Last season, the Gee-Gees finished first in the OUA East with a 19-3 record. They also ended last season with an impressive playoff run in which they ended up capturing the CIS bronze medal. In order to reach the nationals again this year Ottawa will need to play well but more importantly stay healthy. Early in the season the Gee-Gees are experiencing some injuries troubles with some key players, but all signs are pointing to everyone being healthy for the home opener versus McMaster.
The Gee-Gees went 3-0 last weekend in Prince Edward Island as they participated in an exhibition tournament, logging wins over Memorial, Guelph, and the host Panthers. Unfortunately, starting point guard Kellie Ring and rookie point guard Julia Soriano both suffered ankle sprains which will keep them out of action for 3 to 4 weeks.
This season Ottawa has brought in seven new players which includes Soriano as well as guards Kim Cupid and Kayte Chase who are both returning after one year absences, forwards Francesca Bellehumeur-Moya and Catherine Traer, and centre Katherine Lemoine. Also new to the Gee-Gees is 6-2 center Alyska Lukan who is a transfer player from McMaster who will be eligible to play come Christmas time.
These new players will have big shoes to fill and will need to step up early on for Ottawa, with the departure of Hannah Sunley-Paisley, Teddy Firmi and Bess Lennox who all finished their eligibility last season. However, Firmi and Lennox remain on campus completing their Master’s degrees, allowing them to work as assistant coaches with the team.
Players expected to have breakout seasons this year are Tatiana Hanlan, Maddie Stephen and Ariane Lachance-Scantland who have all worked extremely hard over the summer and improved considerably. Kellie Ring is also expected to have another great season after winning OUA East rookie of the year.
“Last year Kellie had a specific role in setting up our more experience players, but this year with those players gone, she will take on an even more important role and perform night in and night out,” said head coach Andy Sparks. The head coach also expects Ariane Lachance-Scantland to continue to be a great leader as she been in the past.
“We have seven new players on the team this year and all of them are top recruits, so we are very optimistic about the season but it is a team that will be a work in progress and that will take a bit of time to mesh,” said Sparks. “All indications are pointing to a team that will be young, skilled, tempo and simply exiting for Gee-Gees fans to watch”.
Jenna Gilbert will be returning to the team, balancing the academic challenges of her nursing program schedule which have been keeping her out of practice so far this season. The 6-0 forward averaged 12.4 points per game last season and was an integral piece of the Gee-Gees bronze medal finish. She is expected to start practicing full time in November, but will need some time to mesh with her new teammates come the start of the season.
Assuming captain duties this season will be Kellie Ring, Ariane Lachance-Scantland and Jenna Gilbert.
The Gee-Gees are heading to McGill this weekend for one final exhibition tune up. They will play their first home match on November 16 at 6 p.m. as they take on the McMaster University Marauders at Monpetit Hall.