Hawks finish 0-2 at nationals
Just a week after a stunning win in double overtime against the Carlton Ravens in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze medal game, the Wilfrid Laurier Women’s Basketball team gave their veteran players a couple more games in a Hawk uniform.
But Laurier couldn’t overcome the powerhouse Windsor Lancers at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships and fell 81-53 in the quarterfinal. They were then defeated by the McGill Martlets in the consolation semi-final 58-51, ending a season filled with injuries and close games.
The game against McGill was slightly disappointing for the team, who shot only 27 per cent from the field. They were able to make it close in the fourth quarter, but could not hit the shots they needed to tie it up.
However, the Hawks can very easily choose to look at this year as an exceptional battle through adversity, rather than focusing on the end losses in Windsor.
“The rest of us rose to the challenge, the injured players supported us from the bench and the rest of us just rose together and believed in each other,” said fourth-year graduate Laura Doyle.
At the beginning of the 2013-14 season, there were a number of teams in Ontario that were contending for the OUA banner, and Laurier was one of them. However, a number of veteran players including Whitney Ellenor, Doreen Bonsu and Kimberly Yeldon fell to injury early in the fall, and the expectations of the team fell slightly.
And then Laurier had a chance to make nationals when they played Carleton for bronze.
“I think a lot of teams sort of ruled us out of that mix in terms of being able to compete for that spot at nationals,” Laurier’s head coach, Paul Falco said.
“People underestimated us this year, we did as well as we could. I think we just wanted to keep proving people wrong and keep playing,” Doyle added.
The Hawks were anchored by exceptional play from their younger players and a full team effort every night. As Falco explained, the team banding together during those injury periods was the biggest takeaway from this year.
“I think the biggest positive has got to be the contribution of the team as a whole. We really didn’t have one or two players that were carrying us all year; it was the whole group that carried us,” he said.
Falco also emphasized the impact of the fourth-year players leaving the team next year. He explained that the impact of Doyle, Bonsu, Yeldon and Bree Chaput, goes far beyond their play on the court.
“We are losing a lot. They have done a lot in the community, academically and athletically, and have just been a real well-rounded group and great team people,” he said.
All four of the departing players started with the team together, and Doyle was able to look back not just on this season, but on their time together at Laurier.
“It’s been unreal. We’ve grown so much together. Falco has made our team like a family, and he has been an inspiration for us. I know they’ll be lifelong friends for me. I couldn’t imagine life without them now … I couldn’t imagine university without basketball,” she said.
Even though a lot of talent is leaving the team, Falco is optimistic about the upcoming year.
“It is a little too early to say what our goals for next year are, but obviously we have set the bar pretty high this year and are looking to maintain that pace,” he said.