Two Victoria athletes expected to feature for Canada in future Olympics and World Cups have been named U Sports national athletes of the year for their sports.
Queen’s Golden Gaels star Sophie de Goede, out of Oak Bay High, was named U Sports women’s top rugby player. Anna Mollenhauer, out of St. Michaels University School, was selected U Sports field hockey player of the year after national team duty in leading Canada to the 2021 junior World Cup next month in South Africa through the Americas qualifier in Chile.
De Goede received leave from the Canadian senior national rugby team, which is playing world top-ranked England on Sunday in London, to be with her university side because Queen’s is hosting the U Sports tournament in Kingston, Ont. De Goede led the Golden Gaels past the UBC Thunderbirds in the quarter-finals Thursday before Queen’s defeated Laval Rouge et Or 28-18 in overtime in the semifinals Friday night.
The UVic Vikes defeated the Guelph Gryphons 21-10 in the quarter-finals but lost a heart-racing semifinal 17-14 Friday against the Ottawa Gee Gees on a penalty goal in double overtime and will face Laval in the bronze-medal game Sunday. Regardless of outcome, it will be the Vikes’ best finish in team history after a previous high of fifth place at nationals.
The Vikes were missing notable players Renee Gonzalez, Gabrielle Senft and Canada West all-star and Olympian Sara Kaljuvee. The trio is with the Canadian national team for its Tests against England on Sunday and Wales next week in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. But Chanelle Edwards-Challenger and Larah Wright, respectively named U Sports first- and second-team all-stars, stepped up to almost deliver UVic to the championship game. UVic head coach coach Brittany Waters described Vikes team captain Edwards-Challenger as “an amazing leader on and off the field.”
Meanwhile, the host and Ontario-champion University of Toronto Varsity Blues took a 1-0 lead over Mollenhauer and the Canada West-champion UVic Vikes in the best-of-three U Sports national field hockey championship series with a shootout victory Friday in Game 1 after regulation time concluded 1-1. The second game is today and third game, if required Sunday. It was defending U Sports-champion UVic’s first loss of the season after going 7-0-1 in conference.
“Tomorrow is a new game and we’ll just need to be in the moment,” UVic head coach Lynne Beecroft said in a statement.
“We haven’t been behind this year, so there is a little adversity, but it is a very resilient group and I know they will want to come out tomorrow and make sure we extend it to Sunday.”
• In women’s basketball, the Trinity Western Spartans remained undefeated in Canada West with a 53-52 victory at the wire over the UVic Vikes (2-3) at the Langley Events Centre. UVic led 39-37 at three quarters.
The UVic men’s basketball team (3-1) was playing the Spartans in Langley in a conference game in progress at press time.