Fall 2017: Laurier Sports Review
The Wilfrid Laurier University football team couldn’t quite repeat last year’s success, as they ended up falling in the Yates Cup against Western. Although it was an unfortunate end to a great season, one couldn’t have expected much more from the Hawks. The Western Mustangs were simply the best team in the OUA this year and they even went on to win the Vanier Cup. It was still a very successful year for the Hawks, highlighted by great seasons from Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Michael Knevel and Godfrey Onyeka, among others.
It was an impressive season for the baseball team as they earned an OUA silver medal after losing to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the OUA final. The Hawks made some major adjustments and performed at a higher level than last year, when they lost in the OUA semifinals to the Waterloo Warriors. Led by an outstanding pitching staff, coach Ballantyne and his team seemed to pull out all the stops when they needed them the most. All the Hawks lacked was a few big plays in the OUA Final and if they managed to make those clutch plays, this season could have been even better.
Women’s Soccer A-
A loss in the OUA quarter finals capped off what was an admirable season for the women’s soccer team. After getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in 2016, the Hawks were hungry to go even further this year and that’s exactly what they achieved. With some great wins such as a 7-0 victory against Algoma, a 4-1 win against McMaster and great performances throughout the year from Maxine Murchie and Nicole Lyon, the Hawks were one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the OUA. Although this was Murchie’s last year with the team, the Hawks have more than enough talent to still stay competitive, as most of the roster hasn’t even reached their fourth eligible year.
Men’s Soccer C+
After making the OUA playoffs in 2016, the Hawks couldn’t repeat their success as they failed to reach the post-season in 2017. A disappointing year ended for the Hawks with an overall record of 4-7-5. One of the bright spots for Laurier was the play of defender Tahrik Rodriques, who was recognized as an OUA All-Star at the end of the season. Although the expectations were higher for the Hawks, some regression from 2016 was expected due to the large amount of rookies on the team. There were some growing pains throughout the year and that’s often the case when a roster sees as much turnover as the Hawks did this season. As the Hawks continue to build their team chemistry and as they continue to become familiar with each other’s style of play, expect a bounce back season in 2018.
Women’s Rugby B
The women’s rugby team finished the regular season with a 2-2 record, improving on their 1-4 record from last year. The Hawks made the OUA consolation playoffs, eventually losing to the Brock Badgers in the semi-final. Laurier increased their level of play under new head coach Brian Quistberg and the team seems to be taking all the steps required to become a playoff team year in, year out. With the increasing awareness of women’s rugby in Canada, expect the Hawks to add some quality recruits in the off season and compete at even higher level next year.
Men’s Rugby A+
Calling the men’s rugby season historical would be an understatement. The Hawks finished with a 5-3 record in the regular season, a three-win improvement over their 2-6 record last year. Their record was good enough to get them into the OUA playoffs where they exceeded all expectations by defeating the Western Mustangs in the quarter finals. The win was one for the record books as Laurier recorded their first playoff win since 1999. The Hawks couldn’t continue their great run however, as they ran into Queen’s in the semi-final, undoubtedly the best team in the OUA this season. The Hawks then ended up losing in the bronze medal game to McMaster by a final score of 19-26. Despite an unfortunate end, the season was a huge success for the Hawks.
It was a repeat of 2016 for the women’s lacrosse team as they once again made the OUA playoffs. After beating Trent University in the first round, the Hawks lost to Queen’s in the semi-final. Unlike last year however, Laurier was unable to win the bronze medal game as the Hawks ended up falling against U of T by a final score 12-8. Defender Emily Ferguson was named a part of the OUA all-star first team for her stellar performances throughout the season. The semi-final was a hard fought battle and even though the Hawks didn’t do as well as they would’ve liked, there were still lots of positives to take away from the season.
Cross Country B+
Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams had solid years and both managed to finish inside the top 10 rankings at the OUA championships. Joe Sheridan led the way for the men’s team at the OUA championships as he established a new career high on his way to a 25th place individual finish. At the U sports championships, both the teams’ performances dipped as the men’s team finish 16th, while the women’s team finished 18th. Bettina Boucher capped off a phenomenal year with a 22nd place finish at the Nationals, leading the way for the Hawks.