U Sports championships loom for fall sports football, rugby and soccer

While fall-season sports are getting their respective playoff schedules underway, regular-season play in winter sports such as volleyball and basketball and men's ice hockey are just getting underway.

Winter season just getting underway for volleyball, basketball, hockey

The Ottawa Gee-gees women's soccer team celebrates winning gold at the FISU Americas tournament after defeating Universidade Paulista of Brazil 2-1 in the final on Sunday in Merida, Mexico. (@GeeGeesWSOC/Twitter)

As the leaves continue to fall from the trees in much of Canada, the seasons too are changing on the U Sports landscape.

While fall-season sports are getting their respective playoff schedules underway, regular-season play in winter sports such as ice hockey, volleyball and basketball — for both men and women — are just getting underway.

In the meantime, let's look at the biggest happenings from championship season in the U Sports world, featuring women's soccer and rugby, and men's football.

Gee-Gees take soccer gold in Mexico

The Ottawa Gee-Gees women's soccer team defeated Universidade Paulista of Brazil 2-1 in the gold-medal match of the FISU Americas tournament on Sunday, held in Merida, Mexico.

The tournament featured four squads: Ottawa, Paulista, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico), and University Salgado de Oliveira (Brazil). Ottawa has already qualified for next year's tournament, which will take place in China.

Soumaya Bouak of Newmarket, Ont., gave Ottawa the lead in the deciding match in the 13th minute of play by roofing a shot with her left foot past the Brazilian goalkeeper.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Olivia Allen of Holland Landing, Ont., provided all the insurance Ottawa needed. Toronto's Trinity Esprit did the work to set up the marker by streaking down the wing and finding Allen in front to chip in the eventual game-winner.

The Gee-Gees held Paulista to one goal the rest of the way to clinch the title, repeating the same result over Paulista from the 2019 tournament, where they won gold with a 1-0 effort over the Brazilian school.

The Gee-Gees went 4-0-1 in the tournament overall, with their draw coming against Paulista in the round-robin portion.

In conference play, Ottawa wrapped up its season with a 0-0 draw against the RMC Paladins on Sunday to finish with a 9-1-2 record, second in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East behind 9-0-3 Queen's University.

The regular season is winding down with only postponed games left to play ahead of the playoffs.  The U Sports soccer championship takes place Nov. 10-13 with the women in Laval, Que., and the men in Kamloops, B.C.

The 13-1 UBC Thunderbirds are the top-ranked team in women's soccer, while the York Lions (10-0-2) , Cape Breton Capers (8-0-2), Ontario Tech Ridgebacks (11-1), and Montreal Carabins (9-1-2) — in the midst of an eight-game winning streak — are among the top teams on the men's side.

UBC continues to rule the west in women's rugby

The UBC Thunderbirds secured their third straight Canada West (CW) women's rugby title with a 24-12 win over the Victoria Vikes Sunday.

North Vancouver, B.C., native Savannah Bauder paced the Thunderbirds with three tries and two converts while CW MVP Shoshanah Seumanutafa of White Rock, B.C., also chipped in a try.

UBC heads into the U Sports women's rugby championship in November with their lone blemish being a 31-31 tie against the Vikes in mid-October.

University of British Columbia's women's rugby team celebrates their third straight Conference West title after defeating the Victoria Vikes 24-12 on Sunday. (Don Voaklander/University of Alberta via @ubctbirds on Twitter)

No. 2-ranked Laval narrowly edged out the University of Ottawa in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) championship 13-11, with Alexina Tardif-Samson and Andreanne Valois providing the offence for the Rouge et Or.

Laval appears to be headed on another collision course with rival Queen's University. Each defeated the other in the past two championship games, Queen's in 2021 and Laval in 2019.

Top-ranked Queen's cruised into the OUA finals with a 90-0 victory over Western University on Saturday, and are set to meet Guelph on Oct. 29. The Gryphons took down Brock 58-0 in their semifinal match.

Guelph is the only team to hand the defending champion Golden Gaels a loss in the past two seasons, and also gave Queen's its toughest test this year in a 45-18 loss in early October. Queen's outscored its opponents 533-3 in their six other matches.

The Atlantic University Sport (AUS) final goes Wednesday, with 5-1 Acadia taking on 4-2 UPEI.

The women's rugby championship will be held Nov. 2-6 in Victoria, B.C.

Road to the Vanier Cup

With one week left in the U Sports football season, the playoff picture on the road to the Vanier Cup is starting to take shape.

The 2021 Vanier Cup champion Western Mustangs continued to roll in OUA action, moving to 8-0 with a 38-18 victory over the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Toronto, Ont., native Keon Edwards notched his eighth consecutive 100-yard effort on the ground for the Mustangs to go over the 1,000-yard mark on the season, the second straight year the 2021 first team OUA all-star has achieved that feat.

The top dog in the AUS remains 7-0 StFX, whose defence forced six turnovers to go along with seven sacks in a dominant 52-4 win over St. Mary's.

The standout performance of the week was UBC's Isaiah Knight of Ottawa, Ont., who went off for 231 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns — two receiving and one rushing, all in the first 20 minutes of the game — in a 35-29 win that ended the 2021 Vanier Cup finalist Saskatchewan Huskies' perfect season and clinched a playoff spot in the CW for UBC.

The idle 6-1 Laval Rouge et Or are the top-ranked team in the RSEQ and wrap up their season on Saturday at Concordia.

The Vanier Cup will be in London, Ont., at Western Alumni Stadium on Nov. 26.

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