Wednesday, 2 November 2011
OUA Women's Final Four - preview
Today we will take a quick look at the four teams involved in the women's Final Four, and tomorrow we'll take a look at the men's Final Four.
On the women's side, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks are the host team due to their first place finish in the OUA West. Joining them from the OUA West are the McMaster Marauders. Coming in from the OUA East are the first place Queen's Gaels and the second place Ottawa Gee-Gees.
The host team, Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, are the defending OUA Champions after having downed the Queen's Gaels last year by a 1-0 scoreline in Kingston. Queen's returned the favour at the CIS Championships in PEI by winning 1-0 in extra time in the championship game on a goal by Riley Filion.
Laurier started this season by reeling off ten straight wins and sitting at the top of the CIS Top 10 before dropping two shocking results to Waterloo (1-0) and Windsor (2-1) in the middle of October. They finished with a 12-2-0 record and 5th in the final CIS Top 10 rankings. Their quarter-final matchup was against the York Lions, and they dominated the game, but were only able to win 1-0. Over the regular season, Laurier was the top scoring team in the OUA West with 36 goals and second best defensive team in the OUA with 8 goals against.
Laurier is led by Krista Cellucci and Emily Brown with 10 and 9 goals respectively. Alyssa Lagoni managed to score 5 goals, and they had 8 other goal scorers over the course of the season. As evidenced by their tally of goals, Laurier were very stingy on defense and their number one goalkeeper, Malloy Woeller claimed seven clean sheets on the season facing 43 shots in 12 games. With their home field advantage and domination of the OUA West, Laurier comes in as the team to beat.
The Queen's Gaels rolled to their third OUA East title in a row this season with a 13-1-2 record, good enough for 4th in the CIS Top 10. As noted, Queen's is the defending CIS Champions after their 1-0 win over Laurier last year in PEI. Queen's was the second most prolific team in front of goal behind big seasons from Jacqueline Tessier (12 goals) and Kelli Chamberlain (8 goals). They had four other players with five or more goals to their name.
Queen's was the third most defensive team in the OUA East letting in 12 goals in 16 games while posting nine clean sheets between Chantal Marson and Sabrina Carew. A dominant performance in their quarter-final matchup against the Carleton Ravens brings them into the Final Four on a high. The only thing counting against the Gaels at this point is an injury sustained by Chamberlain in the second half. Talking to the Queen's Journal after Sunday's game, Tessier was confident about the depth of the team, certain that the backup players could fill in Chamberlain's role if she is unable to play.
The other OUA East team is the Ottawa Gee-Gees, a team that, up until this year, was a bogey team to the Queen's Gaels. This year Queen's managed to handle them twice, winning both games by 1-0 and 3-2 scorelines. The Gee-Gees finished second in the OUA East and 6th in the CIS Top 10 with a 12-3-1 record being both the top scoring team and the most defensive team in the OUA with 57 goals for and a miserly 7 against. Ottawa claimed seven players with four or more goals including Elisabeth Wong's 10 and Sarah De Carufel's 8. A total of 15 different players scored for Ottawa this season.
On the defensive side, the goalkeeping tandem of Michelle McElligott and Cynthia Leblanc posted an astounding total of eleven clean sheets on the season. Ottawa finished third in the OUA Final Four last season, defeating McMaster 2-1 in a tightly fought matchup after losing 2-1 to Laurier. The Gee-Gees face off against Laurier in the opening match of the tournament in what should be a fantastic defensive struggle between the two best defensive teams in the OUA.
The McMaster Marauders come into the tournament as the obvious underdog as they finished a distant second in the OUA West with an 8-5-1 record. They are also the only team to come into the games with fewer goals scored than conceded at 17 goals for and 18 goals against. Nine different players scored for the Marauders with only three scoring multiple times, Natalie Brace, an exchange student from the UK, Stephanie Davis, both with four goals, and Tara Dawdy with three.
McMaster kept most of their games close this year, except when playing Laurier, to whom they lost by 6-1 and 3-0 scorelines. In face, McMaster posted seven clean sheets on the season, including four in a row at the end of the season, before losing to Laurier in the final regular season game. Brittany Duffey played in goal in every game for McMaster this season, so the Marauders will be relying on her to continue to stay healthy, especially as Jocelyn Wilkins went untested during the season.
Interestingly, this year's OUA Final Four features the same four teams as last year, and the day 1 match-ups are identical with Laurier facing Ottawa in the opening match on Saturday at noon, followed by Queen's facing McMaster at 3pm. Talking to several people who have been following the OUA this season, the general consensus is that Laurier will face Queen's in a rematch of last year's final on Sunday with Ottawa joining them at the CIS Championships in Montreal the following weekend.
Throw your predictions into the comments below and compare to what the end results are!
All of the games will be streamed live on SSNCanada.ca this weekend.
Update: I've been told that the games will not be on SSNCanada, but will be shown by Laurier's Athletics department.