Lacrosse wins silver

Falls to Golden Hawks in overtime in battle of perfect teams

Women’s Lacrosse pulled together to win OUA silver last weekend.
Women’s Lacrosse pulled together to win OUA silver last weekend.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of Jeff Chan / pbase.com/goldengaelsphotos
The Gaels gave Laurier everything they could handle in the OUA final.
The Gaels gave Laurier everything they could handle in the OUA final.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of Jeff Chan / pbase.com/goldengaelsphotos

After finishing the regular season with a perfect 9-0-1 record, the women’s lacrosse team found themselves a goal away from a provincial title at the OUA championships in Waterloo last weekend.

The Gaels dismantled the Western Mustangs 11-4 in semi-final action on Saturday, led by Jen Held who scored a remarkable five goals in the victory.

After the win the Gaels were set for a much-anticipated final showdown against the Laurier Golden Hawks in Sunday’s championship game. Both teams had identical records going into the finals, with their only tie coming against each other in an Oct. 10 matchup.

Queen’s dominated the first half against Laurier, led by captain Faye Pang, who scored her first of three goals a few minutes in to get the Gaels on the board early. They led 6-4 going into the second half.

However, the Golden Hawks—playing on their home field—were not prepared to step aside and allow the Gaels to take the OUA championships from them.

Laurier countered the Gaels’ dominant first half effort, and—in classic fashion—the two best teams in Ontario were tied 7-7 at the end of regulation.

Laurier head coach Lynn Orth said Queen’s played a well-orchestrated game and was superior to her team in the first half. She said the second half was evenly played and Laurier just got the edge.

“I commented before the start of overtime in the gold-medal game that this was a game that no team should lose,” Orth said. “I still feel that way.” Unfortunately for the Gaels, Laurier rookie OUA all-star Kirsten Gerrie fired the game-winning goal past Queen’s goalie Alexis Maddaloni during an intense overtime period. It was the first time that the Golden Hawks had held a lead over the Gaels in the entire game.

After the clock expired, the Golden Hawks celebrated their third straight OUA championship, while the Gaels proudly received their silver medals and reflected on the bittersweet memories of an almost flawless season.

“I don’t think we could have asked for more today,” Pang said. “Both teams were saying it could have gone either way—that’s the nature of sport.”

Gaels head coach Brendan Sweeney said the overtime loss was a heartbreaker for the team, but in hindsight the season was nothing but a huge success.

“This was definitely the two best teams and programs in Canada going head to head—you can quote me on that,” he said. “It took two overtime games—both at their stadium—for Laurier to pull ahead.”

U of T narrowly edged Western 8-7 after three overtime periods in the bronze medal game earlier in the day. Orth said that both of the exciting games were an indication of the high level of lacrosse being played in the OUA.

“When the season finish for the top four teams comes down to a single goal in overtime in each case it is a testament to the strength of teams competing on that day and in the league,” she said. “These results will only make the league stronger as we go forward,” she said.

In the final game Pang led the way for the Gaels with three goals, while Kaleigh Ross scored twice, and Carly Heffernan and Held each added one.

Sweeney said goalie Maddaloni played extremely well for the Gaels in the final match and had been a huge factor in the team’s success throughout the season.

After Sunday’s game, Held said she had mixed emotions.

“We wanted that gold medal—we were definitely upset,” she said. “But at the same time this is better than we have ever done before. We played amazing all season.”

Held’s sentiments about the Gaels’ performance this season appeared to be shared by the OUA. The league recently released its provincial lacrosse awards, naming Sweeney the OUA coach of the year. Gaels defender Ruth McArthur and midfielder Faye Pang were named first-team all-stars. McArthur was also named the OUA’s most valuable defensive player. Queen’s Katie North and Maddaloni were named second-team all-stars. Held was honoured as the OUA’s outstanding graduating player.

“Our success completely came from the fact that we play as a team,” Held said. “It is nice that individual players were recognized for their contributions—but I’m sure all of us would give them up for the team.”

Pang said the Gaels are already looking forward to competing for the OUA championship next season.

“We have a solid chance next year,” she said. “We have a lot of young players who show definite promise.”

Held also praised the outstanding performance of the Gaels rookies, and said she knows they are going to build from the experience gained this season. Unfortunately, as a graduating player Held may not be around to help the team battle for the OUA title they narrowly missed this year.

“There is a chance I’ll be back next season,” she said. “But if this is it, I can’t figure out if I’m happy or if I’m sad—I feel sort of numb.”

Both Pang and Held gave credit to the Golden Hawks for their outstanding play all season, and for winning their third-straight OUA championship.

“We have to give credit to Laurier—they played a solid game,” said Pang. “They were the one team that could have played with us all season. We played our hearts out—looking back, we have a lot to be proud of.”

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