C/O Yoohyun Park, Multimedia Coordinator
These are the McMaster sports teams to watch this year
In the 2021-2022 season, there was plenty to be proud of in the world of McMaster University sports. Between the school's 11 U Sports clubs and the 16 Ontario University Athletics teams, there was always something going on. Now heading into the 2022-2023 season, here are the teams you should have your eye on.
The women’s volleyball team may not have finished the year on the podium, but they certainly had a promising year. The team is centered around star Sullie Sundara, the 2021-2022 rookie of the year award winner, first team all-star and U21 team Canada member, as well as fellow first team all-star Jessie Nairn and second team all-star Ellie Hatashita. The team finished second in the West, having won eight and lost four in the regular season before being upset by the Western Mustangs in the quarter final. Going forward, the team has a very young core, only having lost a couple players heading into the season. With their last OUA championship having been only five seasons ago, and their last finals appearance only four seasons ago, they have a chance to make it back and do some real damage this season.
The 2021-2022 men’s baseball team was one for the history books. Despite what the team has been through, they managed to bring home an OUA silver. Outfielder Nik Motruk also won the most valuable player award, while Joshua Kalmin took home rookie of the year honors. It was a huge year for the team and one would feel safe in assuming the club would find themselves in the power rankings the following season. However, many key graduating members have kept the team in the honorable mentions. Back-to-back MVP winner Motruk and former Cy Young winner (awarded to the league’s best pitcher) Julian Tymochko as well as a couple other notable contributors have completed their time at McMaster. The baseball team faces an uphill climb as they look to return to the OUA playoffs in their upcoming season.
5. Men’s Wrestling
The men’s wrestling team went a long way in 2021-2022, finding their way into the five spot in this season's power rankings. Over the past year there were two major tournaments for the team, the Brock Open and the OUA Championship. At Brock the men’s team managed to pull away with a first place finish, as Francesco Fortino, Trystan Kato, Luken Lawson and Sarpartap Lally all won the gold in their respective weight classes. Five other members of the team also found themselves on the podium with silver or bronze.
Shortly after the Brock Open, McMaster as a team finished second in the province at the OUA Championship. Peter Shirley, Trystan Kato and Francesco Fortino took home gold medals, while the team also earned two silvers and no bronze finishes. Shirley would finish the season as OUA’s outstanding male wrestler of the year.
All members of the team are expected to return for the 2022-2023 season.
4. Men’s Basketball
Following a loaded year for the team, the men’s basketball team just fell short after losing a close matchup to the eventual OUA champion Brock Badgers in the semi-finals. The team saw a blazing hot start leading into the winter break, winning all six of their matchups. Following their return to play in January, they started to slow down, in part due to more difficult competition. The team still finished with a strong 11 wins and five losses. They were the only team — regular season and playoffs — to defeat the Badgers all year.
The team, led by former Maine Red Claws assistant coach Patrick Tatham, is full of explosive young talent. In 2021-2022 they only had one player, Luka Mircetic, in his fourth year of eligibility (or later), creating a path for sustainable success. With Jordan Henry (first team all-star), Mike Demagus (second team all-star), Culley Bremner (all-rookie team) and co returning this season, the continued chemistry between the already strong ball club could go a long way.
3. Men’s Soccer
The 2021-2022 season was a strong, but underwhelming one for McMaster men’s soccer team. After finishing second in the central division with an overall record of 6-2-2, the Marauders fell in their first round quarterfinal matchup against the defending champion and nationally third ranked, Carleton Ravens. The team was expected to go much further, but ultimately fell victim to an unfortunate early round matchup, facing arguably the most difficult team possible.
Despite the early playoff exit, the team showed promise. Dusan Kovacevic and Al-Shakman were named to the All-Canadian team, while Al-Shakman was also selected to the all-rookie team, and named OUA Central rookie of the year.
Heading into the upcoming season, it is a team still rich with talent. The biggest challenge for the club will be overcoming a coaching change, following the departure of longtime McMaster head coach Dino Perri, who spent the last 14 years with the team. He won three OUA titles and qualified for five national championships, which included a silver medal run in 2014. The Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame member will be succeeded by assistant coach Chris Markou, who will take on an interim role.
2. Women’s Basketball
The women’s basketball team has to be one of the most exciting young teams McMaster has to offer. In a 2021-2022 season that was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the team finished with a winning record of nine wins and six losses, locking themselves into a playoff spot. Their season would end in a close 49-45 loss to the Brock Badgers in the quarterfinal.
McMaster’s basketball teams commonly credit their success to a strong culture. Along with 28 year veteran coach and three time coach of the year award winner Therese Burnes, the entire roster from the 2021-2022 season is expected to return. The team, led by Sarah Gates and Mia Spadafora — both members of the Marauders 2019 national championship team — has a great opportunity to continue their upward trajectory on a path of improvement through a greater sense of familiarity and on-court chemistry. There could be much more than just a playoff berth to remember the 2022-2023 season by.
1. Men’s Volleyball
There is no team more clear cut for the number one spot than the Marauders men’s volleyball team. Since the 2007-2008 season, McMaster has won the provincial title in a staggering 10 of 14 playoff runs, the most recent being the 2021-2022 season in their return to the court.
The Marauders shined bright all season long, sweeping their way to the OUA championships by winning all 15 games they played. Ranked as the third best team in Canada, they continued through to the national championship, where they placed fifth. Individually, the team was loaded with accolades. Dave Preston took home the coach of the year award, Robbie Fujisawa and Maxime Gratton were named to the all-rookie team while Gratton won the rookie of the year, Wojtek Kraj and Mateusz Wlodarski made the second team all-star and team captain Jordan Pereira and Sam Cooper were named to the first team all-star.
Pereira is the only graduating member of the team, with everyone else slated to return to the court, so the Marauders have an incredibly bright future ahead as they continue to dominate the volleyball world.