Lacrosse comes home victorious

Christian Rice leaps to unleash a shot on his way to a hat trick against Laurier on Saturday. The Gaels won 10-4.
Christian Rice leaps to unleash a shot on his way to a hat trick against Laurier on Saturday. The Gaels won 10-4.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Tsang

During Homecoming weekend the women’s lacrosse team gave Gael fans a reason to celebrate.

The women opened their season on the road in Montreal, where they faced opponents Brock, Toronto, and McGill in a series of regular season games—a format designed to cut travel costs for OUA teams.

The Gaels began their reign of terror on Saturday morning by picking apart the McGill Redmen 11-6 on their home field. Taking the momentum with them, the Gaels smothered the Brock Badgers 11-4 on Sunday morning, and then downed the U of T Varsity Blues 9-6 later that afternoon.

Head coach Brendan Sweeney said he was impressed with the team’s ability to execute at both ends of the field, and attributed this weekend’s success to the consistent work ethic of the team.

“All of the team’s work throughout the winter and in practice has paid off,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said the Gaels appeared to be playing at a higher level than their opponents, and were able to stop the other teams from executing their plays effectively.

“Our defense has tightened up, and we have great speed in the midfield and on offense.” Sweeney said. “We forced [the other teams] to play our game and they couldn’t handle our speed.”

The play of mid-fielder Jennifer Held was particularly impressive for the Gaels. The fourth-year player tallied a total of 11 goals and three assists over the course of the weekend. Sweeney also noted that Held was a key part of the team’s suffocating defensive play. Held’s statistics have earned her OUA Athlete of the Week honours, as well as the Journal Athlete of the Week.

However, Sweeney gave credit for the weekend sweep to the entire team. He said goaltender Alexis Maddaloni stepped up to the challenge all weekend, and was particularly impressive in Sunday morning’s victory over Brock.

Sweeney also noted the defensive play of Tina St. Pierre and Laura Snyder, and added that Katie North and team captain Faye Pang were exceptional aspects of the Gael’s offense.

Held, North, and Pang are currently ranked first, second, and third respectively in league scoring.

Pang said the team’s early success can be attributed to a well-balanced and talented roster.

“We have a lot of returning players, and a lot of really strong rookies,” she said. “The weekend was very promising—we played like it was much further along in the season.”

Pang said the team’s disappointing finish last season—just missing the playoffs—has fueled their drive to succeed this year.

“We had a very disappointing end to the season last year, and our goal this year is to make the playoffs,” she said. “We’re optimistic that we have a good shot.”

Due to circumstances beyond the Gaels’ control, they have not been scheduled for any regular season home games this season. If the Gaels finish first in the league, they will be rewarded with a home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Getting a chance to play at home is one of the team’s main motivations, Sweeney said. He added that the Gaels are looking to build on their recent success and are not taking any opponents lightly.

“I expect our next games to be a much bigger challenge,” he said.

The women will put their winning streak on the line this weekend as they head to Waterloo to take on Laurier, Western, and Waterloo in another series of regular season match-ups.

The men’s team was also in action during Homecoming weekend, taking down the Laurier Golden Hawks in a 10-4 victory at home on Saturday. This weekend the men will head east to suit up against McGill on Saturday and Bishop’s on Sunday.

Dan Robson dedicates this bioline to Emily MacLaurin-King, who has never had her own in two years with the Journal. Congratulations.

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