The Peak may have been on a break, but SFU athletics certainly were not. Here’s what happened in the month and a bit since we’ve last published.
It’s been a tough stretch for the men’s basketball team. The team has gone 0–4 over the break, losing its first two games against fellow Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) members, Seattle Pacific and Saint Martins, before dropping both games in the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic against Tarleton State and Angelo State. They now have an overall record of 2–8, with both wins coming against the same team, Lindenwood University, back-to-back in November.
Perhaps the silver lining is that they are only 0–2 against conference opponents this season, the main record looked at when determining who makes the playoffs at the end of the season. With SFU playing only fellow GNAC members the rest of the season, it makes for a good opportunity to improve on this record, and SFU just maybe be in contention for a playoff spot down the stretch – something that was not the case last year.
To do that, they will have to hope that Kedar Wright stays healthy throughout and that Michael Provenzano remains consistent. Also, avoiding the Clan’s traditional January slump is key, as SFU lost all eight games in January in the 2015–16 season and went 2–8 in the 2014–15 season.
It was undoubtedly a tough way for the season to end. After making the playoffs for the first time in program history, SFU lost in the opening round against the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders 3–1. Emma Jennings and Tessa May both led SFU with 14 kills on the night, while Alison McKay had 24 digs to lead the Clan.
“Obviously, I’m proud of our team and what they’ve accomplished this year,” head coach Gina Schmidt told SFU Athletics afterwards. “It’s a lot of firsts for our program and I thought they represented SFU well tonight — we fought hard. NNU played a great game, and when it came down to it, they executed a few things just a little bit better than us.”
On December 11, SFU volleyball announced its 2017 recruiting class, with Farnaaz Johal, Mia Ricci, Bianca Te, and Julia Tays all committing to the Clan for next season. With the departure of seniors Alison McKay, Devon May, Emma Jennings and Tamara Nipp — all of whom were part of the starting lineup against Northwest Nazarene — these four players, along with returning ones, will be expected to pick up where this historic team left off.
It’s a different story for the women’s basketball team than for their male counterparts. The Clan went 2–1 over the break, with the lone loss coming against powerhouse Alaska Anchorage, who knocked them out of the playoffs last year. After that, they narrowly defeated Alaska Fairbanks and then Nova Southeastern. SFU now has a 10–2 overall record, good enough for the third-best overall record in the conference.
However, playoff spots are given to the best conference records, and the Clan are 1–1 in that regard. Like the men’s team, all of their remaining games are against conference opponents, meaning that now are the games that truly matter.
How this team fares going forward is an interesting question. They’re very likely going to make the playoffs once again, but what spot they will be in come playoff time is anybody’s guess. Right now, SFU sits sixth in the conference in scoring offence and fifth in scoring defence — right in the middle for both categories. While having Elisa Homer back will certainly help, this year’s team identity is yet to be determined.
SFU swimming had an impressive showing at the Husky Invitational on December 4, as the men finished first and women finished third. Individual wins from star swimmers Mackenzie Hamill and Adrian Vanderhelm helped propel the men to a first place finish. On the women’s side, Jessica Gibson set a SFU record with a time of 1:59.92 in the 200 yard backstroke, en route to a first place individual finish. Both Vanderhelm and Gibson were named MVPs of the tournament.
The Clan continued to roll over the break with back-to-back wins against the University of Victoria on December 2 and 3. SFU came out on top 4–3 on the second and 9–3 on the third.
The games were marked by SFU’s goal scorers coming up and producing. Tyler Basham had three goals and two assists over the two games, including the game winner on December 2 with just over a minute left. Daniell Lange had three goals over two games as well, and Mitch Crisanti had a five-point night on December 3. SFU is first in the standings heading into the restart of the season, which begins the weekend of January 13.