Four years of growth for Ward

Katrina Ward has won her first-ever OUA athlete of the week. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

Katrina Ward has won her first-ever OUA athlete of the week. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

For a Surrey, B.C. native, Katrina Ward had no problem choosing Wilfrid Laurier University as her school.

“I came from a small school and [small] community feel,” she said. “I never came to visit [Laurier] until I came for tryouts, but it was just really neat and stood out from the ones that I applied to, so I just decided to go with it.”

And the fourth-year health sciences major and women’s soccer goalkeeper saw herself flourish from there. Being part of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship team in her first year in 2010, Ward allowed herself to grow surrounded by experienced players.

“I’d say in first year, I came in with the mentality that I wanted to be the fittest,” Ward laughed. “And then I realized that fitness isn’t necessarily the key aspect for a goaltender. And I had to change my mentality.”

For Ward, mentality is everything. In her second year, she focused more on experience, learning from older players and getting to where she wanted to be as Laurier’s keeper.

But it wasn’t until third year that things really got going for Ward.

“And third year, something clicked. Mentality became the full focus. It didn’t matter if I missed a ball, it was something to learn for the next time,” she said. “It just clicked. It just started working.”

Ward started eight regular-season contests in 2012, finishing with a record of 5-2-1 before heading into the playoffs. In the OUA quarterfinal against the Guelph Gryphons, Ward made 11 saves and allowed only one goal en route to a 5-1 victory and a berth in the OUA Final Four.

From there, Ward was spectacular. The No.6 nationally-ranked Hawks earned an OUA silver medal after defeating the Queen’s Gaels in the semifinal, 1-0. Ward stopped all 12 shots she faced through 120 minutes of action, before coming up big in the six rounds of penalty kicks. She then stopped 17 of 18 shots she faced in a 1-0 extra-time loss to the No.1 Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Fast-forward to 2013, Ward continued to excel in the first few games of the OUA season. While Laurier’s record sits at 2-1-1, Ward has only allowed two goals against her in four contests, and was named OUA athlete of the week following her first two shutouts of the season.

It’s the first time she’s been given the OUA honour.

“Honestly it came as such a surprise,” Ward said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all, but it was such an excitement. Very honoured to have it.”

In her fourth season, Ward mentioned that she has a lot of hopes for both herself and the Hawks.

“I just want us to have a successful year and reach our potential,” she said. “We have so much talent this year. I’d say out of all of the four years, probably some of the most raw talent on the team.”

“I just want to work on the mental stuff,” Ward continued. “I want to focus on the basics. Just go into practice like it’s the biggest game and hopefully that carries through. I grew up so much [at Laurier].”

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