The season has come to an end for Laurier’s varsity sports team, with the last teams still playing eliminated in the playoffs. After reaching the second round of the playoffs, Laurier’s women’s hockey team ran into the best team in the CIS. Both basketball teams reached the playoffs as the 11 seeds and faced stiff competition in the first round.
For the second season in a row, the Golden Hawks fell short in the OUA semi-finals against the number one seed. An overtime goal from Kaitlin Lowy gave Guelph the 2-1 win in game two to end the series. Laurier lost both games 2-1 after scoring the first goal in both games but was unable to hold the lead.
Amanda Smith played a key role net limiting the OUA’s highest scoring offence. The junior took over to end the season starting seven of Laurier’s last 10 games to end the season. Although she only started to end the season, Smith finished third in goals against average with a 1.46 GAA, she also finished fourth in save percentage with an SV% of .948.
Laurier did find success in their opening round series against the University of Toronto, the fourth-ranked team in the CIS. After losing their first game 3-2 in overtime, Laurier won games two and three in overtime. Five minutes into overtime of game two, senior Jessica Hurell scored the winner to extend the series and her career. In the third and deciding game with the scored tied at one, junior Dollee Meigs scored in the third overtime period to help Laurier advance.
Laurier will be losing their leading scorer Hurell, who finished the season with 20 points. The team will be returning three of their top five scorers though including freshman Madison MacCulloch. Also returning will be Smith in net along with Lauren Webber who started 16 games in her freshman season.
An opening round match-up against divisional rival Windsor proved too much for Laurier to overcome in the first round of the playoffs. An 82-76 loss was their third of the season to their rivals. The game was expected to be close after Laurier lost the two regular season games by a total of eight points.
Windsor, winners of the last five OUA championships, proved to have the slight edge in the game. Laurier was playing strong from the start, building a lead at both the end of the first quarter and halftime. Laurier was leading 70-69, with eight minutes to play before their lack of defensive rebounding would prove to be costly. Windsor was able to collect 17 offensive rebounds for 18-second chance points compared to nine for Laurier.
Windsor was also able to dominate in the paint with 36 points compared to 22 for the Golden Hawks. Laurier managed to have four players score 14 points in the game, but only collected nine points from the rest of their roster.
Laurier will be returning most of their roster with only Courtney Bruce graduating. Nicole Morrison will be returning for her fourth season after leading Laurier in scoring averaging 15.6 per game, the sixth-best in the OUA. Leading rebounder, 7.4 per game Heather Payne will be returning as well for her fifth season, her rebounding will be needed after the struggles Laurier had on the glass against Windsor.
Laurier struggled in the second half of their season as they only were able to manage two wins in their final nine games. Their struggles continued when they traveled to Brock as they lost 98-80. Although Laurier finished sixth in scoring their struggles to shot efficiently, 38 per cent of field goals for the season (twelfth of 17 teams in OUA), cost them against Brock. The team went 24-66 (36.4 per cent) on field goals and were worse from beyond the arc going 8-30 on three’s.
In a match-up of elite scorers, Brock’s Dani Elgadi was able to score a game high 29, while Laurier’s Will Coulthard was only able to net 14. Johneil Simpson and Ryan Bennett were able to score 21 and 20 respectively for Brock as Laurier was not able to shut down the Brock offence.
After 16 years, including 15 straight playoff appearances, Head Coach Peter Campbell will be retiring, forcing Laurier to find a replacement. Fortunately, the entire roster will be returning next season except for Coulthard, their leading scorer.