U Sports is back in full force after 2 years of pandemic cancellations
After limited activity for the past two years due to the pandemic, Canadian university sport is returning to full season schedules for this school year with more than 12,000 student-athletes returning to competition.
With fall sports underway and more to begin soon, here are some stories to watch as the teams strive to win their respective national championships.
Western eyes Vanier Cup as London hosts for first time
London, Ont. will host the Vanier Cup for the first time as U Sports’ flagship event visits the team’s home eight times winners and defending champions Western Mustangs.
“London is an exceptional sporting community, and there is a strong footballing culture here, so with the city and the university supporting it, it will be exciting,” said the West’s head football coach, Greg Marshall at CBC Sports. “Laval has been a great host, and our planning can learn from their role model, but it’s good that he’s moving too.”
Université Laval has hosted the Vanier Cup seven times since 2009, with 41 of its 56 previous editions taking place in Toronto.
WATCH | The Western Mustangs win the 2021 Vanier Cup in Quebec City:
The Mustangs had a strong start to the OUA season with wins over the Guelph Gryphons, Laurier Golden Hawks and Queen’s Gaels. Still, despite starting 3-0, there’s plenty of work to be done in their final five regular season games.
“We are a work in progress, we have a good team, but there is still a lot of football to play,” he said. “We are excited about it. Last year it was all about getting back on the pitch, and this year we don’t want to look too far down the road; we know what we have to do to get to the Vanier Cup.
UBC women’s soccer record
The UBC Thunderbirds could break some U Sports records in their pursuit of a national championship after finishing fourth in the tournament in 2021.
Senior forward Danielle Steer started the season 11 points off the Canada West conference career high and now sits just four points off the mark.
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A career season continues for her as she scored her 2nd goal of the game, 4th of the weekend and 7th of the season.
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Meanwhile, Katalin Tolnai has scored seven goals in three games and is on course to break Calgary Dinos forward Montana Leonard’s single-season goalscoring record of 17 in 2021.
The uOttawa Gee-Gees, led by forward Cassandra Provost, have several championships in sight, having also qualified for the FISU Americas Championship and the FISU University World Cup in January in China.
After winning the 2019 University World Cup, uOttawa earned automatic entry into the 2023 tournament, but will compete in the FISU Americas Qualifying Tournament in Mexico in late October while also playing in the OUA.
“It’s going to be a challenge managing two teams because we’ll be in Mexico while we’re playing in the OUA,” head coach Steve Johnson told CBC Sports. “We are allowed to bring back some old-timers, so that will help, but we will have to stay injury-free to make sure we don’t wear ourselves out too much.”
The two finalists from Ontario, Atlantic Canada and Western Canada will join host Laval Rouge et Or and winner Quebec in November for the national championships.
Return of hockey and basketball with an Olympic rocket
Meanwhile, hockey and basketball begin in October, and a non-Olympic year brings attention back to campus for several coaches.
Last season was anything but simple for Dalhousie Tigers women’s hockey head coach Troy Ryan, who led Team Canada to two IIHF World Women’s Hockey Championships as well as a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
“It was a whirlwind last season and the last few years with Olympic centralization,” Ryan told CBC Sports. “My job is to get the best out of the athletes, whether it’s with the national team or at university, so that doesn’t change much.”
While Dalhousie isn’t a favorite to win an AUS title in women’s hockey, other Olympic coaches, like Canada Basketball assistant Carly Clarke, will be looking to lead the Toronto Metropolitan Bold to another undefeated season and a championship. women’s basketball national.
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The return of the FISU World University Games
As uOttawa women’s soccer program heads to China for FISU University World Cup, more international competitions return as U Sports sends athletes to represent Canada at World University Championships and Games 2023 Winter World University Championships, scheduled for Lake Placid, NY, in January.
The Lake Placid Games mark a return for the multi-sport event after COVID-19 was postponed and later forced the cancellation of the 2021 Lucerne Games. Using many venues from the 1980 Olympics, the 2023 Games feature 12 sports , including hockey, alpine skiing, curling, figure skating, ski jumping, snowboarding, freestyle skiing, short track, speed skating and Nordic events.