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Julie Karn will be a key contributor in the midfield for the purple and gold this season (Photo Credit: Kha Vo)
Julie Karn will be a key contributor in the midfield for the purple and gold this season (Photo Credit: Kha Vo)
PREVIEW: WSOCC opens 2016 vs Guelph
Heading into their first game of the season this Saturday, August 27, against the Guelph Gryphons, we take a look at how the team is shaping up and what to expect from the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's soccer team in 2016. 

OFFSEASON
Coming out of convocation ceremonies, the Hawks have been forced to say goodbye to many key players that made up not only the foundation of previous seasons, but veterans who helped the Hawks reach the CIS Nationals in Vancouver, B.C. Most prominent of these players, all of whom spent their entire undergraduate career in a purple and gold jersey, is forward, captain and multi-time CIS All-Canadian and OUA All-Star Emily Brown (Waterloo, Ont.). In the midfield, the Hawks lose CIS Academic All-Canadians Meena Sharif (Pickering, Ont.) and Suzanne Boroumand (Kitchener, Ont.) as well as defenders Shannon Fraser (Toronto) and Sarah Farano (Oakville, Ont.). 

To compensate for the loss of these star players, head coach BARRY MACLEAN has completely refreshed the team and has recruited 17 promising new rookies for the coming season. 

KEY RETURNERS
Despite the loss of several important players, Laurier’s strong returning squad gives hope that the upcoming season will parallel last year’s overwhelming success. 

A highlight of those suiting up in purple and gold for yet another season is Kitchener’s very own Maxine Murchie. Transitioning from mid-field to forward this season, Murchie was one of Laurier’s top play makers last season, despite dealing with various injuries. She is expecting to have a promising season in which she’ll regain her form from 2014 as Laurier’s third highest goal scorer. 

Feeding Murchie the ball from midfield will be Waterloo native Julie Karn, who ended last season as an OUA All-Star and returns this year for her third year with the team. Katie Bishop of Surrey, B.C., a four-time OUA All-Star, will also be a force in the midfield for the Hawks as she returns for her fifth and final season.

Across the back, we’ll see Jacky Normandeau of Uxbridge Ont., for her fourth straight season as a Laurier defender. Proving her offensive ability as Laurier’s fifth leading goal scorer of 2015, Normandeau, last year's Outstanding Woman of Laurier award recipient, will undoubtedly maintain her reputation as a valuable contribution both up front as well as in the Laurier half of the pitch.

Among the back core, the Golden Hawks will also welcome back starting defender Tierney Dunham of Waterdown Ont., for her fourth season with the team. Accompanying her will be Pauline McCordic (North Vancouver B.C.), who will continue to build on her highlight reel year in 2014 where she was rightfully decorated with three different Rookie of the Year Awards awarded to her by both Laurier as well as the OUA. 

2016 OUTLOOK

Following their successful record in both 2014 and 2015, the Hawks are entering the new season with a reputation of being high competitors on both a provincial as well as national scale. 

After winning the OUA silver medal a year ago, the purple and gold will be one of the favourites in the OUA West division as the rest of the team's look to make up ground. Laurier will need their veterans to step up and show the rookies how to win at the university level and if they do, the Hawks should be at the top of the division once the season winds down in October.  

The Hawks kick off the year at home this Saturday against the Guelph Gryphons at University Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
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