Sports, Varsity round up

Varsity Round Up: Jan. 19-22

Martlets out-grind Laval Rouge et Or

Final: 55-54 W

Nate Northfield

On Jan. 19, an energetic and competitive atmosphere filled Love Competition Hall as the McGill women’s basketball team (2–8) took on Université Laval (7–3). 

The energy was contagious, providing the spark that the Martlets needed to overcome the Rouge et Or in a narrow 55–54 victory. In the absence of one of their key players—Jessica Salanon— the Martlets knew they had their work cut out for them matching up against a Laval squad with elite mental toughness and athleticism.

The Martlets started off shaky, allowing Laval to gain an early advantage with a 10-5 lead. However, a key timeout kept the Martlets poised, helping them solidify their defensive attack and earn them a two-point lead to close out the first frame.

In the second quarter, the Martlets converted their relentless defence into an unstoppable offence, going on a crucial 11-3 run to give them a comfortable lead. 

After halftime, Laval came out of the locker room with a mission. They made a 7-0 run thanks to Audrey Béland’s stellar offence and were able to cut their deficit to only eight points. The score sat at 45-37 going into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, the Martlets went cold from the field and allowed Laval to chip away at the scoreboard. With two minutes remaining, second-year guard Katie Rathwell drew a massive charge to prevent Laval from getting ahead. In the next possession, third-year guard Emma-Jane Scotten hit two crucial free throws that would end up being the game-winning baskets. Laval was ultimately able to narrow the lead to only three points with 35 seconds remaining. The game reached a climax with 10 seconds left to go, when Laval’s Léa-Sophie Verret hit a layup to bring the score within one, but the Martlets held on to secure the victory. 

An emotional win against a versatile offence like the Rouge et Or should be a positive step in boosting the Martlets’ defensive confidence.

“We were told to switch on everybody,” said Rathwell. “They are a really athletic team and a really strong team, we’re mostly guards out there, so we were just trying to make the right switches off screens and not get those mismatches.” 

After falling 72-47 in a miserable rematch against Laval on Jan. 21, the Martlets will play their next game on Feb. 2 against the Bishop’s Gaiters (7–2). 

Rouge et Or basketball bests the Redbirds in back-to-back games

Final: 81-70 L 

Eliza Lee

After a tough loss against UQÀM (6–2) on Jan. 14, McGill Redbirds basketball (2–8) returned to Love Competition Hall for a match-up against Laval Rouge et Or (6–4) on Jan. 19.  

McGill began the game with energy and drive, seizing rebounds and skillfully evading Laval defence with quick passes. The team gained confidence from steady handling by first-year guard Samuel Chaput and five successful three-pointers, each of which were celebrated by the lively McGill fans. By the end of the second quarter, the Redbirds were up 35-21. 

In the second half, Laval sharpened their defence, with the Rouge et Or weaponizing their height advantage to grab rebounds and cover McGill’s offence. Though the Redbirds continued to fight hard, Laval shut them down, scoring 16 free throws in the final quarter and besting McGill 81-70. 

In an interview with The McGill Tribune, head coach Ryan Thorne admitted that the team went into the game expecting to win.

“We beat them last […] so we felt pretty confident in what we had as a game plan, and we executed it well in the first half, and just didn’t execute it well in the second half,” Thorne said. “We’re just trying to win one game at a time.”

Redbirds guard Sam Jenkins noted that the team plans to work on improving their stamina so they can play their best for the entire duration of the game.

“In the first half, we were […] the better team, defensively and offensively, and in the second half […] our intensity fell apart,” Jenkins said. 

He added that the team was optimistic going forward despite the loss. 

“We know we’ll be the team coming out of Quebec, we just need to find it within ourselves to play two halves of the game, instead of just playing one.” 

The Redbirds fell 88-74 to the Rouge et Or on Jan. 21 and will face off against the Bishop’s Gaiters at home on Feb. 2. 

Martlets hockey fall to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in a high-scoring affair 

Final: 7-2 L 

Jack Armstrong

The McGill Martlets (2–15–1) faced off against the Ottawa Gee-Gees (10–6) on Jan. 20 at McConnell Arena. Having won two of their last three games, the Martlets hoped to continue on their recent path of successes. The Martlets started strong and quickly jumped into the lead with a power play goal by first-year forward Anika Cormier. Ottawa, however, quickly outmatched McGill’s intensity and tied it up just three minutes later. The Gee-Gees continued to apply pressure throughout the period and scored an additional three goals, giving them a 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission. 

The Martlets began the second period much like the first and netted their second goal when first-year forward Maika Lecavalier produced a brilliant pass to fourth-year forward Makenzie McCallum, who calmly slotted the puck past the Ottawa goalie. The rest of the period was the battle of the tendies, as the Martlets were unable to capitalize on several scoring chances while second-year goalie Sarah Carmichael produced a myriad of saves.

The Martlets carried their momentum into the third period and just missed a couple of scoring chances within the first minutes. Both goaltenders continued to trade stunning saves until Ottawa managed to sneak one by Carmichael to restore their three-goal lead. McGill fought valiantly to get back into the game and continued to create scoring opportunities, but two late goals from Ottawa sealed the deal and handed the Martlets another defeat.

Despite the loss, head coach Alyssa Cecere remained optimistic heading into the final month of the regular season. 

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” said Cecere. “We want to have a better end to our season so we are taking it each game at a time, that’s our focus.”

The Martlets fell 6-1 to the Bishop’s Gaiters (8–8) on Jan. 22 at McConnell Arena for Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Night. They will play next on Jan. 27 against the Carleton Ravens (6–11).  

Martlets volleyball takes revenge on the Ottawa Gee-Gees 

Final: 3-1 W

Philippe Haddad 

The McGill Martlets (8–4) exacted their revenge on the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees (4–9) on Jan. 22 in a three-set game. The second-seeded Martlets wore their special-edition pink “Dig for the Cure” uniforms as part of a fundraiser for breast cancer research. 

The first set began with matched fervor on both sides. Tension intensified throughout the opening stretch of play as both teams failed to score consecutive points. Phenomenal defensive efforts from libero Catherine Vercheval, middle blocker Charlene Robitaille, and outside hitter Clara Poiré allowed the Martlets to pull away with a lead, forcing Gee-Gee errors throughout the set. Middle blocker Meaghan Smith used her size to wall off the net, contributing two of the last four points to close out the first set 25-18.

The second set’s beginning echoed the first, with McGill capitalizing on Ottawa’s mistakes and duking it out defensively. This was the trend for most of the game, as the Gee-Gees committed 22 errors to McGill’s 10. Neither team was willing to give up easy points throughout this set, however, and hard-nosed digs from Vercheval and power hitter Victoria Iannotti along with Poiré’s heads-up awareness allowed McGill to finish it off 25-18.

The final set was a tale of two halves. McGill jumped to an early 14-6 lead with cut shots from Masha Solaja and beautiful assists by Audrey Trottier. The game seemed all but decided at 19-11 but Ottawa flipped a switch, pounding service aces down into McGill’s court and dominating through aerial combat to climb within two points of the Martlets’ 24-22 lead. It took a powerful spike from Poiré to close out the final set at 25-22.

“We studied [Ottawa] a lot,” Vercheval told the Tribune, explaining McGill’s defensive strategy. “At some point you have a game plan and you know where to go, but the rest you just grind and get up and do it.”

With the Martlets bringing home a 3-1 victory over the first seed Université de Montreal Carabins on Jan. 22, McGill has officially ascended to the number one spot in the RSEQ standings.

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