SFU sports year in review

How the Clan fared in its most prestigious sports in 2017

Women’s basketball:

A lot has changed for the Clan from the beginning of 2017. The 2016–17 season saw the women’s basketball team finish third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) with a 15–5 record, before being shocked by Central Washington University in the GNAC quarterfinals. The 2017–18 roster is shaped much differently, with an entirely new starting five for head coach Bruce Langford. Some of the highlights of the year include Ellen Kett breaking the single-game GNAC assist record with 20 assists in a game against Montana State Billings on February 18, and the team breaking the GNAC three-point-made record with 18 threes in a game against Academy of Art University on November 22. After being one of the best teams in the conference last season, however, the Clan is just 1–3 in conference play so far this campaign, winning the lone game on the last day of 2017.

Men’s basketball:

While there is still room to grow for the men’s basketball team, there are a lot of signs that the team is heading in the right direction. After finishing just 2–18 in conference play last season and 4–24 overall, the Clan already has a conference win this campaign and is 7–5 overall to start the season. Sophomore guards Michael Provenzano and Othniel Spence have progressed nicely, and seniors N’Kosi Kedar Salam (formally known as Kedar Wright), JJ Pankratz, and Iziah Sherman-Newsome are the three leading scorers on the team with efficient numbers. Salam, in particular, has increased his shooting percentage from .388 last season to .506 this one, which is basically unheard of. So, while 2017 may have left a lot to be desired, Simon Fraser has established the building blocks to make sure 2018 is a lot more successful.

Football:

2017 was a year to forget for the SFU football team. Finishing 0–8 in conference play and 0–10 overall, there were only two games in which SFU even made it close: a 28–34 loss to Arizona Christian University in the first game of the season, and a 21–24 loss to Western Oregon University in the last. Even with this, however, there are a few positives to take away as offensive lineman Brayden Gatland was named GNAC freshman of the year and wide receiver Gavin Cobb was named to the All-Conference Second Team for his role as a kick returner. While things seem to have already hit rock bottom, SFU athletics have yet to hire a new head coach after letting go of Kelly Bates. This doesn’t exactly scream “progress”, and leaves a lot of question marks for 2018.

Hockey:

2017 was another step forward for the SFU Hockey program, as they continue to cement themselves as a top team in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League. They finished the 2016–17 season first in the league with 18 wins in 24 games, and are currently third in the league with six wins in eleven. With two losses to end 2017, and without a regulation win since November 11, Simon Fraser will be looking to play more consistent hockey in 2018. Forward Tyler Basham currently leads the team with 11 points, while defenceman Mathew Berry-Lamontagna was a standout player for SFU throughout 2017.

Wrestling:

2017 was a great transitioning year for the Clan as head coach Justin Abdou was announced to lead the men and women’s wrestling programs in September after previous coach Mike Jones retired in the spring. The men’s wrestling program is currently ranked 11th in the NCAA Div II, while the women’s team continues to dominate and is ranked number one. The SFU Open was a huge success as SFU dominated the tournament once again. On top of this, Dominique Parrish’s road to the U23 world championships in Poland is a continuing reminder that SFU boasts one of the top wrestling programs in all of Canada, and even North America.  

Golf:

Both the men’s and women’s golf programs enjoyed fantastic years in 2017. On the women’s side, Emily Leung led the Clan as they won the GNAC championships in late April. On the men’s side, Chris Crisologo won his first individual GNAC championship in April, and has had an excellent start to the 2017–18 campaign. Crisologo won the Concordia Invitational in November before the golf season took a break over the winter, and was named the youngest member of Team Canada later that month. People are taking notice of SFU’s golfing excellence, as the program recently signed five new players during the early signing period to cap off a perfect 2017.  

Women’s soccer:

The 2017 season was a mixture of ups and downs for the women’s soccer team, which eventually finished with a 5–7 conference record and 7–9 record overall. While the team’s play was inconsistent, losing three-plus games in a row twice, one thing that did not lack consistency was the play of sophomore Emma Pringle. With 14 goals in 15 games, she led the GNAC with a 0.93 goal-per-game average, and was just one goal behind the leading scorer. Another huge positive was the play of Jenna-lee Baxter, who led the GNAC with 13 assists. Of all the games in 2017, however, the most memorable has to be the 8–0 victory that SFU enjoyed over Saint Martin’s in the senior’s last game on Terry Fox Field, where senior goalkeeper Priya Sandhu scored a penalty kick.  

Men’s soccer:

For the second straight year, an otherwise fantastic season by the Clan was tainted by a loss to Cal Poly Pomona. After winning the GNAC championship for the second straight season, the Clan lost 2–1 to Cal Poly after a controversial missed penalty call going against SFU in the national championships. Despite this, 2017 was a great year for Simon Fraser’s men’s soccer team, as they went undefeated at home and had an 11–3–4 overall record. Centre back Magnus Kristensen was given All-American first team honours, becoming the first three-time All-American in SFU history. Brothers Matteo and Marcello Polisi joined him on the All-West Region first team, while the Clan had nine players named to the GNAC All-Conference team.

Volleyball:

The Clan must feel like they got the short end of the stick in 2017, as an incredible stretch to end the season ended with them barely missing out on the playoffs. They finished the year with a 12–8 conference record and 15–13 overall record. After losing key players from last year, SFU struggled to start the season going 3–8 in all competitions out of the gate. They showed what they were made of in the second half of the campaign, however, going 7–2 to end the season highlighted by a 3–0 sweep of playoff team Alaska Anchorage. Tessa May, Jayme Bratsberg, and Angelica Kilberg all were given GNAC honours, while May was named an American Volleyball Coaches Association All-West Region honourable mention.

Swimming and Diving:

SFU Swimming and Diving continued to show why they must be taken seriously as national competitors in 2017. Adrian VanderHelm, MacKenzie Hamill, Jessica Gibson, Tim Woinoski, Kristen Olvet, and Miranda Stever all earned All-American honours during the calendar year, a sign of the excellence coming out of the SFU Swimming and Diving program. There is room for growth, however, and SFU acknowledged that, adding nationally recognized swim coach Mandi Smith to an already formidable coaching staff. With Gibson already qualifying for nationals this season, look for things to continue to go swimmingly for the Clan in 2018.

Cross country:

While the Clan enjoyed a successful 2017 campaign, you can be sure that the season ended with a sour taste in their mouths. The men’s and women’s teams both finished fourth at the NCAA West Regional Championships in November, with the men missing out on the National Tournament via tiebreaker to Western Oregon. Strong performances by Julia Howley and Miryam Bassett gave the two athlete All-American Honours at the National Tournament as the Clan women finished tenth. SFU should feel that they could have done better, however, as Addy Townsend was unable to compete due to an ankle injury suffered earlier that week.

Track and field:

While the end of Townsend’s cross country season was disappointing, what she accomplished during the track and field season was incredible. Both her and Vladislav Tsygankov had three All-American Honours each on the season, and SFU’s Townsend and Sophie Dodd led Team BC’s 4×400 women’s relay to gold at the Canada Games in August. SFU’s 2017 was capped off by signing five athletes from across the world for the recruiting class of 2018–19, and what will be remembered as a great year for the Clan.

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