Men’s rugby finishes season on high note
It was a case of all or nothing for the Wilfrid Laurier men’s rugby team on Saturday. The Golden Hawks were on the brink of a winless season and had to fend off a feisty Toronto Varsity Blues squad to avoid finishing last in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings.
Laurier achieved this in a big way, as they tasted victory for the first time this season, handing Toronto a punishing 51-0 shutout to end both of their respective seasons.
The Hawks had a hold on the match from the opening kickoff, as forward Jeffery Dinsmore punched home a try within the first two minutes. Laurier mended their woes, winning almost all the scrums and leaving little room for competition from the Varsity Blues.
With try contributions from Jesse Kokurudz, Jeff Pickel and Jason Hatzes, the Hawks paved the way to a 22-0 lead at half.
“Going up that big at half time added comfort, it helped us to finish on a strong note,” Pickel, Laurier’s captain said on the strong opening frame for the Golden Hawks.
The Hawks added to the onslaught with tries from Brenden Gilbert, Tomas Larouche, Alexander Karayannides and two more tries from Pickel amassing to 51 points, the most the Hawks have put up all season long.
Centre Jason Hatzes provided the highlight of the game when he dropped his shoulder into a Blues player, knocking him out of bounds. Hatzes danced around a few more Varsity Blues and capped off the 20-yard run with a phenomenal try.
Pickel also showed some skill, as he finished the game with a season high of three tries in the match.
“We were finally firing at all cylinders, we were working together and clicking,” said assistant coach Andrew Barbati of Saturday’s big win.
“We fought in the trenches all year long, we battled hard, I’m not disappointed with our performance and effort this season.”
“We may have set the bar too high with such a youthful team, so we didn’t reach all our expectations,” said Pickel on the team’s expectations.
Laurier’s young team amounted to a 1-7 record on the season, putting them in eight in the OUA, out of the playoffs.
The Hawks may have wrapped up their season with a disappointing record, but the future appears bright with youthful talent for the club.
“Three of our starting backs were first years, I think it shows things can only go up from here,” said Pickel. “Andrew Thompson, Ryan Cowan, Matt Sneath are just a few of the young talented guys we have coming forward.”
Barbati also commented on the youthful core. “We’ve got a superior crop of youth coming up, guys who are going to carry this club for the next five years”.
However, Barbati added that key departures would hurt next year such as captain Jeff Pickel as he will graduate this upcoming semester.
“We’ll miss our key players, guys like our captain Pickel will be a huge loss for us.”