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Volume 91, Issue 22
Friday, October 3, 1997
Sock it to the loo
Western dominates national ranking
THE PICK OF THE PURPLE PACK. Welcome back, sports fans. Now listen, the season of Western Mustang sports may be young, but a number of teams have wasted little time to jump into the CIAU top-10 rankings. Although the school lacks a No.1 standing, both the varsity football and men's soccer teams hold down second spot and it appears Western will be well represented in a lot of sports come playoff time. This centre-spread should help fill you in on the purple and white in the fall of '97.
Western's male ruggers have had a solid season thus far and currently own a perfect 4-0 record. In February, the team was given a chance to gel as a unit when they took a trip to Ireland for a four-game tour and the result has brought rave reviews.
"The trip has made a massive impact on our team," head coach Gerry Slattery said. "We developed a great sense of intensity over there and we're starting to recapture it now."
Led by Slattery, this team has a good mix of veterans and rookies. The Mustangs lead the division in most points scored with 121, with the second closest team, the Queen's Golden Gaels, a distant 58 points behind. Western has also allowed the fewest number of points with 24, an average of only 6 points per game.
"Everything we're doing has worked so far and the way things have been going, there's no reason why we can't beat Queen's," he said.
The Mustangs, who lead their OUA division, will play defending provincial champion Queen's for Homecoming. "I know it will be a difficult game," Mustang captain and former Golden Gael Rob Werstine said, "I think we will come together, beat my old team and claim the number-one rank position."
The game will kick-off at 1 p.m. on the rugby pitch across from J.W. Little Stadium.
The women's rugby team is in a fight for the final playoff spot in the Ontario University Athletics after a slow start to the season.
Their 2-2 record has them in a fourth-place tie with Queen's, while McMaster and Guelph lead the pack.
The team is coming off a 19-14 win over York last Sunday and will have an opportunity to decide their own fate when they play the Golden Gaels for Homecoming tomorrow.
The game gets underway at 4:30 p.m..
Between the men's and women's cross-country teams, no other Western athletic squad has collected as many national titles. This season, both the male and female Mustangs will have a legitimate shot at another championship to add to their trophy case.
Both teams are ranked nationally (the women fourth and the men third), but according to head coach Bob Vigars, Western's rankings are based less on the team's performance so far this season and more on their talent and potential.
"We haven't had the chance to be at full strength," Vigars said. "A lot of coaches know the calibre and potential of our team."
The men are led by University of Alabama undergraduate Guy Schultz and have several good veterans in Tyler Coady and Jim Wardle.
"Schultz is a rare bird," Vigars said. "He's got a tremendous psychological ability to deal with stress and he has the mental and physical set to be number one."
On the women's side, Kristina Farr captains a young group of runners with tremendous potential. Rookies Becky Martin, Kate Annen, Jenny Hillman and Amanda Hornibrook, were all top-20 finishers in the Ontario high school finals and will be a force to reckon with in the near future.
"If we get hot we could go all the way, but we don't have a lock on it," Vigars said of the team's chances at a national title. "I'd say that we're right on the bubble."
The team will spend Homecoming weekend competing at the Chicago Lakefront Invitational.
The women's field hockey team is turning some heads this season with a strong and experienced squad.
Ranked as high as eighth in the country and third in the province, the team has lost only one game and that was to the national champion University of Toronto Varsity Blues, giving Western a 5-1-2 record.
Led by Jenn Kicis and Fiona Hawes, who have both scored two goals for the Mustangs, the team's offensive weapons are dangerous and deep.
On the other side of the field, a solid defensive unit has come up big in critical moments, holding oppenents to only five goals in seven games, after discounting the 6-0 blowout against Toronto.
The Western men's soccer team has kicked a lot of butt in the first half of the season. A 5-1 record gives the appearance of a repeat trip to the nationals as they sit atop the OUA West standings. Ranked second in the nation, only the Victoria Vikes, who defeated Western for the national title last season, prevent the team from being ranked as the best team in Canada.
With shutout victories over the Brock Badgers (twice), Laurier Golden Hawks and Guelph Gryphons, Western has only allowed four goals all season proving coach Rock Basacco right when he said they have "the best defence in the league." The return of some key veterans combined with the outstanding scoring punch of Luca Mancuso (the division's second leading scorer) has Basacco believing that his current roster is even better than last year's silver medal squad.
Mancuso, who has been one of the spotlight players for the team, has knocked in eight goals in his first six games and is striving to continue that pace through the remainder of the season. Basacco is slightly surprised at the play of Mancuso, whom he always believed to have "great potential." The coach said Mancuso's continued outstanding play will be key if the Mustangs are to take that final step in the post-season.
Basacco also sited Ree San's contribution as being another piece of the puzzle for the Mustang squad. Basacco describes San as being a player with "tremendous skill who is very difficult to stop one-on-one" and believes he has the potential to explode with some key goals come playoff time.
With upcoming games against the struggling Waterloo Warriors and a strong McMaster squad, Basacco believes the team must take it one game at a time and hope to peak at the right time come playoffs. If this prescribed formula works, the Mustangs seem poised and ready to take the national championship.
At the half-way point of the season, the Western women's soccer team is sitting on top of the OUA West standings, looking down on the rest of the competition. Holding a perfect 5-0 record, the team is looking to repeat as OUA West Division champions and surpass last year's fourth place CIAU finish.
"Basically, we wish to stay healthy for the remaining six games of the season so we can finish the season ranked first overall," said head coach Sheri Kitching-Fowler.
Currently ranked third in the country, Kitching-Fowler is excited the team has received notice and respect from coaches around the league, who have on numerous occasions boosted Western's ranking throughout the season.
"The CIAU coaches do the voting and it all depends on who is submitting the votes," she said. "The rankings are based on statistics and personal opinions, but we consider ourselves very lucky."
Leading the team is veteran striker Sara Nathanson, who as of last weekend was in a three-way tie for the division scoring title.
"Her consistency is recognized and commended," said Kitching-Fowler. "Sara has been a Canadian all-star since first year and she is very gifted as a striker."
Another bright spot has come with the dramatic return of sweeper Erin Howell, who through her five years at Western has survived two career-threatening injuries.
"She's our quarterback on defense and guides the unit when the team has the ball," Kitching-Fowler said of the third-year player. "If I could have 15 Erins, we would win it all."
With the leadership of these experienced veterans, plus the strength of a deep, youthful bench, the team has found success with a new 1-2 touch possession system which they hope will carry them far into the playoffs.
The Mustangs will be looking to extend their undefeated record over Homecoming weekend when they head off to Waterloo to face the Athenas.
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