Thursday, September 28th. The day a new quest begins for the Wilfrid Laurier women’s basketball team. On Thursday, the Golden Hawks will have their first preseason game, the first of six games against out-of-conference opponents, before the regular season opener on October 28th.
This season, the Hawks will look to improve on a competitive 2016/2017 campaign, which included a OUA playoff berth and a victory in the first round over the University of Toronto, before losing to Carleton in the quarter final.
Laurier’s first preseason game is against the University of Manitoba Bisons at University Stadium. The Bisons played to a 4-16 record last season and did not qualify for the Canada West playoffs. The Hawks will host another preseason game the following week, against Macewan University on Friday, October 6th.
From there, the team will travel to Alberta for several games against universities located in Western Canada. The Hawks will face the Lethbridge Pronghorns on their court before heading to Calgary for games against British Columbia Okanagan and Mount Royal University.
The final preseason game will be a home affair on October 28th against a formidable opponent in the Concordia Stingers. The Stingers were 2016/2017 finalists in the Quebec Student Sport Federation, falling to McGill in the championship game.
A week later, the season begins in St. Catharines against Brock.
MORRISON'S TIME TO SHINE
With 2016/2017 Team Most Valuable Player Kaitlyn Schenck (Kitchener, Ont.) graduating after last season and thus no longer eligible, more roles are expected to be filled by returning and new team members.
One Golden Hawk who is used to being relied upon is returning fifth-year guard Nicole Morrison (Hamilton, Ont.). Morrison is a two-time OUA All-Star, earning second-team honours for her play last season. The crafty scorer averaged 14.9 points per game, combined with 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game as well.
Also returning is a former member of the 2015/2016 OUA women’s All-Rookie team, Irena Rynkiewicz (Missisauga, Ont.). The forward will enter this season under her third year of eligibility and will look to build on a successful second-year campaign in which she averaged just under 10 points and seven rebounds per game.
Along with Morrison and Rynkiewicz, the Hawks are set to have a plethora of depth. Second-year guard and terrific three point-shooter Bryanna Iannazzo (Thornhill, Ont.) will be an important backcourt presence. The sharpshooter made 29 threes last season. Another threat from behind the three-point line is fifth-year guard Sarah Dillon (Welland, Ont), who made 21 shots from behind the arc last year.
The future is bright for the Hawks, as the team yields several up and coming players. Along with Iannazzo, Rachel Woodburn (Ajax, Ontario) and Tayania Siwek-Smith (Oakville, Ont.) are in their second year of eligibility. Woodburn was the 2016/2017 team Rookie of the Year and was also recognized provincially as a member of the 2016/2017 OUA women’s basketball All-Rookie team. Tayania Siwek Smith (Oakville, Ont.), returns as well, coming off a solid season in which she was a force defensively, recording 32 blocks.
Two first-year players are set to join the roster: Guard Maya Day from Kitchener, Ontario, who played at the club level for the Tri-County Thunder, and forward Celina Elliott (Hamilton, Ont.) who played for Blessed Sacrament.