Hawks lose gold
For the first time since 2002, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks’ women’s lacrosse team ended their season with something other than a gold medal. On Sunday, the Hawks lost 9-5 to the Western Mustangs in the Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) finals at McMaster’s Alumni Field, earning them the silver medal.
The Hawks came into the final four weekend ranked fourth and had to take on the first-ranked University of Toronto Varsity Blues in their semi-final game on Saturday. The purple and gold upset the powerhouse Blues, who had beaten the Hawks 12-4 and 10-5 in the regular season, which earned them the right to play in the championship game.
“That’s what we had prepared for, to try and beat Toronto. But in the end, we achieved beyond our seeding and it was really a pleasant surprise to get the silver,” said head coach Lynn Orth.
“That was like the championship game for a young team like us.”
As Orth alluded to, this year’s edition of the team was far different than the squads that went undefeated for 29 games over three years and won six straight championships. This year’s Hawks were much more inexperienced than the teams of years past, as the program graduated a number of key veteran leaders from a year ago.
The team’s inexperience showed over the course of the regular season as the Hawks battled their way to a 7-5 record, making the playoffs as the number four seed. Through the growing pains, the team was constantly improving, something that showed in the post-season.
“We’re a very young team that improved immensely over the season and we still have a lot of room to improve,” said Orth. “I was very encouraged by the results.”
With so many first and second-years getting significant playing time this year, Orth is very optimistic about the future of the program.
“We have a lot of first and second years and you really don’t come into your own until third year,” she said.
“Next year when those second-years move into third year, they’ll be a lot more confident. … I know we’ll be a contender next year.”
The Hawks will lose three starters next year in defender Vanessa Lublin and midfielders Laura Juha and Kristen Sarson.
But they have three provincial all-stars returning in Hanna Burnett, Emma Pink and Braedyn O’Rahilly. O’Rahilly, who finished second in the OUA in scoring with 60 points, will be particularly important.
“We’re very excited to have her back,” said Orth of O’Rahilly. “She’s a very talented player and she’ll be an important leader next year.”