Hawks falter in CIS final

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Now that was the definition of a heartbreaker.

After outplaying the Queen’s Gaels for 90 minutes of regulation time and 15 minutes of extra time, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team had their hopes of a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship dashed with one perfectly placed shot.

“I’m really disappointed for the girls,” said Hawks’ head coach Barry MacLean after Saturday’s national championship game. “I thought they deserved a better fate, I thought we were the better team on the day. We fell a little bit short at the end, but that’s just the way it goes, one goal wins the game.”

It was just two minutes into the second half of extra time when Gaels’ midfielder Riley Filion stepped into a strike from just outside the Hawks’ 18-yard box. The sinking shot managed to find its way into the tiny space between the crossbar and Laurier goalkeeper Mal Woeller’s outstretched hands and put the Hawks down 1-0, a lead that would hold up through the remainder of the game.

“We outplayed that team, we put our whole effort into the game and we gave it everything we had,” said midfielder Alyssa Lagonia. “Unfortunately things didn’t go our way.”

The Hawks opened the CIS championship tournament last Thursday as the top seed from Ontario, having beaten Queen’s in the provincial final exactly a week prior to the national title game. The purple and gold took their first game 1-0 over the University of British Columbia and followed it with a 2-0 extra time win over the Montreal Carabins to set up the all-Ontario final.

In the championship game, the Hawks controlled the play and had the majority of the scoring chances, despite key players such as midfielder Tania Pedron and defender Kelsey Tikka battling injuries.

But in the end, they just couldn’t find a goal and the one Queen’s marker was enough to take the CIS title.

“I think it’s incredible how they performed based on the fact that a lot of them are struggling with injuries,” said MacLean. “It was a fantastic performance.”

The strong performance Laurier put forth throughout the competition was recognized as the Hawks dominated the tournament all-star team, taking up five of the 11 spots. Woeller, Tikka, Pedron, Lagonia and defender Nicole Currie were all named all-stars; however, according to Lagonia that didn’t make the post-game ceremony easier to bear.

“It was really difficult to watch Queen’s get the gold medals,” she said. “It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to deal with but I’m so proud of all my teammates.”

Tikka was also named tournament MVP, after already winning Ontario University Athletics (OUA) west division and CIS rookie of the year to go along with being named a provincial all-star.

The CIS silver medal marks the best finish for the Hawks since 1995 and brings an end to a season that, in MacLean’s eyes, was special.

“I don’t think we could’ve asked for anything more from our players,” he said. “This was probably the best women’s soccer team that’s ever played at Laurier.”

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