By Martin Cleary
The coveted Panda Game is on the horizon and the Carleton University Ravens and the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees both need a victory as much as they want to take home the trophy named after Pedro.
Heading into Sunday’s crosstown clash, the Ravens, 2-2, are riding a two-game winning streak. On the other hand, the Gee-Gees, also 2-2, are dragging a two-game losing streak.
As both teams head into the second half of their OUA football schedule with only four games left in the regular season, wins are a must at this time to bolster playoff ambitions.
The Gee-Gees have won the last four Panda Games (2018-22, no game 2020), after Carleton held the trophy for four consecutive years (2014-17). The rivalry game started in 1955 and the Gee-Gees have 36 wins, while the Ravens have 17.
After losing their first two games to teams that are now in a three-way tie for first place at 5-0 – Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks 20-15 and Western University Mustangs 31-21 – the Ravens balanced their record by feasting on the two Toronto universities.
On the heels of a 52-0 triumph over the York University Lions, Carleton shut down the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 46-7 at home on Saturday.
Quarterback Tristan Lefebvre completed 27 of 41 pass attempts for 329 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception. When the Ravens were close to the Blues’ goal line, Lefebvre connected with Frederick Hachey for two touchdowns, covering seven and nine yards. Hachey’s third touchdown pass reception was delivered by quarterback Elijah Barnes.
Lefebvre also linked with Tristan Ready for a 20-yard touchdown play and Hunter Brown for a 17-yard major score.
The Ravens, who also added a team safety, had 14 kicking points from Brandon Forcier – field goals from 27, 31 and 24 yards, and five converts.
Lefebvre looked to three receivers for the majority of his passing yardage – Brown (five catches for 98 yards), Ready (four for 78) and Hachey (six for 69).
Meanwhile, Western displayed its powerful, two-way offensive attack, outscoring the Gee-Gees 36-7 in the second half. The Gee-Gees only trailed 14-10 at halftime.
The Mustangs gained 650 yards total offence from 65 plays for a 9.9-yard-per-play average. They passed the ball for 329 yards and stayed on the ground for 321 yards rushing.
Running back Amlicar Polk gained 140 yards of the Gee-Gees’ 155 total rushing yards. It was his fourth straight game of earning more than 100 yards on the ground. He had touchdown runs of 59 yards and one yard. His 59-yard touchdown run opened the scoring of the game.
Campbell Fair added a pair of converts and a 41-yard field goal.
RAVENS MEN’S SOCCER TEAM REMAINS UNDEFEATED
The undefeated Carleton University Ravens strengthened their lead in OUA East Conference men’s soccer with a seventh consecutive win, after defeating Laurentian University Voyageurs 5-1 and Nipissing University Lakers 2-0 during its Northern Ontario swing.
Darren Bouaziz scored the game-winning goal in the second half against the Lakers on Sunday and assisted on the insurance tally by Devyn Viegas. Tyler David registered the three-shot-save shutout for the Ravens.
In its Saturday game, Bouaziz scored Carleton’s opening goal against the Voyageurs and had offensive help from teammates Tareq Hamad, Eric Yoseke, Timi Aliu and Yusuf Osman.
Meanwhile in OUA women’s East Conference soccer, the undefeated University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the first-place and equally unbeaten Queen’s University Gaels finished in a scoreless draw. The Gaels are 6-0-1, while the Gee-Gees are fourth at 3-0-1.
Carleton, 3-1-2, is alone in third place after scoring a pair of ties – 0-0 against Laurentian and 2-2 against second-place Nipissing.
Salena Devellis and Chloe Dorion shared the goal scoring for the Ravens against the Lakers. Chloe Lachance-Soulard made four saves for the shutout in the Laurentian game, while forward Chloe Dorion had a team-high five shots with three on net.
GEE-GEES ROLL TO ONE-SIDED RSEQ WOMEN’S RUGBY WINS
The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees flexed their muscles on both sides of the ball in RSEQ women’s rugby, posting 130 points and not allowing a single point in a pair of lopsided victories.
On Thursday, the second-place Gee-Gees, 3-1, ran past the Carleton University Ravens 68-0 and three days later blanked McGill University Redbirds 62-0.
Emmanuela Anya, Tylo Borsboom and Ngozi Mosindi counted three trys each for the Gee-Gees against Carleton, while Isabelle Grise had two trys and Aurora Bowie added a single try. Jamie Lee Walker kicked four converts.
In the McGill match, eight Gee-Gee players recorded trys. Mercedes Cole and Ella Blyth lead the way with two trys apiece and Quynh-Ni Au, Bowie, Alysia Comtois, Taelor Hendrick, Julia Jagannathan and Rachel Steel had one each. Bowie and Walker were each responsible for three converts.
Carleton is in fourth place at 3-2, following a 47-5 decision over Bishop’s University Gaiters.
Joleen Mason paced the Ravens with two trys and single trys were scored by Madison Cunha, Esa Hobbs, Charlotte Ross, Jayden Spence and Claire Vandesande. Converts were kicked by Kaitlyn Cox (five) and Megan Meade (one).
OLYMPIC ENTRY ON HOLD FOR CANADIAN WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM
The Canadian women’s volleyball team will have to wait until June to see if its ranking will be good enough to earn it a berth in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games.
Despite winning five of its seven games, the national team fell short of capturing a top-two position in its pool for a direct Olympic entry during the Women’s Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ningbo, China.
Canada’s only losses were to the first-and second-place teams in its pool – Dominican Republic, 6-1, and Serbia, 5-2.
In its final three matches, Canada defeated Ukraine (25-22, 23-25, 25-12, 25-11), Mexico (25-22, 25-22, 25-21) and Czechia (25-20, 25-19, 25-21).
The Canadian team included Ottawa’s Vicky Savard, who scored four attack points, and Ottawa’s Shainah Joseph, who had three attack points and one service point.
Five more Olympic berths will be awarded after the conclusion of 2024 Volleyball Nations League play to the teams with the five highest world ranking points, though each continent must be represented. Canada, ranked 11th globally, currently occupies the fifth and final available slot out of non-qualified teams, but will likely have to jump one spot higher since one berth needs to be allocated to an African team, currently ranked lower.
JEROME CHASE WINS 2 GOLF TITLES IN ONE TOURNAMENT
Royal Ottawa Golf Club’s Jerome Chase was a double champion at the Golf Canada NextGen Fall Series East Championship at Milby, PQ.
Chase finished at even-par at 216 for the 54-hole tournament as rounds of 73-68-75 earned him the boys’ junior- and bantam-age titles.
Ben Sheridan of the Ottawa Hunt was eighth in the junior field at seven-over-par 223 from rounds of 73-75-75. Atlas Ibit of GreyHawk tied for 10th at 76-77-72 for a nine-over-par 225.
Shinyao Zhang of Gatineau and Avery Nordman of Canadian tied for fourth in the girls’ junior class at 24-over-par 240. Zhang carded rounds of 79-83-78, while Nordman went 85-78-77.
Royal Ottawa’s Michael Vivone was fourth in boys’ bantam at 77-78-75 for a 14-over-par 230.
SPEED SKATERS PREPARING FOR CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ottawa athletes were in fine form at the Fall Classic long-track speed skating competition in Calgary.
Ivanie Blondin continues to work on being an all-around skater, placing third in the women’s 1,000 metres in one minute, 15.91 seconds, and seventh over 500 metres in 39.31 seconds.
Vincent De Haitre was third in the men’s 1,500 metres in 1:46.07, which was only 0.07 seconds behind bronze-medallist Tyson Langelaar.
Isabelle Weidemann was the only skater in the women’s 3,000 metres and posted a time of 4:05.11.
Rachel Mallard skated a personal-best time of 2:08.08 to finish 13th in the women’s 1,500 metres.
NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION CYCLING FUNDS 4 ATHLETES
The National Capital Region Cycling bursary committee was formed in 2000 to provide funding “to athletes (who) display both outstanding athletic ability and the desire to achieve greater goals.”
Past bursary winners include Osgoode’s Derek Gee, who had four second-place results at the 2023 Giro d’Italia for Israel-Premier Tech, Gatineau’s Ariane Bonhomme, who competed for Canada on the track at the 2020 Olympics, and Ottawa’s Alex Cataford, a professional road racer for 10 years, including the past four with Israel-Premier Tech, before announcing his retirement.
The 2023 bursary winners are: Filipe Duarte, Gatineau, $2,500; Skye Pellerin, Ottawa, $1,500; Henrique Martins, Gatineau, $1,500 and Julien Desjardins, Gatineau, $1,000.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
· Catcher Sam Byers of the Watson Elite Baseball Club, left-handed pitcher Logan Forgie of Ottawa and the Ontario Blue Jays and outfielder Preston Schwarz of the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians attended the Canadian Futures Showcase at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
· West Ottawa Soccer Club’s Katya Alexis, Charlotte Murray-Martin and Sloane Southcombe have been invited to attend the Canada Soccer National Development Centre-Ontario identification event.
· Gloucester’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe of New Zealand lost the Guadalajara Open women’s tennis doubles final 3-6, 6-2, 10-4 to Storm Hunter of Australia and Elise Mertens of Belgium. Dabrowski was aiming for her 15th WTA women’s doubles title.
· Ottawa’s Michael Woods of Israel-Premier Tech placed 32nd overall and 19th in the mountain classification during the 83rd Skoda Tour Luxembourg cycling stage race. His best individual result was a 13th in Stage 1.
· A pair of Ottawa canoe slalom paddlers represented Canada at the 2023 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Lee Valley, UK. Lois Betteridge placed 46th in the event women’s kayak event, 51st in women’s canoe and 35th in women’s kayak cross, while Mael Rivard was 87th in men’s kayak and 60th in men’s kayak cross.
· Left-footed placement kicker Jad Olleik booted a 51-yard field goal, but the Ottawa Sooners fell 28-26 to the Ontario Football Conference-leading St. Clair Saints. The Sooners had their three-game winning streak snapped and are in fourth place at 3-4.
· Hylands’ Lise Jubinville and Brenda Pilon won the Ottawa Valley Golf Association women’s A-flight Ryder Cup competition, while Jaegar Prot of Renfrew and Matt MacMillan of Sand Point teamed for the men’s A-flight title.
· Ottawa’s Leonarda Andric posted a 1-1 match record to earn the bronze medal in the women’s 62-kilogram taekwondo class at the Pan American President’s Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
· University of Ottawa nordic ski team’s Emma Archibald and Milo Sircom-Brown were named athletes of the year by Cross-Country Nova Scotia.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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