Hawks remain undefeated
“Critical” is an understatement when referring to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team’s eventful weekend.
In just 24 hours, the squad had managed to play two vital games, forced a 3-3 come back, clenched a 1-0 win against a serious competitor and overcame freezing wind, rain, and “swamp-like” conditions.
“Today’s game was a tough game,” Laurier head coach Barry MacLean pressed when reflecting on Sunday’s close 1-0 victory over the McMaster Marauders. “We played yesterday in a real battle and [today] our players were tired.”
In hindsight, Saturday brought forth a nail-biting game against the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).
The UOIT Ridgebacks, who until this year had never had a women’s soccer team, had pushed the Golden Hawks into a 3-0 deficit until late in the second half.
Clawing their way back, Laurier’s Emily Brown, Krista Cellucci and Sarah Farano managed to find open net and end the game with a remarkable tie.
Farano’s goal was scored during extra time at the end of the game.
With that momentum still fresh in their minds, the Hawks went on to play McMaster on Sunday — a team who was just barely trailing them in the division.
“Very good team we played,” MacLean noted about the Marauder squad. “They are right behind us in the standings and so this was a critical game.”
The game begun a little rocky with the visitors clearly being better-rested and quite determined to surpass the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West leaders.
Laurier had a difficult time executing their shots and passes, only capable of getting three clean opportunities against McMaster netminder Brittany Duffey in the first half.
“Their legs were heavy,” MacLean added. “But I thought it was a very committed attacking performance.”
With a goal called back due to an offside in the first half and a goal post struck in the second, it seemed as though the results of Sunday’s game would mirror that of Saturday’s.
Then, in the 75th minute of play, Laurier rookie Shelby Fallis, scored the lone goal of the game, bringing the Golden Hawks to their concluding score of 1-0.
“We were able to figure out that we needed to communicate more,” Fallis said.
It was the rookie’s third goal of the season.
“We [learned] that we had to put passes behind their defence rather than in front of them and then we were finally able to get it across and in [the net] this time.”
Laurier midfielder Julie Maheu also regarded the improvement of play in the second half.
“We just wanted to keep up the intensity, keep up the pace, keep putting pressure on their goalie, and it paid off in the end.”
“Mac is only a few points behind us,” Maheu said. “It was definitely one of our biggest games so I’m just really happy that we came out with a result [in our favour].”
This weekend’s success keeps the Hawks on top of the west division and on track with their initial post-season goals.
The top three teams who place in the OUA final four go on to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship in Victoria, B.C.
With Queen’s University getting an automatic bye to the tournament because they are defending OUA and CIS champions, this opens up two more Ontario positions.
Currently, the Ottawa Gee-Gees are no.1 in the country, with Laurier ranked fifth, and Queen’s ranked sixth.
Looking to continue their undefeated record this weekend against Waterloo, Laurier will look to exceed the expectations of those who initially wrote off this season as a “rebuilding one”.