The Laurier Golden Hawks have begun play in fall sports as both soccer teams and the football team have started their seasons. Below is a preview of all three teams and a review of last year’s seasons.
Laurier’s football squad will be looking to improve on last season and advance further into the playoffs. After finishing last season with a 4-4 record, Laurier faced Western in the OUA quarterfinals and took a 10-0 lead. Unfortunately, Western tied it in the third quarter and took the lead in the fourth and would go on to win 25-10.
Head Coach Michael Faulds will be guiding the team for his third season and has high hopes this year. “We want to challenge and try to win the Yates Cup and Vanier Cup,” Faulds said. After his first season ended with a 1-7 record, the improvement to make the playoffs last year is a good sign for future success.
With 19 returning starters from last season, the Golden Hawks got off to a good start with a 38-21 victory over the York Lions. One of the new starters was quarterback Eric Morelli, who is replacing the injured James Fracas. Morelli, in his second year of eligibility, was impressive against York, throwing for 258 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Dillon Campbell is back at running back for the Golden Hawks this year. After leading the CIS in rushing yards and touchdowns last season, Campell won the OUA MVP award. Hel was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts but was released and is now eligible to return for a fifth season.
Defensively, the team lost some talent to the CFL. Chris Ackie and Ese Mrabure-Ajufo were drafted in the first round of the draft and made their respective teams. Returning is Kwaku Boateng, who led the team with 6 sacks last season, and he is joined by linebackers Nakas Onyeka and Brandon Calver. Faulds is looking for these three “to be forces each and every week.” Ben Millar is also back at the safety position after being named a second team OUA all-star last season.
The team will also be looking to replace kicker and punter Ronnie Pfeffer who now plays for the CFL’S Toronto Argonauts. Pfeffer was named a second team All-Canadian in 2014 and also made the longest field goal in the CIS last season with a 50 yard kick. Carson Ouelette is returning as a kick returner and he will have a new partner in William Pitt-Doe.
If they hope to advance deeper into the playoffs, Laurier will need to improve against top teams, having gone winless against playoff teams last season.
Laurier’s women’s soccer team will be looking to improve from last season after ending the year ranked fourth in the CIS. After a thrilling penalty shootout win in the quarterfinals against York, Laurier fell to the Ottawa Gee-Gee’s 1-0 in overtime in the semifinals.
The Golden Hawks were one of the best offensive teams in the CIS last season, averaging 3.8 goals per game which was the third highest in the CIS. The team was led by Emily Brown, who ended the season tied for the lead in goals nationally with 21. As well, Nicole Lyon finished the season sixth in points nationally with 13 goals and 2 assist. Both players are returning this season and hope to have another strong season to help Laurier repeat their success from last year.
The team will be going into the season having to replace keeper Maggie Carmichael, who started all 16 games last season. The team had the eighth best goals against average last season.
Pauline McCordic will hope to lead the Golden Hawks defence again after winning OUA West Rookie of the Year a year ago while making the OUA West second team all-stars. Katie Bishop will be back in the midfield after making the OUA West first team all-stars.
Barry MacLean will be returning for his 18th consecutive season as head coach. Over this time period the Golden Hawks have won 3 OUA championships and made the playoffs in 14 of the last 15 seasons.
The Golden Hawks have started the season 3-0. Laurier started with a pair of blow-out wins over Algoma with scores of 18-1 and 15-0, then they defeated Waterloo 3-1. Winning the OUA title this year is possible along with a chance to compete in the CIS championships.
The Laurier men’s soccer team also opened their season with two games against Algoma. The first game ended in a 1-1 tie, but Laurier won the second game 4-0. Laurier lost their third game of the season to Waterloo 4-0.
Last season, Laurier made the playoffs finishing sixth in their division. They made it to the quarterfinals, where they lost 2-0 to top-seeded York.
After finishing fourth in total goals in OUA last season Laurier will be looking to replace their top 2 goal scorers. Returning veterans Justin Manning, Tahrik Rodriguez and Julie John will be returning, solidifying a veteran core.
One position in which the Golden Hawks will be lacking in experience is in the net. Both keepers from last season are no longer on the team with Ryan Mandrik being named the new starter and Jovan Brudiu the back up. Both goalies are getting their first experience in OUA action.
Head coach Mario Halipar is leading the team for an eighth season. Although Laurier has been successful in reaching the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, they have not been able to advance past the quarterfinals.
Another playoff appearance should be possible for the team, but the production of the new goalies, and a team effort to replace the lost goal-scoring will be necessary if the team is to get over the quarterfinal hurdle.