For a team comprised of 13 rookies, the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s lacrosse team finished higher than expected at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships held in Oshawa from Oct. 23-25.
The Hawks placed fourth, improving on their fifth-place result last year. After winning their first game against the second-place Toronto Varsity Blues 7-6, the Hawks dropped the next two games 12-7 and 10-8 respectively against the Western Mustangs and the Queen’s Gaels.
“[It’s] very positive,” head coach Lynn Orth said. “Last year we didn’t execute game plans as we wanted to and ended up finishing lower than we should have. This year we executed game plans as we wanted to and finished above expectations.”
The Hawks were able to hold their own against the dominant Mustangs, limiting them to the lowest amount of goals Western scored during the entire tournament despite the loss. Their second game against Queen’s was played without their two top goal-scorers Torey Barfoot and rookie Taylor Miller. Even though Laurier came out on the losing end of the affair, they still held Queen’s to 10 goals while putting up eight of their own to keep the game close.
“Had we had those two players, who knows what the outcome would have been,” Orth said. “It was a good performance, and I can’t say enough about our defence.”
Orth gave a tremendous amount of credit to the Hawks’ defence — over the course of the weekend Western scored 15 goals on both Brock and Trent to capture the OUA championship weekend for the fifth straight year, yet the Mustangs could only muster 12 against Laurier.
“It’s very hard to quantify a defence other than goals against and win or lose,” she said. “That’s the only way to quantify — we can’t say this person stopped that person 20 times and this person stopped that person 20 times. You can say this person scored 38 goals in a season and this person scored five points in a game.”
One of the biggest storylines following the Laurier women’s lacrosse team is the amount of rookies they put onto the field. The Hawks sported 13 new rookies while other schools had small rookie classes, only playing around two rookies on the field, said Orth.
Not only were the rookies able to adapt to OUA play, their development over the season also sped up.
“You can barely measure [their growth] because they are practicing every day and playing every weekend. They get probably three years [of] growth in a season,” Orth said. “They just develop so quickly because they got people to help them, they have people to support them.”
“Because you are doing that every day you just develop very quickly.”
The championship weekend marks the end of a season that yielded mixed results for the Hawks. In a sport that Laurier has been particularly dominant in considering they have finished in the top five since 2011, the finish was promising for the young Laurier squad. Classified as a rebuilding year, Orth believes the Hawks can only get better next year.
“Next year we’re going to be stronger. We don’t lose that much and we have some people who can step in which is great and I’ll do some recruiting,” she explained. “I think we’ll definitely be top four next year and hopefully a little higher than that.”