2018 was an incredibly successful one for Western Mustangs athletics. From the football program’s second straight trip to the Vanier Cup to OUA medal finishes from a number of programs across both men’s and women’s sports, Western solidified itself as one of the best athletic schools in the country.
Among the highest highs Western’s athletic department experienced in 2018 was the success of the Mustangs football team, its crown jewel in U Sports' primary showcase sport. Greg Marshall’s squad won 11 straight games in 2018, riding their perfect record to a Vanier Cup rematch with the Laval Rouge et Or. Although they lost to Laval in front of a raucous and hostile Quebec City crowd, the Mustangs again reaffirmed their place at the top of the Canadian university football hierarchy.
2018 also saw a massively successful season from the women’s hockey program, which won the McCaw Cup as Ontario University Athletics champions before hosting the nation’s best women’s hockey teams as the U Sports women’s hockey national championship came to London in the spring.
The Mustangs made a deep run in the tournament, rattling off back-to-back wins over the Montreal Carabins and Saskatchewan Huskies before falling to the Manitoba Bisons in the gold medal game. The team continued their success into the 2018–2019 season, laying the foundation for another OUA title run in 2019.
The men’s basketball program took major strides in 2018, at one point winning nine of 10 games in January and February en route to a 15–10 finish to the season and a return trip to the OUA playoffs. They also started off the 2018–19 season on a high note, winning seven of their first eleven games during a challenging schedule that saw them run through a murderers’ row of OUA opponents. For a program nearing the culmination of a rebuild, their impressive 2018 calendar year proved pivotal to the health and revitalization of a program trying to reach the top of the OUA.
Other Mustangs programs saw successful seasons in 2018. The cross country programs both captured bronze medals at the OUA championships. The figure skating team won an OUA silver medal. The men’s golf team also captured an OUA silver medal, with Mac Carter winning the individual championship. The men’s lacrosse team won their third straight Baggataway Cup as Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association champions, while the men’s and women’s soccer teams both medalled at the OUA Final Four.
The softball team won its 11th provincial title all-time and ninth in a row, the men’s and women’s swimming teams earned OUA silver medals, the men’s squash team won its 35th consecutive OUA championship while the women won a bronze medal. The tennis teams both won OUA golds, and the men’s track and field team earned a second place finish at the OUA championship. The women’s volleyball program won an OUA bronze medal, while the men’s volleyball team had a successful year in 2018 despite missing out on an OUA medal.
There were certainly lows as well, but none of such disastrous proportions that they shook the foundations of Western athletics. Certainly a mediocre run by the men’s hockey program, a tough 1-11 start to this season for the women’s basketball team and unremarkable finishes for the men’s and women’s rugby teams were far from the highs other teams experienced in 2018.
But with a plethora of medals in OUA and national competitions, and the football program’s sustained excellence, Mustangs athletics will look back at 2018 as one of the most successful in the school’s history.