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CAMO win 19U Championships, Mavericks and Renegades claim 16U titles

The 2017 NCL season came to a close this past weekend in Calgary with the playing of the 16U and 19U National Finals. CAMO were the big winners at the Finals, winning both the 19U Men’s and Women’s Championships, as well as taking silver in the 16U Girls category. Mavericks completed an undefeated season to win the 16U Boys title and the Calgary Renegades brought home the 16U Girls Championship for the host city.

With the completion of the gold medal games on Saturday, the 2017 NCL season was complete after 199 days and 750 games of competition.

The National Finals began on Friday with the top two teams from each conference, in each category, playing the semi-final games. The winners of the semi-finals advanced to the championship games, while the losers fought for bronze.

In the 16U Girls category, the semi-finals saw CAMO overcome Saskatchewan 8-3 and the Renegades stave off Dollard 10-9. CAMO stymied Saskatchewan in the opening half, holding Sask without a goal, while scoring five of their own to provide a comfortable margin. Floranne Carroll drove the offense for the Montrealers, scoring four goals in the game. In the 2nd semi-final, the Renegades looked like they had a comfortable win sewn up when they were leading 9-3 late in the 3rd quarter; but Dollard did not quit on the game, and engineered 6 goals over the final 10 minutes to pull within one goal with 29 seconds to play. Dollard even managed to generate a steal with a few seconds to play but Renegades held DDO off and advanced to the finals.

In the bronze medal game, Dollard knocked off Saskatchewan 6-5 in a thriller. Dollard, who seem incapable off playing an unexciting game, got the winning goal from Rose Kanemy with just 35 seconds to play. The gold medal game managed to be even more exciting than the bronze medal game somehow, with CAMO and Renegades fighting tooth and nail for the title. The final was a game of runs, with each team matching the challenges laid down by their opponents. After an early goal by Calgary, CAMO went on a three goal stretch to take the lead. Calgary responded with a three goal run of their own to go up 4-3, only to see CAMO come back with four straight of their own to get back in front 7-4. Calgary, undeterred, pulled out another three-goal run to tie the game at 7. CAMO would take two more one goal leads in the 3rd quarter, but each time could not hold off a Calgary comeback. With 4:16 to go in the 4th quarter, Alison Cameron put the Renegades in front for the first time since the early 2nd quarter. CAMO fought to find the equalizer, and with barely any time remaining, thought they found the tying goal, when a desperation heave found the back of the net. It was not be though, as the final horn sounded just milliseconds before the ball was released. The Calgary Renegades had clinched the first ever NCL title for the city of Calgary.

The 16U Boys category was expected to be a showdown between an undefeated Mavericks squad and one loss Pacific Storm. Both teams first had to get through tough semi-finals in order to set up the expected final. Mavericks were up against two time defending 16U champion Saskatchewan. The game was competitive into the 4th quarter, with Saskatchewan hanging around down 12-9. It was then that Mavericks went on one of their patented runs, scoring 6 straight in recording a 18-12 victory. Storm took on the league newcomers, Montreal Machine, and were able to advance with a 16-6 win.

Despite coming up short against Storm, the Machine were able to rebound and defeat Saskatchewan to earn a National Championship bronze to go along with their silver from the Eastern Championships. 3rd place in the county is an impressive achievement for a team competing in the NCL for the first time.

The gold medal game between Storm and Mavericks would live up to all expectations set for it. Entering the game 24-0-0, Mavericks were one game away from the perfect season, and setting the NCL record for most wins in a season. The Mavericks had cruised to victory after victory all season, but the pressure was on to win the championship against the toughest opponent they faced all season. The game started out even, with the teams tying each four different times in the opening quarter. In the 2nd quarter, Storm started to pull away, thanks in part to three goals by Maxwell MacMillan. Down 10-7 at the half, Mavericks were faced with a challenge they had not faced all year, adversity. How would they respond. Two quick goals to start the 2nd half seemed to answer that question, as Mavericks pushed hard to overtake Storm. Storm would not give it up so easily though, and their talent continued to shine through as the held of the Toronto boys. Midway through the 4th quarter, Mavericks still trailed 13-12, but Matthew Wysocki was able to equalize with his 3rd goal of the 2nd half. Mavericks captain Bor Tanasjevic would complete the comeback for Mavericks, firing home a clutch goal as usual with 2:29 minutes to play to provide the margin for Mavericks. 25-0-0, a perfect season.

The 19U women’s category saw the CAMO women trying to claim the first ever three-peat in the NCL. Saskatchewan were seen as the team mostly likely to deny CAMO of another title, in part because Saskatchewan handed CAMO their only loss of the season at the Crossover. The teams set up a finals matchup when CAMO knocked off Fraser Valley 13-5 and Saskatchewan beat St-Lambert 18-7 in the semi-finals. The final was similar to the 16U girls semi-final matchup between CAMO and Saskatchewan, with CAMO putting the defensive clamps on Sask from the get go, and Sask just missing a few too many of their remaining chances. CAMO goaltender Clara Vulpisi played a huge role in that, with her positioning and instincts styming Saskatchewan on crucial scoring opportunities. On the other end, CAMO, led by Daphne Guevremont and Tyanna Supreme, would find enough goals to gain a comfortable lead, and let Vulpisi and their defense carry them to the championship, 11-5.

Fraser Valley would capture the 19U women’s bronze with a 12-3 victory over St-Lambert.

The men’s category featured the same four teams as last year, but with different semi-finals matchups. Pacific Storm ran away from the Toronto Golden Jets in the first semi-final, 24-8, to advance to their 3rd consecutive 19U Men’s championship game. In the 2nd semi-final, CAMO flipped the script on the Calgary Torpedoes from the Crossover, recording a 15-9 win, after losing to the Torpedoes 18-15 back in February.

The Torpedoes would fall short of winning their first NCL Championship in their third trip to the finals, but they did claim a bronze medal by defeating the Golden Jets 12-10. Alexis Reiher with five goals, and Stefanos Rizopoulus with three goals, led the way for Calgary, overcoming five goals from the Jets David Rapoport.

The Gold Medal game placed CAMO against the defending champions from Pacific Storm. The goals came fast and furious in the first quarter, with 11 goals combined being scored by both teams. CAMO gained the early edge at 7-4 thanks to a late three goal run in the quarter. The 2nd quarter belonged to Pacific Storm, who outscored CAMO 6-1 in the period. Reuel D’Souza scored two goals in the final minute to provide a two goal cushion heading into half time. It looked like it might be another case of a team hanging with Storm for a couple of quarters, only to watch Storm find another gear and pull away. That might have been the case, if not for Benjamin Lemay-Lavoie in the 3rd quarter. Lemay scored four goals in the quarter alone, including one with three seconds left, to turn a two goal deficit into a two goal leading entering the fourth quarter. The play of CAMO goalie Luka Pejovic should also be mentioned, as some fantastic saves on his part resulted in just one Storm goal in the quarter. Everything was set up for a frantic 4th quarter to decide the championship. The 4th quarter would turn into a battle between the two captains. Pacific Storm captain Sandro Miletic would score twice for Storm to close in on CAMO, but Francois Croteau responded with two in kind to keep pace for the Quebec squad. With time ticking down, CAMO led 15-14 and needed one more stop to seal the title. CAMO kept the ball to the outside and a final Storm shot flew wide of the net to ensure the victory and the championship for CAMO.

With that, the competition was complete, and another season of the NCL was in the books. It was a fantastic Championship Saturday, with four games decided by one goal, including three of the gold medal games, and another two games decided by just two goals. The 2017 National Finals once again proved that there are great water polo players and teams all across this country.

Final Standings

16U Girls

  1. Calgary Renegades
  2. CAMO
  3. Dollard
  4. Saskatchewan

16U Boys

  1. Mavericks
  2. Pacific Storm
  3. Montreal Machine
  4. Saskatchewan

19U Women

  1. CAMO
  2. Saskatchewan
  3. Fraser Valley
  4. St-Lambert

19U Men

  1. CAMO
  2. Pacific Storm
  3. Calgary Torpedoes
  4. Toronto Golden Jets

Award Winners

16U Girls

MVC: Sandra Lizé
MVG: Anna Kosloski
MVDP: Emmanuelle Laflamme
MVP: Alison Cameron

16U Boys

MVC: Danko Bjelica
MVG: Matej Mandic
MVDP: Maxwell MacMillan
MVP: Kyril Marinov

19U Women

MVC: Alexandre Pratte
MVDP: Adrien Van Dyke
MVP & MVG: Clara Vulpisi

19U Men

MVC: Robert Couillard
MVG: Alex Veljovic
MVDP: Mark Spooner
MVP: Benjamin Lemay-Lavoie



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