WATERLOO, Ont. (August 28, 2015) - On Saturday, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team gets their 2015 season underway as they host the Algoma Thunderbirds at University Stadium in the first game of a weekend doubleheader.
Heading into their first game of the season, we take a look at how the team is shaping up and what to expect from the purple and gold in 2015.
The Hawks have gone through a lot of turnover from the team that took the field for their bronze medal game against UOIT to the lineup that will take the field against the Thunderbirds on Saturday. Gone by the way of graduation are starting keeper Maggie Carmichael, midfielder Jacqueline Lence, two-time OUA All-Star Julie Maheu and All-Canadian defender Kelsey Tikka. The purple and gold also lost regulars Kiara Reyes and Jessica Craig, leaving them with six bodies to replace through recruiting.
Thanks to the diligent work of head coach BARRY MACLEAN and assistant Niki Budalic, the Hawks have brought in a talented class of rookies, highlighted by forward Gagan Parhar from Surrey, B.C., and keeper Ashley Almeida from Burlington, Ont. Both players have the opportunity to crack the Hawks starting 11, giving them the chance to make an impact for the purple and gold this season.
Also in the offseason, the Hawks began working with the department’s new strength and conditioning coordinator Alena Luciani. That offseason time spent in the gym will undoubtedly pay off for a team that regularly makes deep runs into the postseason.
Despite the loss of some key players from last season, the returning group for Laurier should give hope to fans as the team looks to make another run at the OUA Championship.
Headlining those coming back is fifth year forward Emily Brown of Waterloo, Ont. The CIS scoring leader from a season ago, Brown made the decision in the offseason to return for one last run at a championship. Over her first four seasons in the league, she has scored an incredible 63 times and will once again be one of the top forwards in the country.
Brown and her 21 goals will be joined up front by the offensive prowess of third year Maxine Murchie and second year Nicole Lyon, both of Kitchener, Ont. Murchie and Lyon combined to score an additional 25 goals for the Hawks in 2014 and are more than capable of replicating those numbers once again.
Across the back, three of Laurier’s four starting defenders from a year ago return including 2013 OUA All-Star Sarah Farano of Oakville, Ont., reigning OUA West Rookie of the Year Pauline McCordic of North Vancouver, B.C., and dual sport athlete Jacky Normandeau of Uxbridge, Ont.
As was the case in 2014, it is expected that the Hawks will be battling the Western Mustangs and the York Lions for top spot in the OUA West once again. Last year, those three teams were separated by just two points as they distinguished themselves at the top of the division.
The Hawks have drawn a favourable home schedule in 2015 thanks to their doubleheader against the Algoma Thunderbirds. Of the 16 games that Laurier will play this season, nine will come at University Stadium where Laurier was unbeaten a year ago posting a 5-0-2 record.
The key stretch of games for the purple and gold this season will come at the beginning of October as they will face York twice and Western once in a three-game stretch. Two of those games will be on home turf on October 1 against the Lions and October 4 against the Mustangs.