Soccer Hawks strike OUA gold

KINGSTON, Ont. — Over the weekend, everything continued to go exactly as planned for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team.

With a 1-0 win over the Queen’s Gaels in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals on Sunday afternoon, the Hawks followed their 11-1-2 regular season by claiming the provincial title.

This marks the second OUA championship in three years for the purple and gold and the seventh in the team’s history.

“Throughout the year we built up to this point and we gave everything we had today,” said midfielder Alyssa Lagonia. “I’m so proud of every girl that was out there on the field today, we all gave it our all and it was definitely our best game of the season.”

After downing the Ottawa Gee-Gees 2-1 in Saturday’s provincial semi-final, the Hawks were put in prime position to exact some revenge on the host Gaels on Sunday.

Last year, Laurier cruised through the regular season in a very similar fashion to this campaign, posting a 9-3-2 record.

However, in the OUA semi-finals the Gaels would provide an abrupt ending to the Hawks’ season, beating them 3-2 in extra time, barring the defending OUA champs from nationals.

This time around, the Hawks came into the provincial final as an underdog of sorts, with the Gaels being ranked number one in the nation.

“We watched [Queen’s] succeed in their division all year and we knew we would probably be seeing them in the finals,” said forward Ali McKee of the re-match with the Gaels.

“It feels a million times better to beat them this time around.”

After trading chances, with Laurier getting the better of possession for the majority of the game, McKee would break the deadlock in the 78th minute.

The fourth-year headed a corner kick just under the bar and into the Gaels’ net to give the Hawks the game-winner and some vindication, sending Queen’s off their home field with silver medals.

“It’s not so much about the revenge, I thought they’re an excellent team and we knew we were in for a tough game,” said head coach Barry MacLean of beating Queen’s. “We’ve got a lot of respect for them and winning the provincial championship against such a good team is a huge accomplishment.”

For Lagonia, whose corner set up the Hawks’ championship winning goal, this was the first chance she had to celebrate a championship with her Laurier teammates. The fourth-year has been on the team since 2007, however her duties with Canada’s national team forced her to miss the Hawks’ provincial title in 2008.

An elated Lagonia explained how much winning a title in purple and gold meant to her after the game.

“I’m just on top of the world right now,” she said. “I’ve missed a lot and to be here finally celebrating and sharing a title with this team means so much.

These girls mean so much to me and I’m so happy I could be here with them.”

Having conquered Ontario, the Hawks now set their sights on this weekend’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) finals, hosted by the University of Prince Edward Island. Two years ago was the last time the team appeared at nationals and came away as consolation champions.

“Having an OUA gold under our belts just makes us so much more pumped heading into nationals,” said OUA west MVP, Tania Pedron. “We’re looking to prove that we’re not just the best team in Ontario but the best in Canada.”

The purple and gold will open their CIS finals with a game against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds this Thursday.

“We really wanted to come into nationals in first place [in Ontario] and that goal’s been accomplished,” said Lagonia. “Going into the tournament in first, other teams are definitely going to be looking out for us but I know we’re going to be ready.”

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