HAMILTON (November 2, 2014) - For the first time in five years, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team will not play for a national championship as they lost 2-0 to the UOIT Ridgebacks in the bronze medal match at the OUA Final Four tournament on Sunday morning.
The Hawks, ranked fourth in the country, struggled to generate much in the way of offence during the game, firing just four shots on goal, despite controlling possession for much of the match. On the other side of the ball, sixth-ranked UOIT had seven shots on goal on 13 attempts and were rewarded with two second half goals to come away with the victory.
“I have no idea what to say to them right now,” said head coach BARRY MACLEAN following the loss. “Most of them have spilled all of their guts on the field. Some of them, it’s their last game. It’s a game that I think that we probably could have, and deserved to, win. It’s an unfortunate situation. It’s a tough one to find a ray of light in it.”
In a game in which the winner would advance to the CIS Championship, neither team generated much in the way of quality chances in the opening 45 minutes. The two best chances for Laurier came thanks to the play of second year midfielder Maxine Murchie of Kitchener, Ont. In the fourth minute, Murchie used her speed to beat her defender wide and set up Jacqueline Lence of Mississauga, Ont., in the box but her shot was blocked by a swarm of Ridgeback defenders.
Then, in the 25th minute, Laurier was awarded a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. Murchie would step up to take the shot but it went wide and the two teams would play out the rest of the first half tied at zero.
The second half would see the game start to turn in favour of UOIT. 15 minutes into the second 45, the Ridgebacks nearly opened the scoring as a dangerous ball was played forward. Challenging at the top of the 18-yard box, Hawks keeper Maggie Carmichael of Orono, Ont., did just enough to play the ball away and keep the game scoreless.
However, just six minutes later, the breakthrough for the Ridgebacks would come. A ball played back to fifth year defender Kelsey Tikka of Thunder Bay, Ont., escaped the Hawks captain and Cassandra Sribny of Pickering, Ont., broke in all alone. Carmichael came out to challenge and got a piece of Sribny’s shot but it wasn’t enough and the Ridgebacks grabbed the lead.
From that point forward, the Hawks upped their offensive pressure and nearly tied the game in the 81st minute. Murchie took the ball in the box before turning and firing a shot for the far post but Ridgebacks keeper Melissa Linton of Cobourg, Ont., was there to deny the chance.
As the game went to extra time, UOIT would ice the game. Off a corner kick, Rachel Matthews of Ajax, Ont., got her head on the ball and beat Carmichael, giving UOIT the victory.
The loss represented the last game for at least two players who are in their fifth and final year of eligibility in Tikka and midfielder Julie Maheu of Oakville, Ont. In Tikka, Laurier loses the heart and soul of their defence, a player which MacLean had nothing but high praise for following the match.
“She’s been unbelievable throughout five years,” commented MacLean on the former CIS Rookie of the Year. “I hazard a guess there’s been very few players in the country that have had has big an effect on their program so I’m very disappointed for her.”
Three other Hawks are in their fourth year but still can return for one more season, including forward Emily Brown of Waterloo, Ont., Lence and Carmichael.