Women’s soccer tops division
Silencing those who claimed their season to be a rebuilding one, the Wilfrid Laurier women’s soccer team are not only surpassing expectations, but are also rewriting them.
Last weekend, the purple and gold finished off their Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regular season with a 1-1 tie against Guelph Gryphons and a 1-0 win over the York Lions.
The weekend’s results bring the Hawks to a record of 11-2-3, earning them first seed in the OUA West division going into the playoffs.
“We’re guaranteed top place,” said head coach Barry McLean after Sunday’s victory over the Lions. “We [now] have a home field advantage through the quarterfinals and it sets us up well if we win that game to play the second seed on the other side.”
The Hawks get an automatic bye to the quarterfinals and will play their first post-season game next Sunday at home at 1 p.m. Laurier’s first opponent is yet to be determined, but it’ll be the lowest seed of the remaining teams.
“I think it’s an achievement just to get there,” said Laurier striker Emily Brown. “There’s a lot of pressure [now] on us.”
Last year, the Golden Hawks hosted the OUA Final Four, losing to Queen’s in the championship game in a heartbreaking 1-0, falling 5-3 in penalty kicks after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer.
Now, for the third-straight year, the Hawks have another chance to claim back their throne.
“Hopefully we’ll get players back from injuries,” McLean said about the upcoming playoff run. “We’ve been decimated with injuries.”
In the absence of major players, Brown has assumed a key leadership role on the squad. Brown closed out the season with 15 goals— the most in the OUA.
Brown would also be the only goal scorer in Sunday’s match. She capitalized on a fumble from York’s Sarah Fiorini and ended what could have been another tie.
“They came out fighting,” Brown said, considering York’s intensity. “But we handled them accordingly and got the win we needed.”
York currently stands third in the OUA West, six points behind the first-place Hawks. Western captured second place and the second bye in the OUA West.
Preparing for their post-season, Laurier will be training all week and begin planning for their first playoff competitor.
In the OUA East division stands the undefeated Ottawa Gee-Gees as well as the second place Queen’s Gaels, who have 44 and 36 points respectively.
Ottawa has been ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) top ten list for the past four weeks and has yet to be conquered.
However, as history so often tells us, the playoffs can be quite unforgiving.
Now entering a position almost identical to the 2011 season, the Hawks appear to be a huge contender for the post-season.