Recapping Tommies winter sports

Still of number 21 of the St. Thomas University Women's hockey team. (Submitted; SRM Photography)

This past year, the five winter sports teams at St. Thomas University fought hard on the court and the ice, hoping to take home championships in their respective sports.

A Spin-O-Rama of a Season  

After finishing 8-18-2 in 2022-23, head coach Peter Murphy decided to restock the team for the season. Murphy brought in seven newcomers to complement a roster that included 15 returnees, resulting in the team finishing in fourth place with a 14-9-5 record. 

In the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) quarterfinals, the Tommies took on their interprovincial rival, the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleues, whom the team swept 2-0 thanks to a pair of stellar goaltending performances by Katie Sweeney. STU was defeated 3-2 in the best-of-five semi-finals by the St. Francis Xavier X-Women. 

The team had a pretty successful year, said fourth-year winger Claire Nimegeers, but are always looking to improve.

“We still have a lot of growing to do,” she said. “Next year we will come [in] bigger and stronger and have a lot of girls who have played in the league already.”

“We had a young team coming in, so going against some of the older, seasoned teams, it was kind of a wake-up call for us,” said Nimegeers, on where her team fell short this season. 

Nimegeers’ favourite memory was an overtime win against the X-Women on Oct. 21. 

“Our first win against X … I have never won against them and this is my fourth year,” she said. “When Laura Brown put that overtime-winning goal in for us, it felt like we won the season because they’re a really strong team.”

Spiking Towards Success  

The women’s volleyball team finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) at 8-10.

The Tommies played in a remarkable nine five-set matches but unfortunately, they were swept in the quarterfinals by the Holland Hurricanes in three sets. Additionally, the team bid farewell to their longtime coach Don McKay, who retired after spending 11 years with the team.  

Related: ‘It’s time’: STU women’s volleyball head coach retiring after 11 years

“From the get-go, we were putting up a fight against the top teams,” said Brooke Thompson, a rookie libero. “We were one of the only teams to take the top team, UKC, to five sets.”

“It shows that STU volleyball can put up a fight with anyone and that we were contenders the entire season.”  

Thompson knows that 2024-25 will be a rebuilding year, as the team is losing several coaches and key players. However, she’s taking it in stride, saying they hope to “focus on going out there and competing to our fullest extent with a new team.”  

A standout player this season was Kathleen Boyle, who was named to the ACAA All-Conference First Team. Boyle placed in the top five in the league in multiple categories, including in kills, where she led the ACAA with 202 total kills this season. 

Meanwhile, the men’s volleyball team turned many heads with their play this season. The Tommies finished with an 8-9 record overall, setting up a matchup with the Holland Hurricanes in the playoffs. They seemingly took their play to another level, defeating Holland 3-2 and the Université de Sainte Anne Dragons 3-1 in the final. 

With an 11th championship under their belt, The Tommies earned their spot at nationals at Camosun College in Victoria, B.C.

Related: Tommies men’s volleyball win’s 11th ACAA championship, sets sight on Nationals

A breakout player for the Tommies was Brenton Romanchuk. The Dewberry, Alberta native finished in the top five on the team in multiple categories, including kills per set. Romanchuk averaged 2.70 kills per set and played a crucial role for the Tommies in the playoffs, which earned him ACAA All-Conference Team honours.

A STU Slam Dunk

For the Tommies men’s basketball team, the past season was one to remember for both their long winning streak and third consecutive loss in the finals. During the regular season, the team tore through the competition, starting in their home opener against the University of New Brunswick Saint John (UNBSJ) Seawolves and carrying the momentum to 15-3 and a first-place finish. 

The team defeated the Mount Allison Mounties by a single point in the quarterfinals, booking their ticket to the final. However, they lost in a nail-biter in overtime to the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics, a team they battled for the top spot in the conference throughout the season.  

A standout player for the team was Noah McCarthy. After spending several years with Mount Allison, the Grand Falls native lead the team in 3-point percentage and finished second in points per game behind Geoffrey Lavoie. Because of his dominant play, McCarthy earned a spot on the ACAA All-Conference team.  

Meanwhile, this past season for the St. Thomas women’s basketball team was a tale of two halves. During the first half, the team lost five straight after defeating the UNBSJ Seawolves in their home opener. However, in the second half of the season, they won seven of their last ten regular season games, which helped the team clinch the fourth seed. The Tommies lost to the host Holland Hurricanes in the first round of playoffs. 

A breakout star on the team was Paige Leblanc, who was named ACAA Rookie of the Year. The New Maryland native ended the season second on the team in field goal percentage and first in the league in 3-point percentage.