, Stephen Timmons, maintained a positive attitude. “That’s when you show character, when you go down early like that… I’m very proud of the way they battled through to the end of the game,” he said.

CIS Championship Semi-Finals

Montreal Carabins vs. Alberta Pandas and Trinity Western Spartans vs. Cape Breton Capers

CIS Championship Semi-Finals
Montreal Carabins vs. Alberta Pandas

On Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm, the Montreal Carabins beat the Alberta Pandas 2–0 in their semi-final game in the CIS women’s soccer championship.

“Montreal asked questions and we didn’t answer,” remarked Pandas’ head coach Liz Jepsen There is no doubt, however, that the former CIS champions put up a fight.

The match started out with the Pandas on the attack, but the Carabins counterattacked quickly, putting the game in a 70 minute deadlock which consisted of strong defense and fancy footwork from both teams.

A break finally came in the 65 minute when Montreal forward Virginie Labossiere scored, assisted by defender Steffy Roy-Ouellet. Three minutes later Carabins’ midfielder Constance De Chantal Dumont scored her first goal of the season, and the goal that would secure Montreal’s spot in Sunday’s final.

On Sunday, the Pandas will face the Cape Breton Capers in the bronze medal match at 1:30 pm, and the Carabins will compete for the title of national champions against the Trinity Western Spartans at 4:30.


Trinity Western Spartans vs. Cape Breton Capers

Saturday’s semi-final match between the Trinity Western Spartans and Cape Breton Capers can only be described as a duel, fueled by a desire to reach the finals. Ultimately, the Spartans clinched the spot in Sunday’s final with a 1–0 win over the Capers.

The match began with both sides on the attack, evident by the number of fouls made by both sides. The only goal of the match would be delivered by Spartans’ midfielder Natalie Boyd in the 40 minute.

Many more opportunities came for the Spartans later in the match to add onto their lead, but Capers’ goalkeeper Tiffany O’Donnell was not fazed by the Spartans’ strong offence. O’Donnell held her own, saving four of the five shots on goal. The Spartans dominated the ball and shots for the majority of the match, but along with O’Donnell’s incredible goalkeeping, the Capers’ defense remained strong.

The Spartans will face the Montreal Carabins in Sunday’s final game, and the Capers will face the Alberta Pandas in the bronze medal game.

CIS championship fifth place game

Laval Rouge et Or. vs. University of Toronto Varsity Blues

CIS championship fifth place game

Coming off a 2–1 win over the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks on Friday, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues showed up strong to their 5th place consolation game. In the end, the Blues overcame the Laval Rouge et Or in a 2–1 win, proving that they are, as head coach Anthony Capotosto put it, “among the best in the country.”

The match began under less than ideal weather conditions, but the girls pushed through the wind and rain to make the first half of today’s match a thriller.

Laval had an early chance to score in the second minute, but the shot was met with a clean save by goalkeeper Sara Petrucci. After an injury and early substitution, Toronto quickly stepped up their game, putting a spot on Laval’s clean sheet with a free kick in the 27 minute from graduating defender Diana Esteireiro.

The equalizer came in the 35 minute with a picture perfect goal set up by Laval forward Melissande Guy and scored by Laval forward Lea-Chastenay-Joseph.



As the weather began to clear up, Laval dove headed the second half of the game on the attack. The Rouge et Or had many opportunities to score, but no one could get past Petrucci, who demonstrated swift hands and agility throughout the match.

In the 60 minute, Shaylea Badovonic headed in a cross from team co-captain Aisha Lewis to retake the lead for Toronto, with Laval unable to make up the defecit.

“It means a lot to me to go out on a high,” said Esteireiro. Capotosto praised Estereiro stating that she is “one of a kind,” and irreplaceable.

After ending their season in fifth place, the Blues hope continue their strong play into next season.

CIS women’s soccer day one

Day one of the 2013 CIS women’s soccer championship featured all four quarter-finals, with the semi-finals set for Friday.


Game 1: Montreal Carabins vs. Western Mustangs

The Montreal Carabins defeated the Western Mustangs 2–1 on Thursday, in the quarter-final of the 2013 women’s soccer championships. After a 11–1–2 regular season and two playoff wins, the Carabins continued their successful run with a win, giving them Friday off to rest for their semi-final game on Saturday.

After a scoreless first half, the Carabins took a 2–0 lead with two goals within nine minutes of each other. Laurianne Garrant-Saine scored on a penalty kick after her teammate Constance de Chantal Dumont was taken down in front of the net.

Montreal’s season-long success has evidently given the team a lot of confidence. Faced with a late goal by Western third-year defender Samantha Taylor to cut the deficit 2–1, the Carabins were unfazed. “No; never any panic on the sideline,” said Montreal Carabins coach Kevin McConnell when asked if there was any panic on the sideline. “If anything, we were just frustrated with our play in the first half.”

The Western Mustangs appeared to get frustrated late in the game. Several Western players were arguing with referees; head coach Martin Painter was earlier suspended for a game for also arguing with referees.

The Montreal Carabins will play their semi-final game on Saturday at 1:30 pm against the Alberta Pandas.

— JP Kaczur


Game 2: Alberta Pandas vs. Laval Rouge et Or

The Canada West champion Alberta Pandas defeated the Laval Rouge et Or 1–0 in their quarter-final matchup of the 2013 CIS women’s soccer championships.

After a scoreless first half, the Panda’s Paula Dadensky scored the first and only goal of the game. The second-year player scored from of a corner kick by Rebecca Brandt, which proved to be the game winner.

The Pandas were perilously close to giving up their one goal lead in the 77 minute when Laval’s Melissande Guy was inches away from tying the game on a breakaway.  The Pandas settled down from there on in, tightening up their defense to ensure the 1–0 win.

Due to a mix of low-scoring and intermittent rain, Panda’s coach Liz Jepsen noted that the gameplay “wasn’t pretty.” Nevertheless, the Panda’s found a way to win. Jepsen added: “In this first game its about heart, desire, and fire to win.”

The Pandas will need to use the heart, desire, and fire against their next opponent the Montreal Carabins. The semi-final will feature two teams who were champions of their respective leagues on Saturday at 1:30 pm.

— JP Kaczur


Game 3: Laurier Goldenhawks vs. Trinity Western Spartans

November 7 at 4:30 pm, the defending CIS champion Trinity Western Spartans defeated the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) champion Laurier Golden Hawks 3–0 in a late-game win. Dominating the game was the Spartans’ Krista Gommeringer, who scored two goals and was credited with the assist on Natalie Boyd’s goal.

For the first 45 minutes of the match, the game remained scoreless. However, in the 45 minute, Spartans’ Boyd scored the first goal, giving Trinity Western an advantage leading into the second half.

The Spartans finished the first half with six shots, with the Golden Hawks having four. In the second half, the Spartans used the momentum from their lead to capitalize further, finishing with seven shots as opposed to Laurier’s two.

Gommeringer scored the second goal for Trinity Western in the 68 minute, giving the team a strong advantage going into the last 20s minutes of play, and then secured the lead by scoring in the 85 minute scoring.

Trinity Western will play the still–undefeated Cape Breton Capers on Saturday at 4:30 pm, and Laurier will compete for its chance at winning fifth place in the tournament in the consolation game on Friday. —EB