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News Article

04.03.2020
NCL News - 2019-2020 Season


While the National Championship League season ended earlier than anyone wanted, there were still some great stories, athletes and games that Water Polo Canada would like to highlight.

 

16 and under

 

Starting in 16U, KW’s Sarah Alexander had a phenomenal season. In 17 games, Alexander scored an amazing 76 goals. Her statement game came against Capital Wave-DDO, where she scored 11 goals in the game to pace her team to a 19-4 win. What is even more incredible is that Alexander is not even one of the older 16U’s as she is still just 14 years old. While the season, unfortunately, ended early, it seems we will be hearing more about her at the 16U level for quite some time.

 

While Sarah Alexander led the league in goals, Fraser Valley’s Sarah Portas had the highest goals per game with almost 5. Portas played only 14 games, but she also had a great season as she scored 69 goals. Her big game was not one where she scored the most but actually the one she scored one of her least. After a tough loss to the Calgary Renegades, Fraser Valley could not afford to lose any other games the rest of the weekend as Saskatchewan was closing in. Just two games later, they would face off against each other in a battle for first place. It was close the entire game, and late in the 4th with the game tied at 9,  Portas would score only her second goal of the game but the eventual game-winner.

 

On the boy’s side, Mahmoud Rouby of Mavericks led the league in goals (78) and points (97). On Dec 14 against the Ottawa Titans Blue, he scored 9 goals on 9 shots while also securing 6 assists during the game. While the past few years, the Mavericks have been unquestionably the best team in their age category, this year, they faced some very tough challenges, which makes Rouby’s achievements even more remarkable.

 

Moving West is the tag team of Mateo Curak and Jacob Lucci of West Coast Warriors. Both players sit in the top ten for points with 63 and 59, respectively. Their consistent play had led them to a tie with Calgary Torpedoes for first place in the division. In the division, one must recognize Camilo Cortes of Edmonton Tsunami, who had an astounding 72 steals during the year. To put that in perspective, the next closest person had 42. While the Tsunami had a tough year, Cortes was definitely a bright spot.

 

19 and under

 

Moving on to 19U, Alicia Petkov of CAMO had a great season with 61 goals in 13 games. She has adjusted well to 19U as she was the top scorer in the 16U Eastern Conference last year with 82 goals. During the season, Petkov has had three games where she had a perfect 100% shooting percentage, including a six-goal game against Tiburon.

 

In the West, because of the competitiveness of the division, the top 5 scorers were represented by all five teams. Taeghen Hack had the all-around best year as she sits second in goals with 30, second in assists with 20, first in points (50) and first in steals (30). Her three goals in the Crossover Championship were also the difference as Saskatchewan would win the game 8-5. Another impressive feat this year in the West was Fraser Valley's Emma Lawson, who was a perfect 48-0 in swim-offs. While others also had 100% sprints, no one was even close to the amount of attempts Lawson had, which made her feat all the more impressive.

 

On the Men's side, Leno Salamon is another 16U move up that is adjusting well to 19U. Last year in 16U, he had 48 goals, while this year in 19U, he has 57 goals and 79 points. In the second game of the season, he finished with 5 goals and 5 assists to help his team defeat Tiburon 18-10. Speaking of Tiburon, Jason O'Donnell also had a good season as he led the division in goals with 58.

 

Instead of focusing on offence, in the West, Tyler James of Pacific Storm had a superb season in net. In goal, James had a 6.36 goals-against average, as well as a league-high 58.7, save percentage. James had a fantastic Crossover tournament as he did not allow more than nine goals in any of his games on route to the Crossover Championship.

 

Major League Water Polo

 

For Major League, goaltending was also a big story as the Toronto Golden Jets had two strong goalies. Emirhan Ozdemir was the starter for the Jets, but Kominos Kotzambasis also played well in relief. In 10 games, Ozdemir led the league in goals-against average (5.54) and saves percentage (70.5). He was also second in saves, which is a testament to how good he needed to be to help his team win the game. Kotzambasis in 5 games, had a 4.30 goals-against average and an 80% save percentage. The goaltender play had been phenomenal as the Golden Jets sit 4th in goals for but first in goals against which put them second in the division.

With only nine games played, Alberta's George Galanos sits 5th in league goals with 37. In a very competitive division of 3 teams, Galanos averaged over four goals a game, which puts him third in that category. Unfortunately for Team Alberta, they finished 3rd in the division after a hard-fought loss to Saskatchewan led by top goalie, Brody McKnight.

On the Women’s side, Apryl Gonzalez had a break-out season. In the first few years in MLWP, Gonzalez average around 10 goals each year. This year, she more than doubled her goal output with 27 goals and 16 assists. One of her bests games was in February against rival Dollard; she had 5 goals on 5 shots and 5 assists. In the game with under 2 minutes remaining and down one, Gonzalez scored on the power play to tie the game 13-13. That would be big as it meant CAMO would stay tied with Dollard for top spot in the division.

In the Western Conference, Rachel Krieger and Ellen Rafferty for Saskatchewan led the way for their team to take first place in the division. Krieger was the big scorer as she led the league in goals (30) while Rafferty led the league in assists (16) while also adding 19 goals. A fun tidbit about both of these women is that they both also coach the younger age categories in the NCL. One of their best games came against a tough Calgary Renegades team. In the match, Krieger had 5 points while Rafferty had 6 points as they led Saskatchewan to a 10-6 win, which helped Saskatchewan clinch first in the division.

Throughout the season, there have been a few teams that also deserve to be highlighted due to remarkable achievements. In the 16U Girls category, DDO Black had put together an impressive season with a 14-0 record. After finishing second in the division last year, DDO was looking to improve their standing, and they did so decisively as they won their games by an average of 12 goals. Serena Brown led the team offensively with 97 points, which also happens to be tops in the division. The same can be said about their 19U Women’s team as well. They finished second in the division last year, but sit in first this year thanks to Nadia Martyniuk, Serena Browne and Rose Kanemy, who all combined for 112 goals during the season.

Out West, the Calgary Torpedoes 16U Boys team had a very good season after a one-year absence from the NCL. Not many teams have been able to come back into the league after an absence and have the success the Torpedoes had. It was an exciting start of the season as their first few games were wins by only a goal, but as time went on, they continued to get better as they would win games by an average of 5 goals. They ended up saving the best for last with a thrilling 10-9 victory over previously undefeated West Coast Warriors to stake claim to first place in the division.

In the same age category, Ottawa Titans Black have also accomplished some incredible feats over the season. The first major accomplishment was ending the Mavericks 4-year undefeated streak. That streak was around 50 games before the Titans shocked the Mavericks 15-8. Another achievement was defeating Montreal Machine for the first time in their history in the 16U age category. Both the Mavericks and Machine have been the top teams at the 16U level for a few years and defeating them both this season really put an exclamation point on the Titan’s strong season.

The Pacific Storm 19U Men’s team has had its best season since 2016. They went 13-1 this year with strong victories against defending National Champion Saskatchewan, where they are a perfect 6-0 against them during the regular season and Crossover. The Storm won their first Crossover Championship in the 19U Men’s category with a 14-5 victory of Saskatchewan to put a stamp on their excellent season.

 

The last team to highlight is the Ottawa United Titans 1. This year, the Titans went 11-0 with impressive victories over defending National Champion Dollard (19-3) as well as Finalists Toronto Golden Jets (11-9 & 11-5). David Lapins led the team in goals with 45, which also is the second-most in the division. The Titans were also very balanced as they scored 208 goals during the season and only allowed 98.

 

Highlights

There were many fun games throughout the season, and WPC would like to highlight a few.

In the East, the 19U Women of Dollard and South Central Ontario faced off in an epic battle in Ottawa, March 7. South Central Ontario had not played a game since December and Dollard was looking to capitalize on that. There appeared to be rust as Dollard went on a 3-0 run in the first. SC Ontario would wake up in the second as they would go on a 4-0 run to take the lead. The two teams would go back in forth, and with the game tied 9-9, Emma Sardo of SC Ontario would score a top corner goal with no time remaining to win the game for her team 10-9. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GTSgPvW5fE )

 

On November 30 in Surrey, Fraser Valley would face off against Calgary Renegades Black in the 16U Girls category. While the game itself was not as close as the previous game mentioned, this game had an unusual occurrence. Sasha Hicks from the Renegades would score two goals, with both of them being scored with no time remaining in the period. While that is impressive enough on its own, what makes it even more impressive is that Hicks is the Renegades’ goalie, and both goals were scored while she was just outside her own net. Fraser Valley would go on to win the game 13-9, but the game was exciting nonetheless. (1:27:00 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScYB1nHpo_o&t=6037s )

 

On February 1 in Edmonton, the Crossover semi-final game featuring the Edmonton Tsunami and Pacific Storm was a classic battle. Edmonton came into the game undefeated, and Storm came in ranked fourth with three losses. While Storm was the apparent underdog, they gave Tsunami everything they had, matching them almost goal for goal. With just under two minutes remaining and Storm holding on to a one-goal lead, Holly Fedyck would score on the penalty shot to tie the game and send it to a shootout. In the shootout, the two teams would trade just one miss entering the 5th round. In the 5th round, the goalie, Cassidy Thorne, would be the hero as she saved the penalty shot attempt and then scored the game-winner on her team’s next attempt. (First game - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttHZKNntI_o )

 

On February 15 in Toronto, the Ottawa United Titans faced off against the Toronto Golden Jets in a battle for first place in the MLWP Men East Division. Ottawa started the game on a hot streak as they scored ten goals in the first half and went into half time with a 10-2 lead. While it looked like the Golden Jets were down and out, they kept fighting the rest of the game as they scored six straight goals, and Emirhan Ozdemir would also shut out the Titans for almost the entire second half, which put the Jets within two. After feeling the pressure all second half, the Titans would finally get a goal from Jonathan Ruse with just over two minutes in the game to shut down the comeback as they went on to win 11-9.

 

The last game to highlight came on November 28 in Surrey featuring the Calgary Torpedoes and Pacific Storm in the 16U age category. The Storm would jump out to a 5-0 lead thanks to three goals in the first period from Giancarlo Marquez. While the Torpedoes tried to come back, the Storm would continue to answer their tallies with goals of their own. This would continue halfway into the 3rd period with the Storm up 8-3. After that, the Torpedoes would start to mount a comeback thanks to Tivan Malcolm-Teleky and Kyan McBride-Soucy who combined for 8 goals in the final 12 minutes of the game. With the game tied at 10 and less than a minute remaining, McBride-Soucy would score his 3rd goal of the game to seal the 11-10 victory for the Torpedoes. (First game - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXbhvgrcfso&t=2s )

 

Water Polo Canada will also like to sincerely thank all of the parents, athletes, coaches, managers, referees, club officials, PSO staff, and volunteers that made the 2019-2020 NCL season possible. We hope to see you all in 2020-2021.

 
 
 
 

 


 
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