It was a terrific year for the majority of Huskie sports as the 2014–15 season saw some incredible performances. Four teams represented the green and white at nationals amongst many individual wrestlers and track and field athletes, while one team won a Canada West title.
The Sheaf took a look back at the year and handed out grades to the nine university teams who competed this season. Grades were measured on regular season and playoff success, as well as how they measured up to the standard set by previous Huskies teams.
It was an unprecedented year for the men’s soccer team as the Dogs enjoyed the best season in school history. With a 9–1–3 record, the squad earned the top seed for the first time and with it, hosting duties for the CanWest Final Four. Led by Brett Levis and Jordian Farahani, the boys did not disappoint their home fans as they captured the first conference title in program history with
a 4–2 victory over the University of Alberta Golden Bears, as well as qualified for nationals.
From there, they were beaten by the host University of Prince Edward Island Panthers in extra time and wound up seventh at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships. Levis led the CIS in scoring with 17 points in the regular season and goalkeeper Michal Bandula also led the country in wins with nine.
The season for the women’s soccer team was an undeniable success. Following a 7–2–3 record in the regular season, the Huskies hosted their first ever playoff game. Up against the MacEwan University Griffins in the quarter-finals, star striker Jennelle Zapski buried the winner and gave the team their first ever post-season victory.
From there they travelled to the CanWest Final Four where they earned a bronze medal, the first medal of any colour for the program. Zapski was a big part of the newfound success as she set Huskie records with 14 goals and 16 points this past season; both were tops in the CanWest conference.
The team had no players graduating and will keep its core intact next season as they continue to improve and establish the University of Saskatchewan as a prominent soccer school.
After last year saw them fall just short of a national championship on home ice, it was a down year as far as the hockey program was concerned. They were the final team to qualify for the post-season in the tough CanWest with a 10–15–3 record and ended the year winning just one of their final nine games.
They took on the Mount Royal University Cougars in the quarter-finals and forced a winner-take-all game three, but they fell 3–0, ending their season. Saskatchewan will lose its leading scorer as Craig McCallum graduates, as well as starting goalie Ryan Holfeld. CIS wins leader Dave Adolph has his work cut out for him to get the Dogs to compete for the conference title again.
Following last season’s CIS bronze and CanWest gold, the women’s hockey team had high hopes for the new year. The team graduated its two leading scorers, but they definitely didn’t expect to take such a step back this season. They finished fifth with a 14–10–4 record and were swept at the hands of the University of Calgary Dinos in the first round of playoffs. A difficult stretch to begin 2015 saw the team drop seven straight contests and that kind of set the tone for the final two months of the season.
Forward Kaitlin Willoughby continued her solid career and led the team in scoring in her sophomore season. The squad will graduate two players — Chelsey Sundby and Kandace Cook — but will keep star players Willoughby, captain Julia Flinton and goaltender Cassidy Hendricks.
After a tough start to the season, the men’s basketball team picked up steam and won 11 of their last 12 down the stretch to earn the top seed in the conference and the right to host the CanWest Final Four. In playoffs, they disposed of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds en route to the conference final, where they would meet the University of Victoria Vikes. On home court, the Dogs would fall short — losing by just three points.
They did however qualify for the CIS Final 8 and when the seeds were announced the Huskies seemingly drew the short end of the stick, winding up in eighth. That set up a first round tilt with the eventual national champion Carleton University Ravens, where the Huskies fell 90–50. They won their two consolation games and wound up in fifth place in the country. The team will lose two of their key players as Ben Baker and Dadrian Collins have both used up their eligibility. Andrew Henry and Connor Burns will also graduate this year.
The Huskies came into the new season as the defending conference champions and were poised for a repeat. They ended the regular season on an absolute tear, winning 17 of their remaining 18 games. From there, they advanced on to the conference final and would lose to the UBC Thunderbirds by just a single point.
The group recovered from the emotional loss and knock off the Alberta Pandas at the national tournament, booking their trip to the semifinals. They would run into the powerhouse University of Windsor Lancers, who were on the road to a five-peat. A 75–61 loss set up a rematch with UBC in the bronze medal game, where the T-birds would once again get the best of the Dogs with a 73–61 win. With guards Riley Humbert and Kabree Howard the lone graduates, the team will be strong again next season and will look to improve off of their fourth place national finish.
Looking to return to the powerhouse they once were, the football team had a fairly strong season. They finished the regular season with a 6–2 record and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2011. It’s been seven years since the green and white advanced beyond the semifinals and the wait continues, following a heart wrenching 47–39 loss to the University of Manitoba Bisons in a game that saw the Huskies leading 37–18 in the third quarter. This will be added to the now long list of playoff failures the Dogs have had to endure in recent memory and will certainly be something they hope to avenge next season.
Only graduating a handful of players, the upward trend will hopefully continue next year for the Huskies. That being said, they do lose two important pieces in Academic All-Canadian safety Mark Ingram and receiver Kit Hillis.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish — which speaks volumes about the men’s volleyball season. They battled injuries all year, with many starters missing extended time, and in the end it was too much to overcome to make the CanWest playoffs, as they missed by just a single game.
That was not the end of their season however, as the U of S was playing host to the CIS men’s volleyball championships. They drew the eighth and final seed for the tournament and put forth a gutsy effort in front of a packed house in their quarter-final matchup with the McMaster University Marauders. After a tough loss, the team rebounded impressively with a pair of wins over two good teams to finish fifth in the country.
It was a tough year all around for the women’s volleyball team. They wound up second last in the conference with a disappointing record of 5–19 and won just once in their final 11 games. To make matters worse, an internal controversy came to light in January and led to the suspension of fourth-year head coach Jason Grieve. The team responded positively following the news and beat the Manitoba Bisons 3–0 in what would turn out to be their final victory of the season.
Outside hitter Emily Humbert was a bright spot for the team, as her consistent play all season gave the Huskies some traction. The team has no graduating players and will look to be a more experienced and competitive group in 2015–16.
Image: Stephanie Mah/Graphics Editor