Women’s curling finishes third in Canada

There will be no Golden Hawk three-peat in 2010 for the Wilfrid Laurier women’s curling team at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship, which was held this past weekend in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Hawks capped off a very successful round robin record of 4-1 with an 11-5 loss to the eventual champions, the University of Regina Cougars in the semi-final. The men’s team, meanwhile, finished with a 2-4 record.

“We had high expectations,” said the teams’ head coach, Gary Crossley.

“The competition in the CIS is getting tougher and because we’ve won it two years in a row, we kind of had targets on our backs. Everybody was looking to beat Laurier.”

The women’s team finished the season with an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) silver medal, while the men’s team, which didn’t qualify automatically for the national championship, was sent to Edmonton with the women’s team to represent the school. The theme of the weekend was trying to fill in for absentee players.

On the women’s side, skip Danielle Inglis was trying to establish her own mark on the team after ex-teammate Hollie Nicol graduated last year with two CIS All-Canadian Awards. Inglis had previously played vice.

“[The team] has got a slightly different flavour than it had in the past and it’s still a very competitive and capable group of young ladies,” said Crossley.

Two outstanding achievements earned by the women at the tournament include CIS Second Team All-Canadian individual awards for Inglis and Sarah Wilkes.

“We were confident going into the semifinals [against Regina]. We just came up against a good team with a hot skip who was playing well and we unfortunately let that one slip away a little bit,” explained Crossley.

“They were a strong team,” added Inglis. “They weren’t missing much of anything, so I’m very happy for them. They’ll represent Canada well.”

For the men, Scott McGregor filled in as skip for the absent Matt Mapletoft, who was away at the world junior championship in Switzerland.

“Scott [McGregor] had to step into a position at the start of the season that we didn’t expect him to be in…. I think he stepped up well for us when Matt [Mapletoft] qualified for Switzerland,” said Crossley.

The men’s team’s record is deceiving however, as three of the four losses were by only two points or less.

“Three of the games were lost on the last shot, so [the men] could have easily won five of the six games,” said Crossley. “We viewed this as a valuable learning experience. We discussed how we expected them to do, and they were a very competitive team and had a good showing.”

With all the players on the men’s roster expected to return next year, the team has been set up for success with early, high-level competition experience backing them for an expected successful run for the men’s title next year.

One highlight of the tournament was the revenge on the Waterloo Warriors for their defeat in the OUA championship.

The Hawks defeated Waterloo 9-3 in the round robin after falling to them twice in the provincial playoffs, including the gold-medal game, by 6-5 scores.

“The Waterloo girls are an outstanding team,” said Crossley. “All of the games we’ve played against them were very, very close, except for the one at nationals where I think it’s fair to say Waterloo didn’t bring their A-game, and we played well. It’s always nice to beat your cross-town rival, but they’re a tremendous team as well.”

The women’s team expects to be losing Inglis, Hilary McDermott and Laura Hickey to graduation, but Crossley feels the team is well set-up for next year.

“We’ve done a little bit of recruiting on the girls’ side,” said Crossely. “Hopefully our recruiting turns out to be successful and we’ll be bringing in some very competent players who can fill in the gaps.”