StFX’s Joanna Alphonso named conference MVP
October 30, 2015 (ANTIGONISH, N.S.) – Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2015 women’s rugby major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference’s four head coaches following the regular season.
Second-year StFX prop Joanna Alphonso has been named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player. This is the ninth time in the past 11 seasons that a member of the StFX X-Women has earned the honour.
Other AUS major award winners announced tonight following the Subway AUS Rugby Championship final hosted by StFX University were UPEI flanker Anneke Dykerson of Charlottetown, P.E.I., who was named rookie of the year; UPEI number eight Lauren Chamberlain of Fall River, N.S., who received the student-athlete community service award; and StFX X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh, who was named the AUS coach of the year for the ninth time in his career.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Joanna Alphonso, StFX
Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby’s 2015 most valuable player is Joanna Alphonso of the first-place and CIS No. 5-ranked StFX X-Women.
Alphonso led the AUS in tries this regular season with nine. She had the second most total points with 45 on the season.
A second-year arts student from Ajax, Ont., this is Alphonso’s second consecutive year being named to the AUS all-star team. She also took home AUS rookie of the year honours last season.
“Joanna is a big, athletic prop who is a tremendous ball carrier with a great nose for the try line,” said X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh. “On defence she is a tremendous tackler and is also a great scrummager. Joanna is ideal in the set piece which allows a great platform to attack from.”
Alphonso led the StFX X-Women to a 5-1 regular season record and a first-place finish in the AUS standings. Last year, in her inaugural season, the X-Women captured both the AUS and CIS championship banners.
Alphonso’s win marks the 11th time a StFX women’s rugby player has been crowned conference MVP since the award’s inception in 2000. She joins the ranks of fellow X-Women Emma Taylor (named MVP in 2014), Tyson Beukeboom (2012, 2011, 2010), Ghislaine Landry (2009, 2008, 2007, 2006), Danielle Goulet (2002) and Deanna Bennett (2000).
Alphonso now becomes this year’s AUS nominee for CIS most valuable player. Former X-Women standout Ghislaine Landry was the last AUS student-athlete to take home this honour. She earned the accolade in 2008 and 2007.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Anneke Dykerman, UPEI
Anneke Dykerman of the UPEI Panthers is the 2015 Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby rookie of the year.
The highly-touted recruit from Charlottetown, P.E.I. played in all six of the Panthers regular season games as well as in their post-season matchup.
She scored a try in UPEI’s final game of the regular season versus the Saint Mary’s Huskies as the Panthers cruised to a 57-7 win.
“Anneke’s dynamic style of play changed the dynamic of the backline at UPEI,” said Panthers head coach Shannon Atkins. “Her dedication and passion for the sport during a time of great adversity was amazing.”
Dykerman becomes just the second AUS rookie of the year to be selected from the UPEI Panthers since the award’s inception in 2000. Former Panthers standout Ashley MacDonald is the only other UPEI player to have won the award. She earned the honour is 2004.
Former CIS player of the year Ghislaine Landry of StFX was the last Atlantic conference player to be named CIS rookie of the year in 2006. A UPEI player has yet to earn the national honour.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Cavanagh, StFX
For the ninth time in his 17-year career as the head coach of the StFX X-Women program, Mike Cavanagh has been chosen by his peers as the Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby coach of the year.
Cavanagh previously won the award in 2014, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2002 and 2001. He was also named CIS coach of the year in both 2012 and 2001.
This season, Cavanagh guided the CIS No. 5-ranked and 17-time defending AUS conference champion X-Women to a 5-1 record and their 13th first-place finish since the 2002 season.
His 2015 StFX squad allowed the fewest points against in six regular season games this year with 52.
Since 2002, Cavanagh’s career record now stands at 81-3-2 in AUS regular season play. His overall record since 2002, including AUS playoff and CIS championship contests, is now 122-28-5 heading into tonight’s championship final.
His X-Women have never lost an Atlantic University Sport playoff game, sporting a perfect 17-0 record heading into this year’s AUS championship. He has also guided the X-Women to 17 consecutive CIS championship appearances.
“We are proud of Mike and his many accomplishments,” said StFX director of athletics, Leo MacPherson. “He continues to have great success with his rugby teams as he recruits talented student-athletes with high character. He does a great job of getting these student-athletes to become fully invested in their team in order to build their championship culture.”
Cavanagh is one of only two AUS head coaches to be named CIS coach of the year. Acadia Axewomen head coach Matt Durant took home the honour most recently in 2013.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Lauren Chamberlain, UPEI
The 2015 student-athlete community service award recipient is Lauren Chamberlain of the UPEI Panthers.
A fourth-year doctor of veterinary medicine student from Fall River, N.S., Chamberlain is the UPEI coordinator for the Get REAL program, which she single-handedly brought to the university.
Get REAL is a movement of university students across Canada who speak to high school student about unlearning LGBTQ discrimination and bullying, and creating an inclusive environment for every student. Chamberlain has organized several events at UPEI since last January and brought a great deal of awareness to the cause on campus.
In addition to her work with Get REAL, 5-foot-9 number eight is on the committee for Bringing Back the Bystander – a group bringing awareness to sexual assault and encouraging those who know of or witness potential incidences to speak out.
Furthermore, Chamberlain is the class of 2019 sports and athletic representative for the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), the representative for Let’s Talk Science for the AVC, and a surgical assistant for the Cat Action Team – a coalition to aid feral cats in P.E.I.
“Lauren has always been a high achiever,” said Panthers head coach Shannon Atkins. “She attacks all that she does, and 2015 was no different. She volunteers for many great causes, and lives life to the fullest all the time.”
Chamberlain is the second-ever player from UPEI to be honoured with this award since its inception in 2009. Current teammate Shanda Mosher-Gallant earned the honour for the Panthers last season.
Mosher-Gallant also became the first UPEI rugby player to win the national award and the second-ever AUS student-athlete to earn the CIS honour. StFX’s Jamee George took home the award in 2010.
2015 AUS WOMEN’S RUGBY ALL-STARS
The 2015 Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby all-stars were also announced Friday evening following the championship final. They are as follows:
Front row: Joanna Alphonso, StFX (2nd year – Ajax, Ont.)
Front row: Holly Jones, UPEI (4th year – Riverview, N.B.)
Front row: Catharine MacKeigan, StFX (4th year – Toronto, Ont.)
Second row: Emma Delory, Acadia (4th year – Halifax, N.S.)
Second row: Veronique Russell, Acadia (5th year – Markham, Ont.)
Back row: Amy Thompson, Saint Mary’s (4th year – Halifax, N.S.)
Back row: Brooke Newsome, StFX (3rd year – Brantford, Ont.)
Back row: Danielle Wisen, Acadia (2nd year – Wellington, N.S.)
Scrum half: Emily Keen, UPEI (3rd year – Marshfield, P.E.I.)
Fly half: Sabrina McDaid, StFX (4th year – Scarborough, Ont.)
Centre: Maddie MacKenzie, Acadia (3rd year – Peterborough, Ont.)
Centre: Natalie Lesco, StFX (4th year – London, Ont.)
Winger: Rachel Chapman, Acadia (3rd year – Halifax, N.S.)
Winger: Alysha Corrigan, UPEI (2nd year – Sherwood, P.E.I.)
Fullback: Hannah Wallace, Saint Mary’s (4th year – New Glasgow, N.S.)