Sports – The Cord The tie that binds Wilfrid Laurier University since 1926 Mon, 19 Nov 2018 23:06:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sports – The Cord 32 32 42727683 Golden Hawks rugby take home OUA bronze for first medal in team history Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:33 +0000

Photo by garrison Oosterhof

The Wilfrid Laurier men’s rugby team captured their first medal in team history on Saturday, Nov. 10, with a thrilling 17-6 win over the Waterloo Warriors. 

After their loss in the bronze medal game last year, the Hawks had a lot to prove on Saturday. Add in the fact that this game was the biggest ‘Battle of Waterloo’ so far this year, there was more incentive than ever for Laurier to put up a good performance. 

The game got off to a shaky start for the purple and gold, as the Warriors jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first half.

The Warriors were led by 2018 OUA MVP Mitch Voralek, who scored all six of the points for Waterloo through two penalties.

This was unfamiliar territory for Laurier as they had not been in many situation where they have had to come from behind. For the most part, the Hawks had dominated their opposition throughout the season, from start to finish.

But the Hawks shut down Waterloo’s offence in the second half, not allowing a single point. The Hawks tied the game at six with a huge try from Aidan Nesbitt. 

Laurier then took the lead with 10 minutes left to play through 2017 OUA MVP, Andrew Quattrin. 

The fifth year veteran then capped off what was his last game for the Hawks with another try to give the victory to Laurier.

Quattrin’s presence will be missed and he showed just how valuable he is to the Hawks in his final game.

Another big part of the Hawks’ second half comeback was their home field advantage. 

The crowd were right behind the team throughout the game, and they raised the noise to another level when the Hawks finally got on the board. 

The Hawks made history in 2017 by winning their first playoff game in modern team history, and this year they raised their game to another level by winning their first medal ever.

The fans matched the players’ intensity throughout the game.

Although the Hawks’ playoff run came to an end last week, they showed no signs of a lack of passion. 

“Our staff is extremely proud to have been a part of this historic run for Laurier rugby. This was not something that happened over night, but has been building for the last five years. At the end of the day, it’s about the program and players, and whether or not those players buy in,” coach Ian McLeod said.  

“Fortunately, we have a tremendous leadership group that has continually pushed this program and its members forward with medal winning performances in mind. This year we were able to achieve part of the goal.”

The Hawks have now made history in consecutive years: last year they won their first playoff game ever, and this year they received their first medal ever.

The Hawks showed a tremendous amount of resilience to come back and win this game. 

This victory is even more impressive than it looks because the Hawks had not been trailing on many occasions during the season, but they managed to survive the adversity when they needed to.  

“The process of building a winning program is ongoing and must continually be worked on month after month, year after year. We are losing some huge contributors to our program this year both on and off the field,” coach McLeod added. 

Along with Quattrin, Ryan Gamm, Jeff Wood, Darnell Marks, Kevin Le, Derek Boyd and Chris Williamson will also be leaving the men’s rugby program.  

Losing seven players isn’t easy for any sports program and these players were crucial to the Hawks’ immense success over the past two years.

Although these are massive losses for the team, McLeod pointed out the fact that this will now create a great opportunity for others on the roster. 

“These are huge shoes to fill and create a fantastic opportunity for those wanting to fill those positions. If we’ve done our job from a recruiting standpoint, hopefully we can come close to what those young men brought to the program.”

The men’s rugby program has now created a winning mentality and expectations will continue to grow for the Hawks. 

It will be fascinating to see how the new recruits adapt to a program that is on the rise and one that is seemingly getting better every year. 

The Hawks are losing seven leaders and it will now be up to the youngsters to fill that leadership void that will be gone with the departure of the veterans.

But the expectations for the Hawks aren’t going to change.

“The expectation for next year is the same we have every year: to be playing on the last weekend, competing in a gold medal game. We have yet to get there so our job as coaches and players is far from done, but we feel we’re on the right track.”

The team is on the right track thanks to a great blend of leadership and talent from top to bottom. 

Under coach McLeod and his staff, the Hawks have experienced constant growth and eventual success.  

The Hawks made history in 2017 by winning their first playoff game in modern team history, and this year they raised their game to another level by winning their first medal ever. 

With the amount of improvement within this program year after year, the sky is the limit for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s rugby team.   

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Hawks fall to Rams on “Embrace Your Culture” night Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:12 +0000

Saturday night was “Embrace Your Culture” night, celebrating the many different ethnicities and diversity of all the Golden Hawks players as both the women’s and men’s teams faced off against the Ryerson Rams.
“I think there are many cultures that should be acknowledged and recognized. Living in kind of a white, mainstream society, it’s nice to highlight other ethnic diversities and cultures. I definitely think that was a good idea and I think that a lot of people could feel extra prideful just for being acknowledged,” said Skye Johns of the Laurier women’s basketball team.
After a hard-fought 67-65 win against the Toronto Varsity Blues, where the Golden Hawks managed to pull away in the fourth quarter, their biggest challenge followed in the number two Ryerson Rams.
With Sofia Paska out, there was some work cut out but that Rams team isn’t just any team.
The Rams came out firing, opening the game up on a 9-2 run in the first three minutes. From there, the Golden Hawks slowly came to find their footing, especially in the second quarter where they managed to pull themselves within six points, down 34-28 going into halftime.
The third quarter is where this game got flipped on its head and became a showing out party for the Rams.
They opened up with a 14-0 run and never looked back from there for the rest of the game.
The Hawks never found any rhythm or their footing again and fell to the Rams by a final score of 79-54.
“I think right out of the gate, maybe we weren’t great that first quarter defensively, but then we got into a bit of a rhythm, got more stops and were able to keep them under control on our glass,” coach Falco said.
“And then we got our offence going a little bit, some transition stuff. So definitely a decent first half for us and unfortunately didn’t come out of the gates well in that third quarter.”

“I felt like that happened a lot today where we miss a layup or something and they come down and just make a shot. So we weren’t able to make key shots at key moments to stop the bleeding.”

The second half of the double-header came with the men’s team playing against the number two Ryerson Rams.
After thrashing the Toronto Varsity Blues by a score of 83-50 the night before and having given other top teams problems, this was expected to be a great game.
The Ryerson Rams had other plans though.
Missing their big man Tanor Ngom, they came out to prove how dominant they really are anyways, coming out with one of the most impressive performances seen this season.
The Rams came out with a high level of intensity to go along with ridiculously strong defensive play. Their length and activity on the defensive end stifled the Golden Hawks from the tip.
It also didn’t help when 6’8” guard Jean-Victor Mukama came out cooking to the tune of 13 first quarter points and finished with 27 points.
The Rams were especially keyed in on stopping star Golden Hawks guard Ali Sow and with them getting so many stops on everyone else, they never allowed it be close. Not only that, they kept pushing their lead to the tune of a 97-52 win.
“Their length is pretty impressive. Defensively, they’re just not giving you a lot of things to play with in terms of their ability to switch almost every single position,” coach Serresse said.
“We didn’t make shots at key moments. The one that stood out is down 13, Chuder’s got an open corner 3, we miss, they go back down and they make an open 3 in transition, then down 16.”
“I felt like that happened a lot today where we miss a layup or something and they come down and just make a shot. So we weren’t able to make key shots at key moments to stop the bleeding.”
Next up for the Golden Hawks will be the Queen’s Gaels and York Lions in back-to-back road games.

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Remarkable Rookies: Football player Tyler Eckert recognized as an OUA All-Rookie Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:59:05 +0000

Photo by Jackie Vang

In what was otherwise a gloomy 2018 season for the Laurier football team, freshman Tyler Eckert was one of the few bright spots.

The defensive lineman’s strong play during the year was recognized last week, as he was named a member of the OUA All-Rookie team.

“It was an honour to be recognized by the whole OUA,” Eckert said. “I’m really proud to represent Laurier.”
In seven regular season games, Eckert recorded an impressive 13.5 tackles for the Golden Hawks, along with half a sack and two tackles for losses.

The game where Eckert started to become well-known to Laurier football fans, was week three against Waterloo where he recorded a season high three tackles.
“I was really happy with [that] Waterloo game,” Eckert mentioned. “I made my first big solo tackle on special teams and that really got me going that game.”

Eckert was the only rookie on the team that was a consistent member of the defensive line, with the rest of the core being made up of third and fourth year players. Being around that veteran presence definitely had a lasting effect on Eckert.

“Guys like Trevaughan James and Robbie Smith taught me so much. [Not] just on-field skills, [but also] how to carry yourself off the field, around the locker room and how to be more of a professional around the sport.”

“The D-Line group is one of the best groups on the team for everyone being an equal,” Eckert stated. “It doesn’t matter if you are a fourth year starter or you haven’t played a snap in a game yet. Everyone is equal and everyone talks with each other.”

Despite the Golden Hawks finishing with a disappointing 4-4 record on the season, missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the team still had one of the strongest defences in the province. Eckert played a big role in helping the team finish with the second fewest rushing yards allowed per game in the OUA.
However, regardless of the personal success early in his university football career, Eckert isn’t content with just maintaining the status quo.
“I’d like to contribute a lot more next year. I’m really hoping to put some size on me and really improve my strength game.”
With an impressive first chapter in his time as a Golden Hawk coming to a close, it will be exciting to see what is still to be written in Eckert’s Laurier career going forward.

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Laurier BBA grads start protein powder company Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:01:56 +0000

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A pair of Wilfrid Laurier Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) graduates have recently started their own protein powder company called ‘Suppy’.

Tom Honor and Logan Moore launched Suppy Canada-wide on Oct. 29 in an effort to “disrupt the opaque and notoriously overpriced sports nutrition industry.”

Honor and Moore discussed what went into launching the company, along with other details about Suppy in a recent interview.

“We got the idea for starting the company kind of through university. We were always into sports and we started going to the gym towards the end of university and we were always taking protein but we were frustrated with how much we had to pay,” Honor said.

“We didn’t see the value in it. So we looked into it and realized that a lot of these companies are basically being greedy and there’s an opportunity to simplify the whole thing and that’s what we did.”

Honor and Moore promise to offer premium protein powder at a much lower price than their competitors.

The BBA graduates have taken a big step to offer a seemingly overpriced product to students at a discounted rate, and it will be interesting to see how much Suppy is able to grow.

Although a low price often indicates a downgrade in quality for many people, Honor and Moore pointed out that the low price is a direct byproduct of streamlining their supply chain.

“The product quality is as premium as the competitors on the market. What [the low price] comes down to is the distribution channels. We don’t have bulky packaging, we don’t have all these different suppliers and warehouses down in the supply chain. For us, the challenge is going to be communicating the value of the product,” Honor said.

When asked to give advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Logan Moore explained that the most significant thing is taking that all-important first step.

“The whole thing is about just taking that first step. It’s about doing what you love. If you want to start a business, it’s all about just starting and going from there,” he said.

Even though there are only two flavours available right now, Honor and Moore are planning to eventually expand as much as possible.

“We’re trying to smart small. The whole concept comes down to creating a high quality product and keeping things simple. [Right now] we only have one product in two flavours. Eventually, we want to build that up and potentially look at other markets. We did some research and saw that there was a big opportunity in this country. We haven’t looked at a lot of the other countries, but that will be the next step,” Honor said.

The BBA graduates have taken a big step to offer a seemingly overpriced product to students at a discounted rate, and it will be interesting to see how much Suppy is able to grow.

The product is available for purchase online at

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Accolades continue for Hawks as Ballantyne wins coach of the year award Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:01:38 +0000

File Photo / Photo by Safina Husein

Coach Scott Ballantyne has done it again, but only bigger and better.

Having won his second OUA Coach of the Year award last year, the only thing that could have gone better was winning the OUA championship.

“I think certainly for me, I would trade in the coach of the year award for an OUA championship any day of the week. It was nice to be able to get both of those this year.”

2018 turned out to be the year of redemption. Coach Ballantyne, putting together another highly impressive squad, collected his third OUA Coach of the Year award in his 12th year, and this time, the Hawks got their revenge taking the OUA title to go along with it.

After having five all-stars last year, there were four Golden Hawks who represented Laurier on the first (Ryley Davenport and Keifer Quick) and second (Matthew Komonen and Christian Hauck) OUA all-star teams.

Before the individual accolades came the team success though. Led by Ballantyne, Laurier finished at the top of the regular season standings once again. The next goal was the OUA final, where they had been runners-up the last couple of years. Looking for their first title since 2013, the Hawks proved eager and ready.

Behind winning a third Coach of the Year award and second OUA title, Ballantyne’s resume is one of greatness and excellence. Which also happens to be what he has brought to Laurier baseball.

“Getting there and getting so close last year, watching the other team celebrate on the field while you’re in the other dugout is not a fun experience but it’s a good experience to go through from a growing perspective and a learning perspective and I think the guys took it to heart watching Toronto celebrate on the field,” coach Ballantyne said.

“It felt like they didn’t want that to happen again.”

Their opponent: the very team they lost to last year and rivals, the Toronto Varsity Blues. After going up 2-0, the Varsity Blues seemed to have the game in the bag to some.

The Hawks had other plans in mind though, as they came back and pushed the game the distance.

In the bottom of the tenth inning, it was first-year outfielder and second team all-star Matthew Komonen who was the hero for the Golden Hawks as his walk-off single brought in the final run to earn the Golden Hawks their 2nd OUA title in school history and win by the final score of 4-3.

Outscoring opponents by a margin of 35-14, the Hawks proved too dominant and determined to lose this year.

“The experience that we gained in 2017 helped us just to not get caught up in the moment and not worry. The guys didn’t panic, we just stuck to it and finally broke through.”

“The experience of being there and being so close made the guys hungrier and ready to go for this year and got the job done.”

Behind winning a third Coach of the Year award and second OUA title, Ballantyne’s resume is one of greatness and excellence. Which also happens to be what he has brought to Laurier baseball.

“I think it’s more of a win for our whole coaching staff. We have a very experienced coaching staff that work hard with our guys every day at practice and really take care of business and get ourselves ready. Winning that award is not just an individual award for me but an extension of our whole coaching staff and something we can all be proud,” Coach Ballantyne proclaimed.

Having had such a great amount of success over the last six years, it’s hard to envision it stopping anytime soon.

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Laurier cross country teams qualify for national championships Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:00:41 +0000

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“Runners, take your mark,” are the final words heard before what feels like the longest, yet shortest moment of silence before the gun shot sounds to begin the exhilarating chaos that is a cross country race. Spectators go silent, athletes are still, and it is the final chance for everyone to catch their breath before adrenaline rises and the excitement begins.

This Saturday hundreds of runners will line the start at the 2018 USPORTS Cross Country Championships in Kingston, Ontario. Laurier’s men’s and women’s teams will both be standing at that start line, and if you look closely enough you will see fifth year runner Joe Sheridan, and third year runner Sydney Pattison line the start line with the Golden Hawks.

Both the men and women’s cross country teams qualified to complete at the USPORTS championship, meaning that they placed top 10 at the OUA championship held in London, ON, on Oct. 27.

“It’s exciting to be going [to the championships] with a full team, and it’s cool that nationals is in Ontario this year, so a lot of our families get to come watch,” said Pattison of the championships being held at an OUA course.

“Everyone’s ready to run nationals, I think we’re all pretty confident moving forward,” said Sheridan of his teammate’s attitudes going into the Championship.

The Golden Hawks opened their 2018 season on this course, where Pattison and Sheridan had solid performances, and they are both hoping to repeat if not improve on their times.

This race will be Sheridan’s final race of his university cross country career of which he hopes to settle some “unfinished business” from last year’s USPORTS Championship race in Victoria, BC where he unfortunately fell during the race due to the muddy course conditions.

“I’m just trying to move past that and just finish with a really good race. That’s my mindset going in and just cap off my time at Laurier,” explained Sheridan.

Cross country is a sport that requires “mileage, carbs, and mental toughness,” chuckled Pattison as she describes what it takes to be a cross country runner. As much as cross county is an individual sport, it is also very much a team sport.

As a team, your top five to seven runners have the ability to score points in the race. With cross country, very much like golf, the lowest score wins.

The higher you place (highest being first), the less points you score for your team, the better.

“I’m not just running for me, I need to keep my position for my team,” explains Pattison. As a runner you want to be able to run a good individual race, but also hold your position for your overall team standings.

With cross country every race is different. As a runner you need to remind yourself what variables you can and cannot control. The Kingston course has a reputation of being a muddy one, and the forecast for the weekend is predicted to be both cold and rainy. Varying conditions is part of what makes cross country very much a psychological sport.

“You have to try not to think about the rain, or the mud or something like that.

Just know that everyone else is going through that too, you’re not the only one,” said Pattison expressing one way that she keeps her focus on the race.

Cross country is as much a psychological sport as it is physical. Sheridan and Pattison both shared the strategy of counting their steps to a number such as six or seven can help to control their mind while in the race in order to stay physically and mentally in competition mode.

“When [I’m] really struggling, I just find that I start doing that count in my head and trying to pull myself back into it,” said Sheridan.

The team has been tapering back their typical 15 to 18 kilometre workouts in preparation for the big day.

“[We] are focusing on recover for the race, and more about nutrition this week than mileage. Lots of carbs,” said Pattison.

Not only are the Golden Hawks recovering from the previous week’s workouts, but they are also recovering from a couple of injury issues at the OUA Championship.

“Everyone’s ready to run nationals, I think we’re all pretty confident moving forward,” said Sheridan of his teammate’s attitudes going into the Championship.

As mentioned, every race is different, and without any stress of getting a particular place, the Golden Hawks are going to focus on having the best performances that they can.

“When you get into the races it’s just who’s the toughest, who can last the longest, and who can just grind even when it’s cold out or muddy,” expressed Joe.

A season full of miles and carb loading has come down to this final race. The Golden Hawks are sure to show up in Kingston to that highly anticipated start line with grit and determination to then leave it all on the course.

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Golden Hawks varsity sports weekend recap Wed, 07 Nov 2018 12:00:39 +0000

Men’s Rugby

The Laurier men’s rugby team has had an impressive season so far, but unfortunately their playoff run came to a heartbreaking end at the hands of the Guelph Gryphons.

Although the Hawks had the lead for most of the game, the Gryphons pulled off a magnificent second half comeback to win by a final score of 34-26.

The season isn’t over for the team yet though, as they will compete for the OUA bronze medal next week against the University of Waterloo in what is shaping up to be the biggest ‘Battle of Waterloo’ of the year.

Photo by Garrison Oosterhof

Photo by Tanzeel Sayani

Men’s and Women’s Basketball

Both the women’s and men’s basketball teams were in action this past weekend against Carleton and Ottawa.

It was a slightly better weekend for the men’s team as they went 1-1.

The Hawks put up an impressive performance against the number one ranked Carleton Ravens and although they lost by a final score of 80-77, they showed a lot of heart against arguably the best team in the country.

The Hawks then followed that performance up with a nice win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees thanks to a tremendous performance by Ali Sow who put up 30 points.

The women’s team struggled in Ottawa as they went 0-2 against the Ravens and Gee-Gees.

The Hawks couldn’t get anything going offensively, and that was ultimately their demise. Laurier’s record is now 1-3 and they will look to get back on track next weekend as they take on the University of Toronto and Ryerson at home.

Women’s and Men’s Hockey

The Laurier women’s and men’s hockey teams split a pair of games over the weekend against Windsor and Western.

The women took down Windsor 3-0 as goaltender Cohen Myers made 30 saves and earned her first career shutout and win as a Golden Hawk.

This was also the Hawks’ first win of the season and head coach Kelly Paton’s first win as Laurier’s head coach.

Unfortunately, the Hawks lost against Western on the second night of the back-to-back as they gave up two crucial goals in the third period.

The men’s team was involved in two nail-biting contests against Windsor and Western.

The Hawks fell just short against the Lancers by a final score of 5-4 but bounced back with a shootout win against the Mustangs.

It was a thrilling game between the rivals and the Hawks won largely in part to goalie Tyler Fassl’s performance as he came up with big save after big save.

The men will now take on the Guelph Gryphons at home on Nov. 8 while the women will face the Warriors in the ‘Battle of Waterloo’ on Nov. 9.

Photo by Qiao Liu

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Hawks’ playoff run ends with a hard fought battle against the Gryphons Sun, 04 Nov 2018 05:08:38 +0000

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s rugby team’s playoff run came to an end on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at the hands of the Guelph Gryphons. 

The Gryphons landed the first blow on the Hawks as they jumped out to a 7-0 early in the first quarter but the Hawks responded quickly and effectively. 

Laurier scored on two consecutive drives and eventually took a 19-14 lead into halftime. 

Things got even better for the purple and gold at the start of the second half, as Darnell Marks scored a huge try off a lineout to extend the Hawks’ lead to 26-14. 

However, things quickly went downhill from there. 

Guelph shut-out the Hawks for the rest of the game, while scoring 20 consecutive points of their own, including two tries in the last four minutes to win by a final score of 34-26. 

It was a valiant effort from the Hawks against one of the best teams in the OUA, but Laurier’s season isn’t quite over yet.

The Hawks will now compete for the OUA bronze medal for the second straight year next weekend.

They will face the winner of the OUA semifinal between Queen’s and the University of Waterloo happening on Sunday. 

Laurier lost to McMaster in the 2017 bronze medal game so they will be hoping to put up a better performance this time around. 

It has been an impressive season for the Hawks so far and despite a tough loss this weekend, they still have a chance at making history by capturing the first medal in modern team history next week. 

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Laurier basketball start their season 1-1 Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:01:28 +0000

Photo by Tanzeel Sayani

Potential comes with questions and the Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team, with a little bit of a newer look this year, are out to prove something. With a 70-63 win over the Western Mustangs, they showed what they’re capable of.

The game started out being all Laurier. From great ball movement to great shooting, to playing great defence, the Golden Hawks could do no wrong, as they put it all together in the form of a 26-15 first quarter.

The second quarter was much of the same as they pushed their lead going into halftime to 16 with the score being 44-28, behind 62.1 per cent shooting from the field and 63.6 percent from three.

“I liked our ball movement offensively, our confidence. If you’re looking at the first half, offensively, was exactly how we draw as far as a game-plan. We did exactly what we wanted to do. I thought our groove was definitely on; I was happy about that, finally getting back into our style of play,” coach Serresse said.

In addition to great offence came great defence as they also forced the Mustangs into playing a lot of iso-ball in addition to the Mustangs being as cold as could possibly be, especially from 3-point land.

“We got lucky on a few breaks, they missed a lot of open shots. The other thing, our defence was great again. For once, it’s in our favours, I just think we can still improve defensively, that’s just the message we had at the end of the game.”

Led by Ali Sow and coach Serresse putting the prowess of the roster available to him, it didn’t seem like anything was changing in the second half. 

Rachel Woodburn, who led the way for Laurier with 15 points and nine rebounds, brought the Hawks within one point with a pair of free throws but Laurier could not capitalize on that as Western was able to finish out with the win behind Debora Kamba who made a key steal with no time to spare.

Contrary to that belief, that’s exactly what happened. Western came out and strapped all the way up on the defensive end, forcing bad turnovers. With guys getting into foul trouble for Laurier, the Mustangs really capitalized with a 19-9 third quarter, bringing the lead down to four at one point and finally hitting a 3-ball after missing about their first 18.

The fourth quarter was a dog fight for both sides. Every time Western got within three or four points, Laurier came back with an answer to push the lead up anywhere from six to nine points. Getting big buckets in big moments is where Laurier found their way into finishing this game out, accompanied by Western’s nightmare-like shooting night. 

The Wilfrid Laurier women’s basketball team were looking to make it two straight wins against the Western Mustangs following a 63-51 win in their season opener against the Brock Badgers to kick off the 2018-2019 season. On this night though, the Mustangs were out to show they were better than the 30-point loss they suffered to Guelph, as they came out with the 68-65 win in overtime against the Hawks.

The game was all Western to start as they swiftly jumped out to a 14-4 lead midway through the first quarter. They pressured Laurier on the defensive end and got the buckets they needed led by Laura Graham and Julia Curran. 

After slightly catching up to make it 20-14 to end the first, the Mustangs got back to business making the score 26-16 halfway through the second quarter. 

“First half, our defence started out not very good. We gave up a lot of points in the first quarter — 20 points, which we haven’t been doing a lot of this year. Offensively, we struggled. They put a little bit of pressure on the ball and we had trouble getting into our offence and I think overall, throughout the game, we turned it over too much. That was probably the biggest problem at the beginning,” coach Falco said.

The second half was as close as could be with plenty of lead changes. Late in the fourth quarter, down 56-53, Julia Curran, not usually a 3-point shooter for Western, hit a 3-ball to tie the game with 10 seconds left and send it to overtime.

“So we had the lead, right down to the end, they made a tough 3-point shot out of a person who’s not usually a big 3-point shooter for them. Obviously if that doesn’t go in, we have a good chance of winning the game.”

Laurier held the lead for much of the overtime period until Curran tied the game on a free throw and then followed by a 3-pointer by Emma Johnson to put Western up 66-63 with 1:38 left. 

Rachel Woodburn, who led the way for Laurier with 15 points and nine rebounds, brought the Hawks within one point with a pair of free throws but Laurier could not capitalize on that as Western was able to finish out with the win behind Debora Kamba who made a key steal with no time to spare.

Next up for the women’s and men’s basketball teams will be back-to-back matchups against the reigning national champions, the Carleton Ravens, and Ottawa Gee-Gees in Ottawa.

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An in depth look at the importance of mental performance training in sports Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:00:03 +0000

Graphic by Kash Patel

Second place. Runner-up. The first loser. Couldn’t quite cut it. Failed when it mattered most. We reserve harsh sentiments for second place, because unless you’re at the top of the mountain, everyone else is looking upward.

However, the modern approach to athletic development is in a state of flux, and mental performance training is a rapidly-expanding field aimed at improving on-field performance. This season, Laurier’s women’s lacrosse team sacrificed one practice per week in favour of mental performance sessions led by Scott Donald and Melissa Pare. Donald is a graduate student in the faculty of Kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University, and former CIS cross-country athlete who captained Saint Francis Xavier’s men’s cross-country team from 2013-2016. 

This combination of varsity success and thesis work lends Donald a unique perspective on sport performance, and when interviewed, I asked him just how these Monday sessions came about: “We presented the idea to the (team) and did one or two sessions (with them) and they decided, ‘hey, this is worth something …’ Maybe they (wanted) to transition out of the Monday practices anyways, but it worked well for them … I think they really enjoyed the time off, and the different sort of training that they truly believed in.”

“That’ll probably be quite easy on my part, I don’t think I’ll have to re-frame any of those girls’ thoughts. I think they’re only taking positives out of their performance this past weekend, they came second in the province and competed against a very good team in the finals, and it was their best finish in a long time.”

Overall the Golden Hawks women’s lacrosse team went 13-3-0, and knocked out Brock (8-4 in the quarterfinals), and Trent (8-7) in the semifinals, before the championship loss to Queen’s. From the outside it appears that the mental performance worked; in 2017 the Golden Hawks were 9-3-1 in the regular season, and 1-2 in the playoffs. However, how can mental performance sessions geared toward motivation, breathing and identification of negative anxiety help a team win more games? When asked this question, Donald replied: “Athletes are human beings, and human beings are thinking all the time about how they feel and about how ready they are, every thought that enters their mind influences the behaviours they have, and to think that sport is predominantly physical is, to me, naive. Everything about training and nutrition, your attitudes and your cognitions essentially lead to how well you’re going to adhere to those other aspects of sport. Your attitude toward eating well is going to impact your nutrition, your attitude toward waking up early and going to the gym will affect your training … The brain is pretty much what’s powering all of the physical (processes) inside of us. I think the mental piece is definitely something that can’t be overlooked…”

It wasn’t, and all season long the Golden Hawks were a premier team in the OUA. But for such competitive athletes, falling one step short of the championship summit must sting. So I asked Donald, after a season of preparing for gold, of sweat and blood and injuries and exhaustion and long road trips and tired feet and sore limbs and straining and believing in this goal as a single, cohesive unit… what do you tell these athletes when they lose?

“That’ll probably be quite easy on my part, I don’t think I’ll have to re-frame any of those girls’ thoughts. I think they’re only taking positives out of their performance this past weekend, they came second in the province and competed against a very good team in the finals, and it was their best finish in a long time.”

Laurier fielded its best women’s lacrosse team in the past eight seasons, and they stood toe-to-toe with Queen’s, ceding victory only after a hard-fought 11-6 battle. 

So Laurier did not bring home gold. But, we have the second-best women’s lacrosse team in Ontario, populated by a roster dedicated to honing its mental performance, and hungry for success in 2019.

But this was 2018. And whether you’re at the top of the mountain a loss is still a loss.

But that’s just not true. These girls aren’t the first losers. These girls are winners.

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