Stevenson’s first MCAC goal represents four years of growth at PUC

In her final game with the Providence University College Pilots women’s soccer team, Rebekah Stevenson scored her first goal – a goal that represents her time and growth with the team.

“That was just the best feeling in the world. It was like the peak of everything, it was so cool because most of the girls have been playing with me for two, three years and they’ve seen me grow as a player and improve my soccer skills,” said Stevenson.

“It was cool to be a part of that and feel celebrated by all my team, by my coaches, it was cool because everyone has seen me grow in so many ways. Even some of the girls will be like, ‘I never celebrated so hard for a goal.’”

Stevenson’s growth at PUC was impressive because she had never played soccer before joining the team. She saw a poster in the hallway at school promoting soccer try outs and thought she would give it a shot because it would be a good way to meet people at her new school. She moved from Alberta to Winnipeg to take courses at the University of Manitoba before transferring to PUC.

“I literally showed up to soccer practice, like the tryout, in runners – I didn’t even have cleats yet,” she said with a laugh. “I really, really did dedicate time in trying to improve and anyone that saw me four years ago would say its night and day. You wouldn’t have expected it because of how much I’ve grown in my soccer skills.”

Pilots head coach, Tory Walker, says he didn’t have big expectations when Stevenson first joined the team, but her work ethic amazed him and her teammates.

“Over the past four seasons I have seen her grow into a really good soccer player,” said Walker. “Her first year, I found it difficult to even find her playing time, but this past year in her final season, she had developed so much that she challenged her teammates for a starting position.”

Stevenson says the athletic department at Providence builds a community between all of the teams at the school and she enjoyed the sense of community. She adds she enjoyed her time with the Pilots and plans to play in a league in Steinbach this year.

“I fell in love with soccer, so there’s no way I’m giving that up,” she said.

When Stevenson wasn’t on the pitch she was in the classroom. She is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and hopes to make a difference when she joins the workforce.

“I am hoping to get a job with Child and Family Services or some kind of youth shelter programming. I would love to do that,” she said. “I’ve always liked working with people, especially youth and it’s something I’m passionate about and I also really, really like to help people.”

Walker says Stevenson is a genuine person who loves and cares for her team. He adds she was a difference maker for the Pilots and she will be a difference maker in the world.

MCAC Men’s Basketball Championship Preview

#1 Red River College Rebels

The Rebels continued their MCAC dominance this season and secured the #1 seed with a 13-0 regular season record. RRC has won two consecutive MCAC championships and have won nine of the last 10 league titles.

RRC still has a veteran core with senior forward Mark Ridd and third-year guard Torrez McKoy leading the way. Ridd was a monster on the glass in last year’s championship game, grabbing 29 rebounds — he was named finals MVP. The Rebels edged out the PUC Pilots 76-68 in that game.

This year, McKoy is leading the Rebels with 20.2 points per game, ranking third in the league. The Rebels dominant season is fueled by an impressive field goal percentage — RRC has four of the top five shooters in the MCAC. Francesco Tocci is leading the league by hitting 61 per cent of his shots this season.

Tocci has had a dominant season on the defensive end of the court as well, averaging 10.1 rebounds per game and blocking 21 total shots.

RRC has a bye straight to the final on Saturday and will play the winner of Thursday’s semi-final between the CMU Blazers and PUC Pilots.

#2 Providence University College Pilots

After falling short in the championship game last season, the PUC Pilots are looking for redemption this year.

The Pilots’ are led by Jordan Lawson, the team’s captain. Lawson is leading the league with 33.4 points per game — highlighted by his 52-point night against the Rebels this season, an MCAC record.

A key addition for the Pilots this season has been first-year guard Bryant Smith. He’s second in the MCAC with 3.83 assists per game and has 17 total steals. Daniel Kilmartin has also been a force on the glass, averaging a league best 10.3 rebounds per game for PUC.

The Pilots are coming off a 106-89 win over LLTC and are hoping to carry their winning ways into their semi-final match against the CMU Blazers on Thursday.

“After splitting the decision against them [CMU] in the season, we are confident in our ability to play them and ready to fight our way to the final and face Red River,” said Pilots’ head coach Pierre Dubreuil.

The Pilots want to upset the Rebels, a team Lawson said he “hates losing to.”

#3 Canadian Mennonite University Blazers

After an early exit from last year’s MCAC playoffs, the CMU Blazers are looking to do what they did in 2017 — become league champions.

Isaiah Cole is leading the CMU attack this season, averaging 23.1 points per game — ranking second in the league behind PUC’s Lawson.

The Blazers will face the Pilots in the MCAC semi-final match, a team they recently split a weekend series with. One player that had success in both matches was Kalvin Mendez, he was named MCAC athlete of the week following the weekend series.

Mendez scored 29 points, and grabbed five rebounds in CMU’s win, and managed to net 21 points in the loss. The Blazers will need a similar outing from Mendez to help lead them past the Lawson led PUC attack.

Pacifique Jubilate has been a key contributor on the glass this season for the Blazers, averaging 10 rebounds per game — third best in the MCAC.

The Blazers will look to take care of business on Thursday and play the Rebels on Saturday for their first title since 2017.

Katelin Thiessen is the MCAC Female Athlete of the Week

Thiessen’s double-double Friday and 19 points Saturday helped the Pilots sweep their weekend series against SWC

Third year guard Katelin Thiessen played an unusual low number of minutes in PUC’s two games last weekend, but still managed to record a double-double of 12 points and ten rebounds on Friday, while netting 19 points in Saturday’s match.

“She put up solid numbers, while playing about half of her normal minutes,” said Pilots head coach Joel Coursey. 

The Pilots topped the Sisseton Wahpeton College Mustangs 88-58 on Friday and 85-46 on Saturday. PUC got out to big leads in both games, allowing the team to distribute more bench minutes. 

Thiessen contributed defensively as well with five steals throughout the two games.

“She leads our team with her intensity and work ethic, which translates into her on court success,” said Coursey. “Katelin has continued to add to her game, but what has always been at the foundation is the ‘never quit’ mentality.”

Thiessen is from Sprague, Manitoba and is in taking social sciences at Providence University College.

The Pilots tip-off again on Friday, Jan. 17 when they host the TBC Lions.

“We will look to Katelin’s leadership in the second semester as we try to earn an MCAC championship,” said Coursey.

Kole Bergman is the MCAC Male Athlete of the Week

Bregman slammed down 27 kills throughout the weekend

PUC Pilots right-side Kole Bergman played a big role in outlasting the top-ranked CMU Blazers in a five-set match last Friday, handing the Blazers their first loss of the season.

Bergman displayed his net presence throughout the weekend, killing 27 balls and stretching for seven blocks. 

“Kole is a big presence at the net, both offensively and defensively, and we are excited about his continued development and impact for our team,” said Pilots head coach Scott Masterson. “When he is attacking well, he is almost impossible to stop as his jumping ability gives him so many options.”

The Pilots won a thrilling match over the Blazers on Friday but fell 3-1 to the ACC Cougars the following day.

Bergman showcased his defensive play as well and got down for nine digs in the two matches.

Masterson said he has seen Bergman develop since last season.

“We have been able to rely on him more and more,” he said.

Bergman is from Carman, Manitoba and is enrolled in the business administration program at PUC.

The Pilots enter the winter break in second place and a 6-2 record. The team will be back on the court on Friday, Jan. 10 to face the USB Les Rouges.