The high school sports season is quickly coming to an end — and, for me, the one good thing about that is it will likely eliminate my weekly migraine and be a huge relief not having to crunch a list of great weekly athletes down to 10.
With playoffs, fewer games too, it would appear as if the final choices are easier. Not so. In fact, in some cases, there are tougher choices. While 10 are picked, let's face it, there are dozens more who have done exceptionally well this week with a top performance, a personal best or a significant highlight.
Thanks to all the folks —- players, coaches, administrators, teachers, parents, officials —- who have taken time to offer up opinions, recommend players and even try to sway me. I appreciate the honesty, straightforwardness and suggestions.
Lots of words in the explanations. These student athletes, representing seven sports, deserve it. Here we go with the picks of the week.
Heather Brown, Cardinal Newman. Grade 9 starter on the school varsity soccer team. Scored both goals in a 2-1 semifinal win over Loretto Abbey and a few days later was a big factor in a 3-1 win over St. Basil for the Toronto District Colleges Athletic Association championship. Almost forgot, she scored all three goals. Now, it’s off to the provincial playoffs.
Siobhain Doyle, Mary Ward. Flag football may not be the most popular game in town, but it is a varsity sport for girls at some high schools. Doyle has shown she’s quite the athlete, scoring three touchdowns and converting them in a 21-12 win over R.H. King. Not done. She had a touchdown, convert and single in a 28-0 victory over SATEC/Porter.
Noelle Leon-Palmer, Pickering. Five first-place finishes at the rain-soaked central regional track and field qualifiers in Midland. Get this, she’s only in Grade 9. First in the midget girls’ 80 metre hurdles (12.61), 100 metres (12.61) and 200 metres (25.05) Add a super performance in her leg of the winning 4 x 100-metre relay team (51.21) and another brilliant race with the open girls’ 4 x 400-metre team (4:01.14).
Robyn Matos, St. Thomas Aquinas. Four goals from her in a 10-2 blowout of Burlington Central at the Halton Region senior girls’ soccer quarterfinals. Matos is not new to the game. She was on the school team that won a silver medal, losing 2-1 to Holy Cross of Peterborough, at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations provincial playoffs last year. Aquinas finished 4-1-2 in league play this season.
Djordje Mihaljcic, Don Mills. He’s a good swimmer. Has to be, to play water polo — and he does that well also. Scored 10 times, you read that correctly, in a 15-14 quarterfinal win over Northview Heights in a Toronto District School Board game. Tried to find out if one of his goals was the winner. No luck. Next up: Richview in a sudden-death game on Tuesday.
Jordan Pilosof, Greenwood. He won the private school junior boys’ singles tennis final, beating Crescent’s Dominic Chu 8-6. Read on. A talented player, it’s hard to believe this youngster – born nine weeks premature and weighing less than three pounds – spent some time at the Valentine Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Back to tennis, he spent some time at a world-renowned tennis academy in Florida.
Shayne Snider, Mayfield. Haven’t seen him play, but heard lots about this lacrosse player. I am told that he might be among the best in his league. He scored four goals in the Mavericks 7-4 win over Brampton Centennial for the Peel Region championship. To get to the final, he scored four times in an 11-2 semifinal drubbing of Mount Carmel.
Chanice Taylor-Chase, Notre Dame. That’s the school in Ajax and she’s helped raise the profile too. Last year, came out of nowhere to dominate in her events at the league, regional and provincial track and field finals. This year, so far much of the same – but up a level in the junior category. Getting ready for the Ontario finals, she was first in the 80 metre hurdles (11.56), 200 metres (24.94) and long jump (5.20) at the Central Regionals.
Divyanthan Thasarathan, Bill Crothers. Track fans told me about him at the Cardinal Carter Classic, where the midget-age athlete won the triple and long jumps. Then jumped to victory, twice, at the York Region championships. And he proved he could win yet again, this time at the very competitive Central Regional finals, taking the long jump in 6.03 metres and the triple jump in 12.64.
Liam Underwood, Malvern. His name has been on this list before – and for good reason. A talented athlete, quarterback for the school football team. On the rugby pitch, he scored a try last year in Malvern’s citywide senior win. He scored a try again, added two converts and a penalty kick, this time in a 27-12 gold medal win over Birchmount Park on Friday.