June 25, 2013 by Keith Raynor in Preview with 1 comments
Québec knows how to make an entrance. Nova, a new team comprised of players from the Canadian province – primarily Montreal and Québec City – is starting off their program with a bang by attending the 2013 US Open in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’ll be just their second tournament appearance as a team.
“As a new team, it is really challenging to go to a big tournament that early in the season,” admitted Isabelle Lemay, one of Nova’s Captains.
Montreal has a program put together that advances Women’s players through a series of teams, but their strongest women wanted more. Some of the top players from the Mixed Division, who had played with Odysée in last year’s Club Championships, were also looking for the chance to play Women’s, but with a more competitive team.
“We were kind of tired of being beaten by Capitals and Traffic,” Lemay said in regards to the team’s formation. “We looked at those teams and realized they used the best talent from the whole province, and we had to do the same.”
The Québec City players and Montreal players united to form Nova, pulling the province’s top female talent. Éric Dion, who went to Japan in 2012 with the Team Canada Mixed team for Worlds, signed on as coach. Lemay and teammate Jessie Grignon-Thomas saw an opportunity to bring in his leadership.
“Having a really good coach makes it easier to get girls from everywhere. Everyone wants to play for him,” explained Lemay, adding that having him made recruiting easier.
From there, taking the invitation to attend the US Open was a justifiable next step.
“We see it as an opportunity to play against really good teams,” she said. “It is going to be a challenge to see where we are at this moment of the season.”
Their season doesn’t end with the USA Ultimate Series, but rather with the World Club Championships. Lemay targeted that title as their goal, while saying they’ll likely compete in the USAU Series, but not with a full roster.
In order to do so, they’ll need to tap into a roster that does not lack for talent. Grignon-Thomas is one of Canada’s stars, a premier downfield threat that has high level experience from playing Mixed with Odysée last season and Team Canada. Audey St-Arnaud, another athletic cutter and defender, attended the Club Championships with The Ghosts last season and also played with Team Canada. Lemay, Marie-Helene Audet, Catherine Viau, and Marie-Eve Beauchamin provide additional former-Odysée firepower.
“We are working on being a smart team and using our strengths,” Lemay told Ultiworld.
Another edge Nova may have over some of their competition is a wealth of experience against international competition. Along with their Team Canada players, many of their recruits have competed at Junior Worlds, such as Clancy Budiak-Jarvie, Jessica Circe, and 18 year old Marie Genest (Canada U-23 Mixed). Furthermore, Suzanne Wavroch played in the US Open last year with the Colombian team. This is not a group you’ll see intimidated by the big stage or new foes.
While the US Open will be the Women’s Division’s first real look at Nova, more importantly, it is their first real look at themselves. The Québec team managed to do solidly at the Boston Invite this past weekend in their debut, notching wins over Bent and Green Means Go.
Many teams see a tournament this early as a litmus test, but for Nova, the measurement may be more of a tone setter. Success at this level, this early on, would be a good sign for their ability to compete for a spot on the world stage.