Maxine Murchie (#7) is swarmed by her teammates after opening the scoring Wednesday (Credit: Kha Vo)
Laurier: 2 McMaster: 0
WATERLOO, Ont. (October 26, 2017) – The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's soccer team opened their bid for a fourth OUA Championship in the past decade in successful fashion Wednesday night at University Stadium. For the majority of their first-round match against the sixth-seeded McMaster Marauders, the third-seeded Hawks controlled proceedings, dominating possession number and creating chances aplenty on route to a 2-0 victory to send them through to Sunday’s quarter-final in Guelph against the Gryphons.
Head Coach Barry MacLean
gave his starters some extra rest during Sunday’s season finale against Brock, and that choice looked to be paying early dividends as the purple and gold looked sharp, moving the ball around with great precision while not allowing the Marauder so much as a sniff of offence.
Despite a few chances being sent over the top bar, the Hawks were still looking to break the deadlock near halftime when Nicole Lyon
(Kitchener, Ont.) was awarded a free kick from about 35 yards out. Not about to let the opportunity pass in her final game at University Stadium, Lyon sent a picture-perfect ball right into the middle of the box where it was headed home by Hawks' leading scorer Maxine Murchie
Facing elimination, the Marauders noticeably upped their efforts to begin the second half, forcing Hawks keeper Ashley Almeida
(Burlington, Ont.) to bail out her team on a few occasions. The pace really intensified for about a ten-minute stretch early in the half, with an astounding number of chances for both sides, most notably a clear break for McMaster that Almeida stoned in potentially a game-changing moment.
With McMaster becoming more desperate by the second, the Hawks needed another goal to ease the pressure of closing out the game, and Murchie was happy to oblige once again, shuffling to her right around the stranded Mac keeper to safely put it home into the empty net to complete her brace in the 70th minute. She nearly made it a hat-trick moments later, cracking a strike from distance going off the top bar and over the net.
The purple and gold managed to slow down the hectic pace in the final minutes, closing out the Marauders in relatively stress-free fashion with the two-goal cushion intact. Almeida finished with the seven save shutout.
The Hawks now move onto Guelph to face the second-seeded Gryphons (10-4-2) with a birth in the OUA’s Final Four on the line. Despite some struggles against the Gryphons this season, the Hawks have to like their chances if they can carry this type of form into Sunday.
Kickoff goes at 1:00 p.m. at Gryphon Soccer Complex on Sunday. Stay locked in to laurierathletics.com
for continuing playoff coverage.