Championship season is looming and McMaster continues to come up in trophy conversations. February marks the end of the regular season and brings us the (arguably too long) playoffs or championship meets for a variety of Marauder teams. 2014-15 could be one of Mac’s most successful years. Here’s what to watch for going forward.
Head coach Tim Louks has his team peaking at the right time once again. Mac has ripped off two comeback wins in recent weeks and clinched first place the OUA West division. With that finish, they will host the OUA Final Four as long as they win in the quarterfinals. That being said, Mac was swept in their three losses this year and they’ll likely meet one of the teams that beat them during championship weekend. The positive: those games happened on Nov. 23 or earlier, meaning McMaster has had time to improve.
Player to watch: Joanna Jedrzejewska
McMaster hasn’t seen a more dominant program on campus since the 2012 football team. They dropped their first game against Western but haven’t looked back since then, only losing two sets in 16 games. Head coach Dave Preston has his group leading nearly every team statistical category. Mac has consistently qualified for the CIS Final 8, but they have been unable to capture a national championship, winning bronze and silver in 2014 and 2013, respectively. This Marauder team is firing on all cylinders and the other CIS contenders have looked shaky. Nothing is guaranteed, but McMaster could be home to a national champion come March.
Player to watch: Danny Demyaneko
The Marauders track team are past the mid-way point of the season and are on a roll heading into the Boston Invitational on Feb. 13. While three athletes were selected to compete at the Boston University Valentine Invitational, the rest of the team will be competing at the CAN AM Invitational in Windsor.
Blair Morgan, Chelsea Mackinnon and Jeff Tweedle have been given the opportunity to compete at the fast track in Boston University.
Players to watch: Chelsea Mackinnon/Jeff Tweedle
Mac pulled off an incredible comeback against the Toronto Varsity Blues on Feb. 1, but they didn’t come out completely unscathed. Hilary Hanaka, an OUA Rookie of the Year candidate, suffered a foot injury and only played 20 minutes. According to the coaching staff, she will be available for the final regular season stretch. While Hanaka avoided major injury, the team lost another key contributor. Linnaea Harper broke her foot against Guelph and is finished for the year, and meanwhile Isabel Ormond and Jelena Mamic were unable to suit up at all because of injuries suffered in the off-season. Theresa Burns’s group will still qualify for playoffs, but they will have to rely on their depth and alter their play style a bit if they want to make their way back to nationals for the first time since 2010.
Player to watch: Clare Kenney
The sky is the limit for Mac and this deep roster, but they haven’t been able to put it all together yet for 40 minutes. The team came close to doing that against Toronto, putting together a 49-24 first half against the Varsity Blues. The Marauders wavered in the second and U of T actually won the half. The OUA is as deep as it has ever been, with Windsor, Ryerson, Ottawa and Carleton all in the top five of the CIS top ten. Head coach Amos Connolly’s group has a soft schedule going forward, but they need to iron out the wrinkles and play a complete game before any Mac fan buys a CIS Final 8 ticket package.
Player to watch: Aaron Redpath