Wednesday night saw a young but resilient Laurier basketball squad almost play giant killer, losing to Western 77-74.
Rookies Greg Sandstrom and Jeff Zdrahal led a Golden Hawk team which has no player with more than one year of varsity experience.
"We knew Western was a bigger team, so we played a zone defence and tried to slow the game down by working the clock," Zdrahal said. "We got a much better result than expected and in the end we were tentative and made some bad decisions."
Sandstrom, a transfer student out of an Iowa junior college, shot 75 per cent from the field for 16 points and had five steals.
"Greg's an outstanding player and we expect great things from him," Laurier head coach Gary Jeffries said. "The guys played their hearts out and I'm telling you right now we're going to win and make the playoffs."
"I said beforehand that [Laurier] is going to knock off some of the top guns," Western coach Craig Boydell said. "They have good players and in the end we toughed it out, but I have to give them credit."
Mustang forward Chris Webber was the leading scorer for the Mustangs with 22 points.
Western plays its first home game Saturday against Guelph.
A tale of two seasons was played Wednesday at Alumni Hall, as the 6-0 Western women's volleyball team hosted the 1-5 Laurier Golden Hawks. There was no surprise at the end of the match, with the Mustangs plucking the Hawks' feathers by a score of 3-0.
Western capitalized on many of Laurier's miscues at the beginning of the match and never looked back, winning by scores of 15-9, 15-10 and 15-6. Despite the end result, Laurier coach Cookie Leach was happy with her team's performance.
"I though our team played a very good defence," she said. "They didn't score one tip on us which is usually our downfall."
"We let Laurier into the match," added Western starter Julia Brand. "But we came back and showed them that we can win."
Western will leave the friendly confines of Alumni Hall to travel to McMaster and Windsor for two important matches next week.
Kathy Ens and Josh Webster
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks took advantage of some sleeping Mustangs as Hawk leader Kevin Shonk and newly-acquired Anthony Fenton ran over the ‘Stangs in Wednesday night's second-half opener.
The Mustangs who, at times, seemed to still be on vacation, lost the four-set affair 15-12, 12-15, 15-9 and 15-13. The loss drops the ‘Stangs to 5-2 on the season and vaults the over-achieving Golden Hawks to 6-1 and first place in the OUAA West conference.
Anthony Fenton, playing in his first game as a Golden Hawk, and Kevin Shonk were devastating at the net with monstrous kills and big blocks.
"Both Kevin and I played well tonight," Fenton said. "It seemed whenever we needed a big kill or side-out Shonk was always there to get it. He is a great talent."
Mustang head coach Dave Preston, disappointed with the setback, also commented on the play of Fenton and Shonk. He also explained why the Mustangs came away shorthanded.
"They definitely played some lights-out defence against us," said Mustang coach Dave Preston. "Shonk and Fenton were incredible and we just weren't able to capitalize whenever we were given opportunities."
The 5-2 Mustangs will travel to McMaster Wednesday and Windsor Friday for two must-win ball games.
Western's varsity wrestlers will travel to Guelph Saturday to compete in the Guelph Open, a competitive tournament that will feature some of the top wrestlers in the country.
"We're dealing with a very strong calibre of wrestling the strongest in Canada," Western coach Ray Takahashi said. "Hopefully we will have a good showing but it's really important to gain experience and try to do well individually."
Mustang captain Kyle Chocorlan is in a good position to challenge the top wrestlers, Takahashi said.
"I want to break the top five," Chocorlan said. "But judging by the competition it is going to be tough."
Lady wrestler Anne Guzman is looking forward to the event which she believes will test the effectiveness of her training this season.
"I'm getting there but there's still more to learn," Guzman said. "I trained a lot at McMaster with various different partners and have noticed significant improvements. Compared to last year, I'm doing well."
The Guelph competition is one of a series of tournaments which act as a stepping stone to the national championships.