|2011 Seneca Sting Men's Rugby squad proudly sporting their OCAA Silver Medals.|
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
By: Michael Katz, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
It would be easy for the Seneca Sting Varsity Men’s Rugby team to hang their heads after a devastating loss in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Division I Final to cross-town rival Humber. But that was not the case, and nor should it have been after a truly remarkable season for the Sting.
Seneca began the season with 16 rookies on its roster, and an improvement on last year’s 4-3 record did not appear to be in the cards. However the Sting won their opening match of the year at Trent and didn’t look back, running the table until their 43-13 loss to Humber in Saturday’s Championship Final.
Following the defeat, Head Coach Bob McArthur, Sting bench boss for 14 years, acknowledged the youth and lack of experience on his roster, but he refused to use it as an excuse for his team’s loss.
“Our team is dramatically different than last year, but it happens all the time. People graduate and the team changes and it’s a growth process,” said McArthur.
A growth process it may have been, but this Sting squad gelled quickly, shifting their status from pretender to contender just a few matches into the season. Heading into the OCAA Gold Medal Game, McArthur was very confident in his squad primarily because of their rapid progression as a team.
After their semi-final victory over Mohawk, the longtime head coach was optimistic and proud of his squad.
“The team is playing great together. We’ve played well in every position, and we battled our hardest for one another.”
Of course, the team could not be successful without a few experienced players to lead the charge. For a second straight season, fly half Matt Raguseo was elected as an OCAA Division I All Star, while also earning the honour of OCAA Division I Player of the Year for the first time.
Meanwhile, second-year scrum half Chris Boake, an OCAA All Star last season was awarded Man of the Match in this year’s OCAA Final game.
Boake was very excited heading into the Gold Medal Match.
“We’ve been rebuilding for a while now, and making the OCAA Final is a pretty big deal for Seneca.”
Rags (Matt Raguseo) shared similar sentiments as his teammate.
“The team progressed significantly, particularly in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Unfortunately, when it came time to the Gold Medal matchup, the Sting squad just could not match the more experienced Humber Hawks.
As coach McArthur put it “Humber played really well, they took away all of our time and space.”
It was this same Humber Hawks squad that took down undefeated Mohawk in the OCAA Final last year as well.
Also not to be forgotten was Jarrett Hamilton, the Sting’s other 2011 OCAA All Star who went down with a shoulder injury in the opening minutes of the match.
As Boakey (Chris Boake) said “losing Hamilton was a huge blow to our pack which forced us to change our game plan,” an injury that ultimately cost Seneca in the Gold Medal match.
Rookie forward, Jordan Lofthouse, agreed with Boake saying “several players including Hamilton went down early and we couldn’t recover.”
However, that would be as far as the Sting would go in terms of discussing the loss. Despite the defeat, they proudly acknowledged what they accomplished throughout the year and began looking toward next season.
Several veterans will be leaving the team, however 16 players who began the year as rookies gained invaluable experience that most student-athletes may never get the chance to in their entire OCAA careers. This will certainly come to benefit a hungry Seneca team in 2012-2013, which will be determined to settle for nothing less than a gold medal next year.
Lofthouse is ready to step up into his new role and can’t wait to get next season started.
“A lot of the veterans are leaving, meaning I’ll become a leader for the forwards and my goal will be to make sure everyone is intense and ready to play.”
Chris Boake believes the team will be “a lot more prepared and confident on the field next year,” after experiencing this Gold Medal Game loss. He also anticipates that the team will be back in the playoffs to contend for a gold medal next season.
Bob McArthur made sure his team knew how proud he was of them and how excited he will be going into next season. He spoke with the club in their final season scrum after the game and made sure his team recognized what they accomplished this season. He thanked them for the season – and for the fact that they competed all year.
One thing is certain heading into next season; with Rags, Boakey, Lofthouse and a handful of determined sophomores on the roster, this team will be one to watch in 2012.
|Sting player drives to the net versus the Durham Lords.|
By: Michael Katz, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
What a start to the year for Seneca’s Varsity Women’s basketball team. They began the 2011-2012 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) campaign with what was likely their toughest match-up all season, squaring off on the road in Ottawa at Algonquin College against the defending champions. In a spirited affair, the Sting used an impressive balanced attack to squeak-out a surprising 61-59 victory. This was the Sting’s first victory at Algonquin College in two seasons.
Sting Head Coach Craig Walker said, “it was an extremely exciting win against Algonquin and a huge bonus winning on the road. It should put us in a good spot for the playoffs.”
Those are pretty confident words spoken by a head coach only three games into a new season. However, thus far his team has done nothing to make him question that confidence. The Sting are 3-0 after two impressive home wins against Centennial and Durham last week.
Coach Walker prides himself on the fact that his teams emphasize the defensive aspects of the game.
“The focus of the team at practice is defense, it’s our bread and butter.”
The message seems to be coming across loud and clear, as the Sting have not surrendered more than 59 points in a game so far this season. Furthermore, it seems to be a message that has been instilled in all of his players.
First-year guard, Tara Minicuci (Veterinary Technician) reinforced the coach’s philosophy, “sticking to our game plan defensively is the key for us to win games.”
Paige Smith (Business Administration – H.R.), another rookie on the squad, preached the same message saying, “the team’s identity comes through our defense.”
In addition to the team’s phenomenal defensive play, both players gave full marks to their captain Tamara Nembhard for her outstanding performances over the early parts of the season.
Minicuci says, “Tamara is playing really well. She does a phenomenal job encouraging everyone throughout the games.”
Smith added “she has such a great attitude, which keeps everyone pumped up.”
While speaking with Nembhard (Early Childhood Education) about the team’s early season success, it was apparent that she could not have been more thrilled - particularly with its opening game victory. Now in her third season with The Sting, Nembhard’s teams had yet to defeat Algonquin at home, and the captain was still raving about the match even as it rested in her rearview mirror.
Nembhard said “I’m so happy about the win, it means so much to me. I love my team for it.”
After reaching the OCAA bronze medal last year, Nembhard is motivated to improve on last season’s results. She believes that if the team remains committed to becoming more of a unit on defense they will continue to have success in the Win-column.
The third-year player seems to be exactly what Coach Walker wants out of a captain: A determined athlete who believes in the philosophies being implemented by the coach and executes accordingly.
Walker, a coach at Seneca in his 12th season, said “Tamara is a tremendous leader who has grown so much and become such a reliable player for us. As she goes, we go.”
That’s some high praise being directed towards the team captain - but it doesn’t seem to faze her.
As Tamara said, “all I’m concerned about is going out and being a team player.”
This is particularly clear through her very obvious lead-by-example philosophy.
“Defense wins games, and a good defense will allow us to reward ourselves on offense,” added Nembhard.
And that’s great news for Walker and the Sting, who seem to be on the same page early. They were most recently ranked first overall in the OCAA Power Rankings. The Sting aim to continue their early season success in hopes of appearing in the gold medal match of the OCAA Championship in the near future.
The Sting Women’s Basketball team play their next three games at Newnham Campus Gymnasium (Building G, Sports Centre). Come out and cheer on the club vs. St. Lawrence on November 18th at 6 PM, vs. Loyalist on November 19th at 1 PM and vs. Fleming on November 22nd at 6 PM.
Meanwhile, the Men’s Basketball team started the season off and running with a road victory of their own against La Cité. Head coach Wayne Dawkins sees some real promise with his young squad, who are trying to get back on the OCAA podium for the first time in 20 years.
Dawkins said, “I love our willingness to scrap and get on the floor.”
The fifth year head coach believes the physical edge will be a key component to the team’s success throughout the season. In the meantime, the team is suffering through some early season growing pains while featuring several rookies on the roster. After back-to-back losses to Algonquin and Centennial, he believes there is plenty of room for improvement.
“The team is going through growing pains and it will take sometime to put all the parts together,” said the Sting coach.
However, he remains quite confident in the squad’s overall abilities.
He said “there are plenty of positives to build on, and an [OCAA] medal is never out of reach.”
The Sting will get a big boost in the second half of the season, as several key players will be returning to the squad. The head coach believes the fusion of experienced players with the current roster will result in an exciting second half. He also had a few words for Seneca students who are looking for something to do in their spare time:
“The sixth man is one of the biggest memories one can create and have during their college experience.” He was adamant in expressing his desire for more Senecans to make their way out to come and support the club.”
With the team slowly finding its footing and more experienced players on the way, Dawkins is fired-up.
“It will be a whole new ball game come next semester.”
Alert to fellow Senecans: Get your popcorn ready, and come out and cheer on the squad!
The Sting Men’s Basketball team plays their next three games at Newnham Campus Gymnasium (Building G, Sports Centre). Come out and support the club vs. St. Lawrence on November 18th at 8 PM, vs. Loyalist on November 19th at 3 PM and vs. Fleming on November 22nd at 8 PM.
|Seneca Sting Women's Varsity Volleyball Alumni Pose for a Team Photo from Alumni Games in Oct. 2011|
By: Michael Katz, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
It was a fun Saturday afternoon in late October at Seneca’s Newnham Gymnasium as many of Seneca’s varsity alums returned to the place where it all started. It was a rare opportunity for those who returned to relive great memories and play on their home floor, once again, against the 2011 Seneca Sting varsity squads.
Some of the Women’s Volleyball Alumni in attendance took a few minutes to reflect on their time at Seneca following their match against the current varsity student-athletes.
Program: Lab Technician (1993-1996)
Current Occupation: Physio & OT Assistant at Centennial Hospital
Fondest Memory as a Seneca Athlete: Winning three straight OCAA championships
(FUN FACT – The Sting won 7 straight OCAA Championships from 1989-1995)
Alumni Game Appearance: 5th
Comment on 2011-2012 Sting: “This year’s Seneca squad is pretty good. They need to stay positive and never give up, even if they fall behind late in games.”
Program: Post Graduate Communications and Public Relations (2007-2008)
Fondest Memory as a Seneca Athlete: “The road trips with the team were the best! We were a very small and close knit team.”
Alumni Game Appearance: “First alumni game, it was a ton of fun. Even though we lost, we put up a decent fight.”
Comment on 2011-2012 Sting: “They have really good blocks, and a lot of back court hitting. Keep up the
Program: Broadcast Journalism (2009-2011)
Fondest Memory as a Seneca Athlete: “I miss the regular routine practices and work-outs. I also miss the family-oriented bond I had with the team.”
Alumni Game Appearance: 1st
Comment on 2011-2012 Sting: “They played well. They still need to learn each other’s tendencies, however with a coach like Shane [Timms], they’ll be really good by the end of the year.”
From the perspective of the current Sting team the Alumni Games were a rewarding experience. First-year player Guilia DiGiorgio reinforced the positives vibes from the day.
“It was a fun game, it was a day to have fun, it’s what the Alumni Games are all about.”
However, DiGiorgio believes the team needs to work on its focus and preparation. A lack of both of those qualities resulted in a loss to the Alumni in the third set.
All in all, the Sting Women’s Volleyball squad held their own, taking three of four sets from the Alumni.
Meanwhile, it was a different story for the Seneca Sting Varsity Men’s Volleyball team, who had their hands full with a determined alumni squad.
The Alums were full of pride and confidence in their veteran savvy after taking 3 of 4 games from the 2011 version of the Sting.
Program: International Business (1998-2000)
Current Occupation: Business Entrepreneur & Creator of filemytickets.com
Fondest Memory as a Seneca Athlete: Recorded 7 digs in a single game against Humber while he was a member of the Seneca squad. Fleishman says it “sealed his love for the game of volleyball.”
Alumni Game Appearance: 2nd
Comment on 2011-2012 Sting: “They looked pretty good, but seemed to be fighting some early season nerves. The old guys won today, but that could change by the end of the season.”
Program: Computer Programming Analysis (2001-2005)
Current Occupation: Web Developer
Fondest Memory as a Seneca Athlete: Making the finals and the feeling of having a second family.
Alumni Game Appearance: “It’s my fourth alumni game! I love coming back!”
Comment on 2011-2012 Sting: “This year’s squad has a lot of talent. They need to show more emotion on the court, volleyball is meant to be fun.”
Program: Photography and Pre-Media
Current Occupation: LCBO Marketing Department
Fondest Memory as a Seneca Athlete: “Making Nationals, and winning two Silver Medals.”
Comment on 2011-2012 Sting: “They’re a young team, they need to play more as a team. They serve quite well.”
Fourth-year Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Shane Timms thinks the alumni game is a great event for all former and current Seneca athletes.
Assistant coaches Mike Haines and Andrew McCutcheon are both alumni, and Timms believes they are vital to the success of his team.
After a rough outing against the Alumni, he says “the team needs to show more consistency. There were too many unforced errors, and the team must compete for every single point in order to be successful.”
However, Timms’ confidence in the squad still remains, as he thinks the squad has the skill to compete for a gold medal.