Hawks beat the odds to win tenth OUA championship

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A tenth OUA championship victory was anything but easy for the Wilfrid Laurier women’s curling team.

The Golden Hawks overcame the Queen’s Gaels in the finals by a score of 5-3 to take home their sixth OUA title in the last eight years.

But you can argue that the Hawks’ biggest challenge came before they even got to the final.

Laurier had to beat Laurentian, the defending U-Sports champions who many considered the favourites for the tournament, in the quarterfinals.

“We knew that Laurentian were the favourites. Even outside of university curling, that whole team has been a dominant force in a lot of events that we’ve played them in over the last few years,” Laurier’s skipper, Kaitlin Jewer, said.

“So I think we knew going into the game it was going to be a difficult game to win. We were going to have to force them to make a lot of difficult shots to win it.”

Jewer also noted the energy that the team has possessed as they worked their way through the post-season.

“I think we were all just really excited to be in the playoffs and wanted to make sure that we all represented Laurier very well. We had this do or die mentality and we seemed to really thrive on it … it all seemed to come together, which was really nice,” she added.

The quarterfinal matchup against the Voyageurs was a thriller and the Hawks needed every big shot they could get.

With the Hawks down 5-3 in the eighth end, Jewer delivered a runback with her final shot which tied the score at 5-5 and allowed Laurier to win in the ninth end.

Jewer made clutch shot after clutch shot throughout the tournament and it was no surprise to see her come through when the Hawks needed her the most.

The Ajax native mentioned the importance of her teammates and how they made her job easier.

“The three other athletes on the team all played a really big role,” she said.

If the Hawks stick to their game plan and perform in the clutch like they have been doing this season, then all the fans can expect a successful U-Sports championship campaign in March.

“I’ve been the skip pretty much my entire career in curling so I’m used to playing that pressure shot against a couple, or for a couple, and have always thrived under pressure of the clutch moments. But the girls on the team all held their own really well in pressure situations as well which made my job easier,” she added.

“As a team, the mentality that we had going into all the games really helped all of us execute well. I was able to play so well because, as a team, I knew that we were right where we wanted to be, where we needed to be.”

Things didn’t get easier for the Hawks after the quarter final, however, as their next challenge was Lakehead, the U-Sports silver medalists from 2017. The Thunderwolves presented as much of a challenge as the Voyageurs, but the Hawks were ready for a battle.

“The semi-final win was one of the biggest wins of the whole week. We had a really rough game against Lakehead in the round-robin. We knew going into the semifinals we really wanted to prove it to ourselves and prove to everyone there that we were a good team,” Jewer said.

“Both the Laurentian and Lakehead games were well fought and we made a lot of clutch shots … we were able to rally together as a team.”

The momentum gained from the two games prior to the finals gave the Hawks all the confidence they needed to defeat the Gaels and add another OUA championship to their collection.

With a very impressive OUA title run, the expectations for Laurier going forward are only going to be higher.

The U-Sports National Championships begin next month, and if the Hawks want to be successful, they’ll have to find a way to be even better than they were in the OUA championships.

“We just need to not get too caught up in the whole national experience. We want to make sure that we play well and we stick to our game and not get caught up in everything going on around us,” Jewer said.

“We should enjoy the experience but not let it get to our heads too much. If we can do that then we should be able to have a really strong showing.”

On their day, this team can compete with anyone.

If the Hawks stick to their game plan and perform in the clutch like they have been doing this season, then all the fans can expect a successful U-Sports championship campaign in March.

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