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04.05.2019
March Madness at Senior Nationals as Dollard Black and Mavericks Win Senior National Championships

After an incredible three-day competition in Markham, ON, Dollard Black and Mavericks were crowned Senior National Champions in the men’s and women’s categories, respectively this past weekend at the Markham Pan Am Centre. The talents of many of the best water polo players in the country were on display as sixteen teams competed for the coveted title of Canadian National Champions.

The Championships opened on Friday with eight quarterfinals matches. The first women’s match was between #4 seed Calgary Renegades and #5 seed Dollard. With the game tied 1-1 in the second, the Renegades offense came to life as they would score five goals in the quarter taking a 6-2 lead into the third. Dollard tried to respond in the third and fourth, but the Renegades offence would match them goal for goal. The Renegades would eventually go on to win the game 12-7 and advance to the semi-final.

In the second quarter-final, defending champions and 3rd seeded CAMO faced off against #6 Edmonton Tsunami. CAMO would start the game on a 5-0 run and would not look back from there, going on to win the game 11-7 and keep their title defence alive.

The third women’s quarter-final featured #1 Mavericks and #8 Capital Wave. Despite the difference in rankings, Capital Wave kept things close in the first and entered the second quarter only down 2-1. Mavericks would take over after that however, as they would score seven of the next nine goals and would eventually go on to win 11-6.

The final women’s quarter-final was between #2 Saskatchewan and #7 St-Lambert. The game showed off Saskatchewan’s high-powered offence and fearsome counter-attack, as they put up twenty-two goals to win by a score of 22-9.

The first men’s quarter-final featured defending champion #4 Dollard Black against #5 Saskatchewan. The game was close early, but Saskatchewan broke out to a 6-2 lead with five minutes left the game and looked well on their way to the semi-finals. With their backs against the wall, Dollard Black continued to fight, and they were able to pull within a goal with under a minute to go. With just sixteen seconds remaining, Dollard’s Justin Boyd tied the game on a late bullet shot. In the shootout, Dollard twice needed to score in order to stay alive and both times they were able to convert. Finally, after fourteen shooters, Harrison Watt found the winner to advance DDO.

Amazingly, the second quarter-final was able to match the level of the previous game, as #3 Calgary Torpedoes faced off against #6 Ottawa Titans Blue. The game was tight with no one having more than a two-goal lead throughout. With one minute remaining the Torpedoes were up 7-6, but the Titans would tie things up on a goal by Spence Thomson with 37 seconds remaining to send a 2nd consecutive quarter-final to a shootout. In a reversal from the previous game, Torpedoes were able to recover from surrendering the last-minute tying goal and prevailed by a score of 3-2 in the shootout.

The level of intensity would not abate in the third quarter-final as #1 St-Lambert-Laval faced #8 CAMO. St-Lambert-Laval showed their skill early as they ran out to a 6-1 lead. CAMO never gave in though and mounted a comeback that whittled the deficit to one goal with two minutes remaining. It was looking like there was going to be a third shootout in a row when CAMO got the ball with less than thirty seconds to go, but CAMO could not find the equalizer and the top seed advanced to the semi-finals.

The last quarter-final game of the day featured #2 Toronto Golden Jets and #7 Mavericks. The Golden Jets made sure to avoid any drama in this game, using strong play on both sides of the ball to record a 10-2 victory.

The Saturday began with Classification games as Dollard and Edmonton Tsunami advanced to the Women’s 5th place game on Sunday with victories over Capital Wave and St-Lambert respectively. Saskatchewan and Ottawa Titans Blue advanced to the Men’s 5th place game as well with their victories over CAMO and Mavericks.

After the classification games, the Women’s semi-finals began. The first game pitted the Renegades against Mavericks. The game was incredibly close throughout, but when Julia Patterson scored on a penalty shot with 1:06 left in the 4th quarter to put Calgary ahead, it looked like it might have been the end of the road for Mavericks. A last-minute exclusion would give Mavericks one last chance to tie, and as the seconds ticked down on the power play, Madeleine Bisaillon beautifully received a cross-pool pass and skipped the ball into the lower corner to tie the game. Another shootout would be needed to decide who would advance to the Finals, and it was Mavericks would find the back of the net three times to Calgary’s one to secure their right to play for the Championship.

The second semi-final featured the two most recent Senior National Champions in Saskatchewan and CAMO. While in the previous game, Saskatchewan showed their offence, in this match, they showed off their defence as they allowed only six goals from CAMO all game. The offence did what it needed, capitalizing on numerous counter attacks to knock out the defending champions 11-6.

On the men’s side, Dollard Black faced off against St-Lambert-Laval and just like in their quarter-final, Dollard started slow and fell behind by a score of 5-1. Despite the early deficit, Dollard were not fazed, and they started to play with the confidence of a team that has pulled out so many close games in the past few years. DDO would score six of the next seven goals to take the lead 7-6. St-Lambert-Laval showed their own resolve by tying the game with one minute left and sending the game to yet another shootout. In the shootout, Dollard goalie Chris Jackson stepped up in a big way as St-Lambert-Laval were unable to score on any of their attempts and Dollard advanced to their 2nd straight Final by a score of 9-7.

The last semi-final was a defensive battle between the Golden Jets and Torpedoes. These two teams faced off last year in the bronze medal game, with the Torpedoes coming out on top, but the Golden Jets were able to flip the script in 2019, relying on the fantastic play of goalie Emirhan Ozdemir to keep Calgary at bay and win the match 7-6.

The last two games of Saturday and the first two games on Sunday featured the 7th place games and 5th place games. In the women’s 7th place game, St-Lambert would defeat Capital Wave 11-8. In the men’s game, CAMO would defeat the Mavericks in a close one, 11-10. On Sunday the women’s 5th place game saw another close game as Dollard defeated Edmonton Tsunami 11-9. In the men’s 5th place game Saskatchewan would score six of the last seven goals to come back and defeat Ottawa Titans Blue 15-11.

In the women’s bronze medal match, familiar foes faced off against one another. Almost half of the Renegades team was on the Alberta Black squad that lost to CAMO in the gold medal match last year. This year, the girls from Alberta let their defence control the game. Throughout the match, the Renegades would not let CAMO get any breathing room in the offensive zone. Shelby Taylor supplied the offence with half of the Renegades goals, and goalie Serena Bredin made some key saves to propel the team to a 10-2 victory.

In men’s bronze medal match, a second Calgary team in a row showed off their defence skills. The Torpedoes’ defence was stifling, and the goalie tandem of Ivan Marcisin and Aleksa Stanic only allowed one goal each. George Galanos and Jared McElroy provided the offence with eight goals between the two of them as they helped the Torpedoes win 10-2 and earn back-to-back bronze medals.

In the women’s gold medal game, top-seeded Mavericks faced off against a very talented Saskatchewan squad. The Mavericks were the local favourite of the tournament, and it showed during the finals as the crowd would erupt after each Mavericks goal. There was much to cheer about for both teams as they battled back and forth. Mavericks were up two at half-time, but Saskatchewan pulled within one in the 3rd quarter courtesy of two Taeghen Hack goals. Early in the fourth, Saskatchewan would tie the game at seven, but the Mavericks would answer when Rae Lekness scored her fourth goal of the game on a penalty shot. As the seconds wound down, Mavericks were holding a one-goal lead with Sask hoping to mount one last attack. Sask needed a stop to get the ball back, but a great give and go between Christi Bardecki and Tournament MVP Sarah Myers led to the clinching goal for Mavericks. Mavericks would defeat Saskatchewan 10-8 and win their first ever NCL Senior National Championship.

In the final game of the tournament, the men’s champions from the previous two Senior Nationals, Dollard Black and Toronto Golden Jets, faced off. Even though they were the defending champions, Dollard Black came in as the underdogs as they were the #4 seed compared to the #2 seeded Golden Jets. Despite the game being played near the Golden Jets home turf, many fans from Montreal made the trek to cheer on Dollard Black, and the result was an electric atmosphere. Unlike the previous two games where they faced big deficits to overcome, Dollard came out firing in the final and scored four of the first five goals to open a 4-1 lead early. Toronto would make a comeback bid in the third and fourth with some excellent defence and smart passing. Chris Jackson would continue to hold the fort for DDO though, and Andrew Robinson would score a key 4th quarter goal to preserve Dollard Black’s edge. Golden Jets closed within one goal in the final two minutes, but DDO was able to hold off the Jets over the frenetic final seconds and clinch their second consecutive Men’s National Championship.

The 2019 Senior National Championships were an incredible weekend of water polo. The competing teams were so closely matched that any outcome seemed possible. Both eventual champions were trailing in the final minute of tournament games and had to survive shootouts on their paths to the Championship. The margins between victory and defeat were remarkably small, and if the event was played three times over, it would not be a surprise to see three different sets of champions. Water Polo Canada would like to thank everyone who made this event possible, including our fantastic partners at the City of Markham and with the Ontario Government, as well as at the Mavericks Water Polo Club.

Final Rankings

Women

  1. Mavericks
  2. Saskatchewan
  3. Calgary Renegades
  4. CAMO
  5. Dollard
  6. Edmonton Tsunami
  7. St-Lambert
  8. Capital Wave 

Men

  1. Dollard Black
  2. Toronto Golden Jets
  3. Calgary Torpedoes
  4. St-Lambert-Laval
  5. Saskatchewan
  6. Ottawa Titans Blue
  7. CAMO
  8. Mavericks

Individual Awards

Women

  • Top Goal Scorer, Regular Season: Rae Lekness, Mavericks
  • Most Valuable Player, Regular Season: Rae Lekness, Mavericks
  • Most Valuable Defensive Player: Julia Patterson, Calgary Renegades and Ellen Rafferty, Saskatchewan
  • Most Valuable Goalie: Claire Wright, Mavericks
  • Most Valuable Coach: Bogdan Dubrovskiy, Mavericks
  • Most Valuable Player, Senior Nationals: Sarah Myers, Mavericks

Men

  • Top goal scorer, Regular Season: Patrick Ahmarani, Dollard Black
  • Most Valuable Player Regular Season: Jonathan Ruse, Ottawa Titans Blue
  • Most Valuable Defensive Player: Scott Robinson, Calgary Torpedoes
  • Most Valuable Goalie: Emirhan Ozdemir, Toronto Golden Jets
  • Most Valuable Coach: Evan Emory, Dollard Black
  • Most Valuable Player, Senior Nationals: Chris Jackson, Dollard Black
 
 
 
 

 


 
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