Getting to know your Hawks
The women’s hockey team has enjoyed incredible success in recent years. Led by head coach Rick Osborne, winner of five consecutive Ontario University Athletics (OUA) coach of the year awards, the Hawks have won six straight OUA championships. They have gone to the gold medal game of the National Championship four out of the past five years, winning it in 2005. This powerhouse team only lost one regular season game last year and, despite a large turnover, it is still stocked with talented players such as two time all-star goalie Liz Knox, three time all-star forward Andrea Ironside and 2008 all-rookie team member Abby Rainsberry, just to name a few.
2008-09 saw the men’s hockey team put forth an impressive 22-5-1 season, finishing first in the OUA far-west division, eventually losing to the Western Mustangs in the conference semi-final. Although they haven’t won a provincial title since 1990, the Hawks are consistently among the top teams in the OUA, most recently going to Nationals in 2007 as provincial finalists. This season, the team is losing three of its top five scorers from a year ago and will need big seasons from players like Craig Voakes, Jean-Michel Rizk – last year’s OUA leading scorer – and a new transfer from Royal Military College, Paul Bradley, to remain competitive.
After playing a massive role in saving the Laurier pool from being closed down, the Golden Hawks swim team will be looking to produce more performances like the ones they’ve been getting from fourth-year Whitney Rich. Rich, a two time OUA all-star, was absolutely dominant last year, with 16 first place finishes, including four gold medals at the provincial championship.
The men’s baseball team had a shaky season last year, finishing with a 7-11 record, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Despite the disappointing season, a number of Hawks achieved individual success in 2008. Pitcher Dave Canavan pitched the first no-hitter in school history, while third baseman Ryan Panas won OUA rookie of the year and was named an OUA first team all-star along with teammates Scott Mahn and Chris Pittaway.
Always among the contenders in the OUA, the Golden Hawks’ men’s football team posted a 6-2 record in 2008 and made it to the provincial semi-finals, where they were eliminated by Western. Behind the leadership of Laurier icon, head coach and manager of football operations Gary Jeffries and his staff, the Hawks should be a force in the OUA this season. Young sensations such as quarterback Luke Thompson and wide receiver Shamawd Chambers made significant contributions last year and now return with that experience. The leadership and skill of returning veterans such as 2008 OUA all-star linebacker Giancarlo Rapanaro and two time OUA all-star cornerback Taurean Allen will compliment the young talent, as the Hawks look to re-capture the glory of their 2005 Vanier Cup victory.
After struggling for a few years, the women’s basketball team took a step forward last year, making it to the OUA west semi-final in head coach Paul Falco’s first season behind the bench. Rookie Amber Hillis emerged as an elite point guard, while veteran Renata Adamczyk had a stellar season and was named OUA defensive player of the year and second team all-star. With both players returning and a talented, quickly developing roster, these Hawks are definitely a team on the rise in 2009-10.
The 2008-09 season was something of a disappointment for the men’s basketball team. They finished 9-13, squeaking into the playoffs only to get eliminated in the first post-season game for the third year in a row. However, there were some positives to the year, including the terrific season of rookie point guard Travis Berry and the continued dominance of former rookie of the year Kale Harrison. Both return this season and look to take the team deeper into the playoffs.
The lady Hawks shocked just about everyone last season when the young team upset the Ottawa Gee Gees in penalty kicks to win OUA gold. They went on to nationals, the first time Laurier had been to the tournament since 1999, and won the consolation final, again defeating the Gee Gees. With the majority of the team coming back, as well as the return of Canadian National Team member Alyssa Lagonia who missed last season, Laurier should be one of the OUA’s teams to beat.
Almost mirroring their female counterparts, the men’s soccer team surprised most, by winning the school’s fourth provincial championship. 2008 OUA coach of the year Mario Halapir has a large amount of returning players and the Hawks look primed to make a run at defending their OUA title.
The Golden Hawks’ women’s lacrosse team is the most under-rated varsity team at Laurier. They’ve won six consecutive OUA championships, and haven’t lost a game since October of 2006. Last season, the Hawks went 12-0 for their second straight perfect season and with an experienced roster, they are in position to dominate once again under head coach Lynn Orth.
The women’s volleyball team has had a tough few years since coming away with an OUA silver medal in 2005 and a bronze in the following season. They haven’t won a post-season game in three years; last year, missing the playoffs altogether for the first time since 2000. With a large portion of the team entering their fourth or fifth year in 2009, the veteran team looks poised to bounce back from a mediocre 8-11 2008-09 season.
Led by OUA rookie of the year Samuel Schachter and OUA first-team all-star Cameron Wheelan, the men’s volleyball Hawks were a surprise last season. They finished 11-9 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Although they were eliminated in the opening round of the post-season by the Guelph Gryphons, 2008-09 marked a big step forward for the team, which consisted of mostly young players. With almost no turnover from last year’s roster and a solid year of experience, the 2009-10 Hawks have a good chance to turn some heads this season.
While they may not be the most popular sports team around campus, the Laurier women’s curling team is definitely one of the university’s most successful, especially in recent years. Last season saw the team not only win their second straight National Championship, but also represent Canada at the 2009 Universiade (an equivalent of the Olympics for student athletes), winning the silver medal. The Hawks will be looking to continue their streak of national championships this season, although it may be a tall order with the graduation of skip Hollie Nicol.
The men’s curling team has also enjoyed success in the past few seasons. They won the OUA championship in 2005-06 and took home both the provincial and national title in 2007-08. After a young team won the provincial silver medal last year, they should be back competing for the top spot in the coming season.