New-look soccer Hawks forge ahead

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team will enter their upcoming season on a relatively high note in spite of going 1-2 in the preseason. The former Ontario University Athletics (OUA) silver medalists defeated the University of Saskatchewan Huskies by a score of 2-0 in their final preseason game at Alumni field Aug. 25.

The two preceding matches against Grand Valley State and the University of Toronto however, both ended in losses. Entering what could be a rebuilding year, the Hawks look forward to the nearing season and are optimistic despite having lost a number of talented players last spring due to graduation.

“It’s obviously going to be a big task for the new players to come in and replace the ones we lost,” said Laurier assistant coach Niki Budalic. “We lost a lot of fifth-year starters who have been around a long time and have had a lot of success so it’ll take some time to get this group up to speed. I think the potential is there.”

The team has been left in trusting hands however, as Laurier veterans Kelsey Tikka, Kelsey Abbott and Jess Carter have been named the captains of the 2012 squad. The three captains have full intentions on leading the purple and gold down the same successful path that they had voyaged along one year ago.

“They’re the ones that are going to be leading this group and making sure the new girls know not only the level of expectation, [but also] getting them organized and [aware of] the demands they need to reach,” Budalic said.“You have to look forward, move forward, and try to rebuild and reestablish the level that we were at [last season].”

Last season, the purple and gold finished at the top of their division with a record of 12-2-0. However, in the post-season, the squad fell to OUA rivals the Queen’s Gaels 1-0 in overtime in a championship thriller, awarding the team silver in the province. Later, the Hawks experienced a disappointing tournament at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) finals, losing both their quarterfinal and consolation games.

But that was last year.

Midfielder Krista Cellucci, noted the incoming talent that will make the 2012 edition of the Hawks a force to consider.

“We have a lot of recruits [and] I think they’ll bring a lot more to our team,” she said. “All of us are going into this year hoping to win OUAs and making it to the finals and then eventually the CIS final.”

With a new clean slate, the soccer Hawks are heading into the season with only one thing on their minds: gold.

“That’s our goal this year, and it’s been [our goal] every year”, Cellucci emphasized.  “And there’s no reason why we can’t make that goal.”

–With files from Shelby Blackley

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