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York Lions’ Taylor Davison earns OUA First-Team All Star nod

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During a breakthrough season for the York Lions, culminating with a berth in the U SPORTS women’s nationals, one of the program’s feel-good stories saw the emergence of Taylor Davison as one of the elite competitors of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Conference. Possessing a set of playmaking abilities that made her more than the cornerstone of the defensive unit, but a key asset in the offensive attack, Davison, a fourth year player, who was raised in Oakville, Ontario, earned a well-deserved place as a member of the OUA First-Team All-Stars.

Becoming the first Lions player to receive First-Team honors since Kristen Barbara in 2015, it also marked the second straight season that a skater from the Lions have earned conference recognition. In the aftermath of the 2018-19 campaign, Jenna Gray earned a nod to the Second-Team. Davison, who was also an OUA All-Rookie Team selection in 2017, having not missed a game since her freshman season, joins Barbara as the only Lions player in the last ten years to have been both All-Rookie and All-Stars, both propelled into a treasured place in program lore.

“I felt very honoured to be recognized for that. This league is filled with a lot of really great players so that was very special for me. I could not have done it without the support and the play of my teammates. This year we really connected as a team and they had a lot to do with the success of my season.”

2019-20 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Finishing an exhilarating 2019-20 season tied with Gabrielle De Serres of the University of Toronto Lady Blues as the leading scorer among blueliners in OUA competition, Davison amassed an exemplary 23 points, tripling her point production from the previous season. Additionally, her 16 assists tied with Megan Johnston of the OUIT Ridgebacks for second in the conference, trialing Waterloo’s Taytum Clairmont by one.

Evolving into a highly versatile player, with the Lions recording an 8-3-0 mark when she logged at last one point, it marked a highly relevant statistical measure of her value to the program. Beyond the numbers, Davison also demonstrated a commitment towards taking on a much bigger leadership role. With commendable determination and effort, it stood as a template for the younger players to follow, who was proud of the overall team effort this season.

“Being one of the older defensemen on the team I tried to lead as an example on and off the ice and I felt as though I led through my hard work and commitment. Everyone knew their role and competed as hard as they could. The team had a very successful playoff run and it was due to all of us being prepared and following the game plan.”

Undeniably, Davison’s finest performance took place in a home affair on November 9, 2019, against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs. After one period of play, with Mustangs’ All-Canadian forward April Clark having scored the only goal, Davison led the charge in the second period.

Scoring merely 42 seconds into the period, with Avery Reeves, the eventual recipient of the 2020 York Sport Council Award, logging the assist, Davison would follow it up less than two minutes later, collaborating with Brooke Anderson on a goal by Kara Washer, enjoying their first lead of the game. Finishing said game by recording a hat trick, including the only goal of the third period, Davison was involved in every one of the Lions’ goals in a thrilling 4-2 victory.

For Davison, the hat trick marked a treasured milestone, signifying the first in her Lions career, and the first of the season in OUA hockey. Adding luster to such a feat involved the jubilation of recognition as the Lions Athlete of the Week, awarded on November 11. Affirming her status as one of the elites in OUA hockey, Davison’s efforts versus Western allowed the Lions to enjoy a seven-game winning streak, enabling the Lions to stake their claim as a nationally ranked program, marking her finest hour.

“That was a very special game to me and a highlight of my hockey career as I have never scored a hat trick before. Every win in this league is very important so it was nice to be able to contribute to getting the three points to advance in the standings.”

Another notable effort for Davison involved a three-assist game on home ice versus the defending national champion Guelph Gryphons. Assisting on a goal in each period of the February 7 game, including the first goal, scored by Ellen Donaldson, a second period marker by Taylor Coward, plus the game’s final goal, a power play tally by Kelsey McHolm, the contest held a highly emotional component.

Worth noting, Davison’s twin sister, Sydney, a fourth-year skater for the Gryphons, also participated in the game, adding a unique element to the distinguished competition between the two. Additionally, the exciting 5-2 final marked the Lions first win over the Gryphons in nine tries.

Davison’s efforts propelled the Lions into one of their greatest seasons ever. After seven consecutive campaigns of not qualifying for the OUA playoffs, the Lions not only ranked third overall in the highly competitive OUA, firmly entrenching the Lions as a contender for the McCaw Cup.

With a sterling postseason that saw the Lions sweep the Waterloo Warriors in the first round, including a 3-0 shutout by Serena Vilde, the second round resulted in a pair of convincing wins versus the Nipissing Lakers. The second game against the Lakers, a 6-2 win saw Davison score twice.

En route towards a collision with cross-town rivals Toronto Lady Blues in the McCaw Cup Finals, marking their first appearance on the OUA’s grandest stage since 1999. Although Courtney Gardiner scored the first goal of the game, followed by the Lions peppering Lady Blues’ backstop Erica Fryer with 14 shots in a scoreless second, a hard-fought effort, including 11 shots in the third period, the result was a difficult 3-1 loss, with no shortage of heart.

Although the Lady Blues captured their 18th Cup, the Lions qualified for the U SPORTS Nationals, an historic first, marking a fascinating summit attained in program lore. Scheduled to play the McGill Martlets in the opening round at Charlottetown’s MacLauchlan Arena, the match and tournament were both cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus.

UNIVERSITY AWARDS

Such a breakthrough season also saw Davison and her fellow Lions enjoy a remarkable number of accolades and honours among the University’s athletic community. Among the most prestigious awards in York Lions Varsity Athletics involved obtaining the revered Roar Cup, won by the women’s ice hockey team for the third straight season.

Recognizing a varsity team in Lions athletics with four different metrics by which points are granted, including community outreach, attendance at events and athletic and academic achievements, women’s ice hockey certainly represents the gold standard of the Roar Cup.

In addition, the Lions gained recognition with the Most Improved Team Award, exemplified not just by their magical playoff run, but a regular season success which saw them enjoy six more wins compared to the 2018-19 season. Peaking as high as Number 6 in the national rankings, the Lions’ excellence also saw them land the University’s Spirit Cup, adding to the legacy established with a brilliant season.

Before Davison’s dream season expired, she was poised for one more honour. Acclaimed as one of the University’s most celebrated student-athletes, Davison, also a recipient of the team’s Most Valuable Player Award, was a deserving finalist for the York Lions Female Athlete of the Year Award.

Part of a group of celebrated athletes including U SPORTS bronze medal wrestler Bailey Agard, basketball star Lauren Golding, the U SPORTS female athlete of the month for January, Teni Odetoyinbo from the soccer program, plus volleyball player Sarah Williams, it marked a crowing touch for Davison. Becoming part of the conversation as one of the University’s finest student-athletes, her most admirable quality is best defined by her team-first approach, quick to recognize that any success attained was attributed to an overall effort, she has earned a treasured place in the uUniversity’s ice hockey lore, destined to be remembered for a breakthrough season that transformed the Lions into a national power.

“It was very special to me as it was the first time I had been nominated for that award. It was an honour to be nominated beside the other four outstanding athletes at York. I owe my success to my teammates and coaches, as we all had an amazing year which led to a successful season.”

”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Featured image by Placide Ilunga

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