U SPORTS: Acadia’s Best Stories of 2019-20

There were a lot of great moments and stories from across U SPORTS this past year. In this series, 49 Sports takes a look at each school’s best moments. Although there were many great accomplishments, we have kept it to two per school. Enjoy.

Vancouver, BC- A great year cut short. It’s the story that so many people are feeling right now, and it is no different for Acadia’s sports teams. Between three national championship appearances, and hosting a portion of the men’s hockey tournament, there were a lot of great stories this year that sprouted from Wolfville.

Women’s Soccer: 4th in U SPORTS

While the first ball was not kicked until September, the Axewomen’s season began in May when the school hired Amit Batra as the first full-time coach of the program. It signified a major step forward for the program, but no one could have imagined the quick dividends the decision made. 

Batra hired as first full-time head coach of Acadia’s soccer programs
Head Coach Amit Batra (Acadia Athletics)

Through the 12 games AUS season, the Axewomen only conceded five goals, a number that paled in comparison to their  27 goals scored. They conceded the least goals of any soccer team in the AUS, and that’s including the men’s sides. Watching the Axewomen was like watching a finely tuned defensive machine, and one that refused to lose. 

Batra implemented a hard-tackling, yet clean gameplan and the buy-in was there from every player. The school finished with the second most bookings in the regular season, only behind St.FX. However, the difference between the two schools came in their successful tackles. St.FX had the cards, but nothing to outweigh them, the opposite of Acadia. 

Axewomen post undefeated season with 0-0 tie vs X
(Acadia Athletics)

Whenever a team has an undefeated season, it becomes truly memorable, and it was so close for the Axewomen. While their regular season campaign was near perfect, their lone loss of the season came in the AUS final at the feet of a perpetually successful Cape Breton soccer program. 

Despite the heart-crushing loss in the  AUS final, the girls from Wolfville still travelled west for the national tournament. At Victoria’s Centennial Stadium, their stingy style continued with a hard-fought 2-1 over the OUA’s York Lions, only to be toppled by the eventual champion UBC Thunderbirds in the semi-final. 

The successful season ended without national recognition, as they lost the bronze medal showdown to the University of Toronto, but as they look ahead to the coming fall, they know their strategy works. 

Men’s Hockey: A Year Cut Short

Ah, one of the chosen programs. The Acadia men’s hockey team was one of 16 hockey sides that saw their season cut short. The Axemen had one of their most successful seasons in history and were all set to go for a run at the U CUP, that is until the tournament was halted midway through due to COVID-19. Unlike half the teams, they didn’t even hit the ice at the national tournament, as they were scheduled to play the final game of the quarterfinals. However, their year was still one to remember. 

Axemen extend streak to 7 with 6-2 win over Tigers
(Acadia Athletics)

The Axemen were good this year and were by far the best team in the AUS that don’t go by the name of UNB. They were led by goalscorer Cristian Digiancito, who finished atop the entry of the AUS with 20 goals, but even his tallies were not enough to propel them to a championship. 

Although the regular season was another good one in Wolfville, the moment of the year came in Fredericton, NB, as the Axemen upset the UNB Reds 3-1  in the first game of the best of three final. As the buzzer sounded to end the game, the Axemen held a chance that no one had expected them to, a chance to dethrone the Reds. That moment was the last high moment that the team experienced, as they lost by 4+ goals in the remaining two games and had to witness UNB collect the AUS Championship once again.

Three hockey Axemen and head coach named in AUS awards release
(Acadia Athletics)

While settling for a silver medal is never the goal, the team was honoured through various individual awards at the end of the season. Liam Maaskant was awarded the Randy Gregg Award for outstanding community service and the same award for the AUS whilst goaltender Logan Flodell was named a 2nd team All-Canadian, and also the AUS MVP. The pair were the only ones honoured nationally, however, defender Garret McFadden and head coach Dareen Burns were honoured regionally. 

The season may not have ended as the Axemen would have hoped, but a combined six individual awards, a tournament organized and an AUS silver medal are accomplishments nonetheless.

Leave a Reply