Hawks make OUA semi finals for second straight year

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Photo by Garrison Oosterhof

After a record breaking 2017 season, the Wilfrid Laurier men’s rugby team is looking to take the next step towards excellence here in 2018. 

The Hawks finished the regular season with an overall record 6-2, with their two losses coming against Guelph and Queen’s, arguably the two best teams in Ontario. 

Laurier began their playoff run this past weekend as they took on the McMaster Marauders in the first round of the OUA playoffs.

The Hawks started slow coming out of the gates, trailing the Marauders 13-5 at halftime. It was a difficult situation for the purple and gold, as they didn’t trail on many occasions during the regular season. However, the Hawks were able to flip a switch at halftime and they completely turned the game on its head in the second half. 

“We weren’t used to being behind and some of the guys got a little frustrated because of that and it showed on the field a bit. So we just said let’s take a breath, relax and go and play our game because we’re the better team and if we execute, we’ll win,” head coach Ian McLeod said. 

“The senior guys came in and said ‘There’s no way this is going to be our last game’, and they took over from there.”

The veterans put on a show in the second half for Laurier. Led by captain Andrew Quattrin and team leading scorer Matt Fish, the Hawks put on an offensive showcase, scoring 26 points en route to a massive 31-13 victory. 

This now marks the second consecutive year that the Hawks have the made the final four of the OUA playoffs. The Golden Hawks won their first playoff game in modern team history last year and they have continued to build momentum since that historic victory. 

The Hawks are definite underdogs going into this game against the Gryphons and this fixture is going to be the Hawks’ toughest test of the season so far.

Coach McLeod mentioned the importance of last year’s success and how much of a confidence boost the 2017 season was for the Hawks. 

“We slayed some dragons last year. We beat McMaster and Western and we hadn’t done that before. That gave the guys confidence going forward. We played a decent game in the semi-final last year against Queen’s too. We realized we could compete with those guys,” he said.  

“But I do believe there is a mental hurdle there that you still need to clear and I think the boys realize that and they’re ready to do that [this weekend against Guelph].”

The Hawks will now face a familiar foe, the Guelph Gryphons, in the OUA semi-finals. These two teams faced off in the last game of the regular season on Oct. 20 at University Stadium, with the Gryphons coming out on top with a huge 41-10 win. 

It will arguably be an even tougher game for the Hawks this time around, considering the fact that the semi-final will be played in Guelph. One of the biggest reasons behind that 41-10 loss against Guelph was the missing presence of Andrew Quattrin. 

“Number one we were missing a key cog in our wheel and that was Andrew Quattrin, our captain. He’s the straw that stirs this machine. It’s tougher on the other guys to execute without him. Everybody plays a little bigger and a little braver when he’s on the field,” coach McLeod said.  

“The loss against Guelph wasn’t caused by anything in particular that they did. We gave them opportunities that we usually don’t do. We made some silly mistakes and some bad tackling, bad decision making,” he added. 

The Hawks are definite underdogs going into this game against the Gryphons and this fixture is going to be the Hawks’ toughest test of the season so far. 

The semi-final is set for kickoff at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Varsity Field in Guelph.

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