This weekend marks a golden opportunity for the Queen’s varsity women’s lacrosse team to take home the provincial championship. Having finalized their undefeated record (9-0-1) last weekend with wins against McMaster and Guelph, the girls have shown themselves to be unbeatable.
The Gaels’ regular season ended with a total of 112 goals for and a stingy 46 against. Team captain Faye Pang said that the only team posing a challenge to the Gaels this season are the Laurier Golden Hawks, who managed to tie the Gaels 9-9 in regular season play.
If ever there was a time for the women’s lacrosse team to take the title, it’s now, Pang said. Last year the team had no graduating players, allowing the core of the team to return this season. This year, however, five of the team’s most valuable players will be graduating, including Lara Pilutti, Marisa Shea, Sada Hallman, Katie North, and Jen Held.
The team boasts a threatening offence including Held, ArtSci ’06, Pang, Comm ’07, and North, ArtSci ’06. The girls are ranked first, fourth and fifth, respectively, as top scorers in the OUA. Rookie Midori Ohtake, PhysEd ’09, has also emerged as a potent force on the offensive line as one of the top scorers on the team.
Alexis Maddaloni, Sci ’07, is the team’s tried and true goalie. Although she only began training as keeper in 2004, Maddaloni has made her team proud this season with shutout halves against such strong opponents as last year’s runner up, Brock University. Alongside Maddaloni is an unrelenting defensive line who helped the team achieve its league-lowest 46 goals against.
Pang said that in addition to fielding some of the top-scoring players in the OUA, the women’s lacrosse team is also known as the fastest team in the league. Sophomores Kaleigh Ross, Sci ’08, and Hilary Goldspink, ArtSci ’08, outrun their opponents with ease, giving the team the advantage of a fast-paced game, she said.
Midfielder Sarah McArthur also credited the team’s conditioning.
“Our consistent off-season training gives us an advantage over other teams,” she said.
Midfielder Carly Heffernan, ArtSci ’07, said the key to the Gaels’ success this season was a combination of factors.
“We are really close-knit. We’re not just a team, but a family,” she said. “There’s a mutual respect between us on and off the field, giving us confidence in each other’s abilities.” The team is closely-knit in part because they haven’t had a single home game all season, so have travelled by bus together every weekend since early September.
Brendan Sweeney, a PhD student and member of the Queen’s men’s lacrosse team, is coaching his second year with women’s lacrosse. He said he wants his team to stick to the basics this weekend.
“It’s fundamentals-plus,” he said.
The team will be travelling to Laurier on Saturday, where they will play Western in the OUA semi-finals. In regular-season play Queen’s defeated Western 11-2. If Queen’s prevails on Saturday, they will move on to battle Laurier for the title on Sunday.
Pang said she is already looking forward to Sunday’s game.
“We’re very confident going into this championship,” she said. “We’ve worked hard all season and have never let up. Let’s just say we’re itching to clip the Golden Hawks’ wings.”
Claire Ward knows all about long hair, leather vests, and Middle English literature.