They’ve marched down the field and swung for the fairways and the fences. They’ve run, kicked, served and rowed themselves to provincial and national finals.
Western Mustangs athletes made up for a lost 2020 with a banner 2021.
After a year away from competitive sport – when the pandemic forced the cancellation of intercollegiate athletics across the country – Western Mustangs student athletes, coaches and staff were more than ready to bring back their best.
The results of the fall sports season have been nothing short of impressive.
On a frigid field in Quebec City earlier this month, the Western Mustangs football team hoisted the Vanier Cup, their eighth national university championship, in a 27-21 win over Saskatchewan Huskies.
The victory capped off a stellar year that included just one loss (to Guelph, which the ‘Stangs later avenged in the playoffs) and a lopsided 61-6 win against the St. FX X-Men at the Mitchell Bowl (U Sports semi-final).
“I’m extremely proud of this group, everything we have been through. I am just so happy we got here and got this done,” head coach Greg Marshall said. “The fact that we got through this pandemic and we are the champions – it speaks to the resiliency of our team and I could not be happier or prouder of this group.”
As the fall sports season drew to a close, student-athletes and their coaches and support staff turned in notable performances at all levels. (Visit www.westernmustangs.ca for more information on all teams and team results.)
Western’s cross-country women’s team earned silver at the U Sports national championship in Quebec on Nov 20. Guy Schultz, head coach of the Mustangs cross-country team, was beaming at the results of his powerhouse teams. “Both the men’s and women’s teams were ranked high nationally going into this competition. Coming off a year with no competition, that was impressive in and of itself. But for the women to top their ranking, coming in second overall at this national competition, is absolutely incredible. I am so proud of this group of athletes for their drive to succeed, their support for each other, and their passion for the sport.”
Women’s soccer advanced to the U Sports national championships in Nova Scotia. Their path to the national tournament included a second-place Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finish – a heartbreaking game at home against Queen’s that saw a nil-score game advance to extra time and then settle in Queens’s favour after eight penalty shootout kicks.
In addition, women’s rowing came in third nationally, and men’s and women’s tennis teams both also came in third in their respective national championships.
The Mustangs women’s golf, rowing and softball teams all won provincial championships, as did the men’s tennis team.
Western Alumni Stadium
A big win beyond team and personal performances was an all-star contribution from the Western Alumni Association – a $1.4-million gift for on-going improvements to the Western Mustangs stadium facilities, which was renovated this year with a new track and turf. The generous donation also led to the stadium’s renaming to the Western Alumni Stadium.
Of the Alumni Association’s gift, $1 million will be allocated for maintenance and upkeep over the next 10 years, while $400,000 will be used for renovations of the newly named Alumni Lounge, including window replacement to improve sightlines, replacing the flooring, increasing seating capacity and updating the audio-visual equipment.
Several Western Mustangs coaches have been recognized provincially and nationally so far this year. Jeff Pacheco, coach of the Mustangs women’s field hockey team, won OUA coach of the year and U Sports coach of the year in that sport as his team posted a 5-3-1 record following a 2019 season that saw just two wins in 12 games.
“This accolade is associated with the level of play the team produced game after game, it means we found a level of expectation that we want to continue with year over year,” Pacheco said.
Katherine Baer won OUA coach of the year in women’s rugby.
Cameron Cross and Anthony Glavanic were named OUA coaches of the year for men’s tennis.
Charles Fitzsimmons was named OUA coach of the year in women’s golf.
Mustangs student-athletes also won several top awards, including, among others:
- Deointe Knight, Mustangs football defensive lineman and a fourth-year, King’s University College student, won the National U Sports Canada J.P. Metras Award for Most Outstanding Lineman of the Year.
- Quarterback Evan Hillock, a second-year criminology student, won OUA rookie of the year for football and was named offensive player of the game in the Vanier Cup.
- Jordyn Orlando (fifth-year, graduate studies) won most valuable player in the OUA Russell Division for women’s rugby.
- Chloe Coutts (first-year, medical science) was OUA rookie of the year for women’s cross country
- Matt Oliver (third-year, business management) won OUA male player of the year for men’s tennis, while Justine Bryson (second-year, Huron College) and Ashton Cross (first-year, engineering) were named OUA East rookies of the year in tennis.
Visit the Western athletics website for a full recap of the achievements of all Mustangs sports teams.
And as the fall athletic season closed, the winter season began with a bang for other Mustangs teams: including men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s hockey; and men’s and women’s volleyball.
The women’s basketball and volleyball teams are each undefeated so far and are set to resume play in January 2022.
Home games are free for students with valid Western ONECard, and basketball, volleyball and hockey are also available to watch on OUA.tv. More information and details on how to purchase spectator tickets can be found at www.westernmustangs.ca.