Laurier moves to third in country

(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta)

It seems like déjà vu.

As this time last year, the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s soccer team was sitting undefeated with six games left in their season.

Fast-forward to the 2012-13 season, and the Hawks are in the same position as last year— undefeated with six games remaining in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regular season.

After a strong performance Sunday afternoon that featured strikers Emily Brown and Krista Cellucci each tallying a pair of goals in a 4-1 defeat over the UOIT Ridgebacks, Laurier currently sits at the top of the OUA West division.

“I thought we played very well,” head coach Barry MacLean said after Sunday’s victory. “We controlled the game from front to back, created a lot of chances. I thought it was a very good performance.”

The Hawks now sit with a record of 8-0-2, which is second overall in the OUA. Mirroring last year, Laurier hopes to find the depth in places crucial for a high playoff note.

Second-year striker Brown currently leads the OUA in goals, while Cellucci sits seventh overall.

Goalkeeper Katrina Ward started her second game in a row after alternative Maggie Carmichael had started the last eight.

But MacLean says that despite the playing time, the goaltender position has not been solidified.

“That’s not necessarily my backup,” he said of Ward. “[She’s] played the last two games and she’s earned that based on performance not on just getting the game.

“I’m not going to call her my backup. Right now it’s up in the air for who’s going to play, but she’s done very, very well.”

MacLean also commented on the chemistry that his team has generated in such a short time.

“I thought our overall team passing all over the field was good,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of chemistry starting to go.”

With six games to go, the Hawks hope not to repeat last year’s falter, where they lost two consecutive matches late in the season to diminish their undefeated record.

Currently No. 3 in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) top 10, Laurier is in tight with provincial foes the Ottawa Gee-Gees — the OUA’s only other undefeated team — and the Queen’s Gaels, who sit first and sixth respectively.

Their losses last year started a fall in their CIS standing and seemingly the morale within the team, leading to an overtime loss to the Gaels in the OUA finals and two losses at the CIS national championship.

But MacLean believes right now the team is in a good place.

“We’re good,” he said. “We haven’t lost yet, but we’ve got to keep giving good performances and results are important as well.”

But improvement is always needed.

“We need to get some performances like today. More of those. If we do that, I think we’ll be going into the playoffs with a high note.”

The Hawks will battle the Brock Badgers Wednesday afternoon in St. Catharines before travelling to McMaster to face the Marauders Friday.

Laurier  finishes their season with four consecutive home games against Western, Windsor, Guelph and York.

As they head for the regular season’s final stretch, the Hawks have a six-point cushion atop the division, leading the second-place Western Mustangs 26 points to 20.

McMaster and York sit tied for third at 17 points each.

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